Since Unity Day is in October, I focused all of my October lessons on accepting others and valuing diversity. For kindergarten, I love using Cheri J. Meiners books. She explains everything in simple and effective terms that small children can understand.
I introduced to the Class Lesson Reward for the class that is most respectful and participates the best during my lesson. Then I explained that we show respect by keeping our eyes on the speaker, our ears are listening, and our mouths are quiet. I explained that participating is answering questions that I ask.
I introduced my lesson by reminding students about Unity Day, explaining that it is a day where we celebrate our differences because our differences are what make us unique and special. For my kindergarten lesson on accepting differences and valuing diversity, I selected Cheri J. Meiners' Accept and Value Each Person. As with any book I read to a class, I stopped to ask students questions. Sometimes students would stop me to comment as well.
After finishing the book, I told students that in a minute we would be doing an activity together. I told them that they needed to walk quietly back to their seats when I called their table. I reminded them that the most respectful class walks quietly back to their seats. For many classes, this reminder was enough incentive to walk quietly back to their seats.
One of the great things about Cheri J. Meiners' books is that she gives suggestions for what to discuss with students and for activities that tie in to the message of her stories. I made a worksheet titled Alike and Different based on a game she suggested playing with students. Some of the questions were easy to complete with students and others were more difficult. The questions included: what is your favorite color, what is your favorite thing about school, what color is your hair, how old are you, how many people are in your family, what is your favorite toy, what is your favorite food, what is your favorite game or TV show? For my worksheet, I made a grid of the eight questions. I selected a few questions to answer as a class to complete the activity. Students were able to take the worksheet home to finish with their parents if they wanted to answer the other questions. We answered what is your favorite color, what color is your hair, how old are you, and how many people are in your family. Students were allowed to color the box on the grid for what color hair they have and what their favorite color is. They wrote how old they were and how many people are in their family in the corresponding boxes in the grid as well. All the other boxes were left empty. We verbally went over what their favorite thing about school was.
After everyone filled out their answers to those four questions, I would say raise your hand if your favorite color is red. Then I would tell students to look around the room at all the people who liked the same color as them. We went through this for each color. Then we moved on to what their hair color is. Students would look to see who had that in common with them. We went through the same process for how old they are, how many people are in their family, and what their favorite thing about school was. Sometimes, I had to remind students not to say things like "I don't like that" or not to laugh at each other. I told them that the point of the activity is to take the opportunity to accept differences in other people and to see how wonderful diversity is.
Habit 5- Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood is the habit that most closely relates to accepting differences in others and valuing diversity. In Meiner's book, there are pictures of people of different races and cultures. There are also pictures of a child in a wheel chair. Students watch as characters in the book work out their problems and get along despite their differences. Two students are having a disagreement, but they talk and work it out, by Seeking First to Understand. For the activity, students are asked to consider their likes, interests, family dynamics, and physical characteristics. Then they share these things with their classmates, looking to see who has something in common with them. If they do not like the same thing as one of their classmates, they are asked to understand the difference they have with their classmate, but to accept them despite this difference.