Last year, I made it a goal of mine to expand the lessons I do around diversity and tolerance. Bits and pieces of tolerance are embedded in my lessons through out the year, but I wanted to be more intentional about bringing diversity of culture into the classrooms with me. I know that seeing and learning about cultures different from our own is an important part of tolerance.
Check out a 1st grade and 2nd grade culture and diversity lesson below!
In 1st grade, we read the book All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, which is a wonderfully colorful story showing a school day, in which families from many cultures come to school in different ways, learn in different ways, and play in different ways. What I love is the imagery shows a variety of cultures coming together, and the story ends with all the same families attending a cultural fair to learn about each other and appreciate differences. This book also repeats the title through out the book: “all are welcome,” which is key for tolerance.
After reading the book and exploring details on the pages, each student got a Cultural Match Up worksheet, which we completed as a whole class. I read each statement, and then students would share which picture they thought it matched up to, and would draw a line connecting it. Matching was relatively easy for my 1st graders, which was great because it meant we could spend more time discussing each cultural picture. Students shared connections they had – many had learned about the dragon dance that takes place during the Chinese New Year.
If you would like to see a copy of the Cultural Match Up worksheet, please click here to download it.
To end our lesson, I brought some of my daughter’s nesting dolls (which was one of the pictures on the worksheet) to show them. The set I brought in was colorful snowmen, but students loved seeing how small the tiniest doll would be. We also discussed how each nesting doll is hand painted, and we imagined how tricky it must be to paint each tiny detail to make it look real. Many students had never seen Russian nesting dolls up close, so this was a neat way to end.
In 2nd grade, we spent more time discussing what the word “culture” means. A few students had heard this word, but each class needed some guidance in understanding it. We talked about culture as being the way a group of people talk, dress, eat, play, celebrate, what they believe, etc. We used an example of the Statue of Liberty being an important statue in American culture for most people who live here.
Next, we read The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson. This book does an amazing job showing how different cultures can come together, but also how scary it can feel to enter a culture different from your own. I particularly love how this story shows children how the day you begin to share about your culture, and the day others begin to listen about other cultures, can be the day people begin to connect and tolerate differences.
After the book, I used my Cultural Traditions Around the World Lesson Cards that I created. I had individual cards showing a picture of something from a particular country’s culture, which I had students pick, look at, and show the class. Each picture card corresponded with a written explanation about the picture ( I had the picture card and written card laminated on the same color paper for easy matching). I either had the student or myself read the explanation. I worked hard to find interesting facts from different cultures, and my students definitely had a fun time doing this activity! They enjoyed comparing traditions from other countries to our own, and so much more could be done here with more time.
If you would like to see a copy of the Cultural Traditions Around the World Lesson Cards, please click here to download it. I made this document into cards by printing, cutting each page to separate the picture and the description, then laminating each picture/description on different color paper for easy matching.
Overall, these additions to my diversity, culture, and tolerance lessons were successful! I look forward to expanding on them with my students in future lessons.
How do you teach about diversity, culture, and tolerance? I’d love to hear your ideas! 🙂