Respecting Differences

enemypieWhile there are many, many books on the market that address the issue of respect for differences, one of our go-to books continues to be Derek Munson’s Enemy Pie. Here’s the scoop: It was shaping up to be a super summer, until Jeremy moved in next door and became Enemy Number One. Fortunately, Dad’s got a recipe for Enemy Pie! What kind of concoction could it be? And is it because the boys are different or maybe too much the same? They’re going to find out, because Dad’s recipe includes spending a day together. Read this tasty tale aloud to your students, but stop along the way to let them tell you what’s cookin’ – – they’ll know. Ask tough questions like, “Have you ever wanted to serve up a slice of Enemy Pie?” and “What was that experience like?” Map the boys’ similarities and differences on a thinking map, then have students create their own recipe for Enemy Pie. Click here for some amazing enrichment writing activities from a teaching blog I follow. Visit the official Enemy Pie website for more activity ideas.



A Box Full of Diversity

What’s more diverse than a huge box of crayons? In an interesting spin on this staple school supply, The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf is simply a powerful poem about a box of quarrelsome crayons. What will need to happen before they get along much less become fast friends? Before you read, pose this question: Is any one color really better than another? Have a box of crayons handy for a pre-reading activity idea. Give students a chance to tell you their favorite color, then pass the box around and ask them to take a crayon that’s NOT their favorite color. On a blank sheet of paper with their new crayon, have them draw a mono-chromatic picture of themselves in a park. Encourage them to share pictures and compare. Have them explain what it was like to color a picture using just one crayon. How do they feel about how their pictures turned out? How could working together have made their pictures better?

crayonboxRead the story aloud. Stop periodically to let the students predict what will happen. At the end of the story, ask students to write a journal entry (or create a picture paragraph) completing this sentence: If I were to talk to that box of crayons, I would say ___. Then let each student splash more color onto their pictures to post on a Crayon Box That Talked bulletin board. Have your students research quotes, phrases or saying that reinforce thie respect-for-differences theme in this colorful tale. Then hang big crayons (blow up or cardboard) around the room as a visual reminder of acceptance and respect.

Uniquely Carla

carlasandwichCarla’s Sandwich by Debbie Herman is a tempting little treasure that features Carla, who creates savory (and sometimes silly) sandwiches just to be different and her classmates, most of whom are turned off by her crazy creations. In fact, Carla and her
sandwiches become the brunt of their taunting and teasing. Until, that is, one day when a student in her class forgets his sandwich. When Carla, who just happens to have an extra, offers him one of hers, her classmate has to decide if he dares to risk trying something new or if he’d rather go hungry.

dsc00006When my son, Jacob, served as a junior counselor at Bales Intermediate, this book was food for thought for him and the little boy he mentored, both of whom, like Carla, were a little different themselves. After they discussed the story, they decided which sandwich they each thought sounded best and they vowed to give them a try. The following week, Jacob brought the ingredients and the two munched on a Carla’s Crunch and a Caramel Apple Sandwich in their weekly friendship time, finishing every last crumb. What a delectable way to follow up this delicious commentary on taking chances and tolerating differences. Check out this book; I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the dialogue it’ll generate with your little ones. Oh, and you might want to have some sandwich-making fixin’s ready!  After the taste test, take students to the computer lab and let them create a fun shape using sparkle words that describe their sandwich experiment experience.  Check out tagxedo.com for some amazing word-cloud options

A Triangle In a Circular World

triangleZoe the Misfit by Ellen Dee Davidson is a story about a triangle who can’t quite find her place in the world. She’s the wrong shape AND color. And It’s a tale whose message encourages accepting, even celebrating, who you are. We used it as a station at Family Math Night and Zoe fit perfectly!

Respect is about treating one another the way you want to be treated. Were the red circles doing that? Why or why not? How did Zoe try to fit in? How did it feel when she was with the circles? How did she feel when she discovered her hidden talent? How does she use that skill to influence others?

Ask your students to remember a time when they didn’t fit in or when they observed a situation where someone around them didn’t fit in. What happened? What did they do to resolve the issue? What could they do differently next time? Then have students journal their reflections about the adage: It’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Breaking Down Stereotypes

You will need five people to role-play this activity about stereotypes. Group members will be acting out a scenario, something like: Pretend you’re at a meeting to plan your next big service project. Each person is given a visor that has their role and instructions attached to the brim so they CAN’T see it but the other participants in the circle can. The roles are: The ELL student (speak loudly and slowly to me), Miss Popular (agree with everything I say), the Nerdy Kid (put down everything I say), the Class Clown (laugh at everything I say) and The New Kid (ignore me). Have them follow the directions that they see on each other’s visors as they talk and plan.

Then see if they can guess their role by how others reacted to them. Let them process how it felt to be treated like that. When I played this one, I was the ELL student and it was really frustrating when the other group members acted like I didn’t understand anything they were saying as they repeated things slowly and loudly. It’s a great lesson in empathy!

Respect Reflections
Here are some respect dilemmas to reflect upon. Have students buddy buzz through these, then ask them to write a scenario about respect:

1. Jimmy is making jokes about his classmate, Tatiana, because she’s from a different country. Though Tatiana can’t hear him, Jimmy’s friends can and they know it’s disrespectful to make fun of someone and their culture. If you were one of Jimmy’s friends, what would you do to show respect?

2. Amy and Jake are working on a project in computer class. In the middle of their research, the computer screen goes blank and they lose all their information. Jake gets mad and starts pounding on the keyboard. What could Amy do to help Jake show respect for the school’s equipment?

3. Sarah’s parents told her that she can’t use the internet when they’re not home. While Sienna is visiting, she suggests they play these fun new games that she just discovered on the internet. Sienna argues that no one will find out since Sarah’s parents won’t be home for a while. What should Sarah do to make sure that she shows respect for her parents and their rules?

4. Some second-grade boys are playing basketball during recess. One boy, Ryan, keeps stealing the ball away from his friends so he can shoot a basket. He also pushes other kids out of his way while he’s dribbling. What might you suggest to help Ryan show respect for his playmates?

5. One hot afternoon after recess, Katy is about to get in line for her drink of water. She is very thirsty, but her whole class is in front of her. Katy sees her best friend, Cindy, near the front of the line. Cindy motions to Katy to cut in line ahead of her. What can Katy do to show respect for the other students in line?