Appreciating Our Similarities and Differences

Gather students in an activity to help them explore and appreciate their similarities and differences.
Ages 5-14 / 45
min Activity
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Objectives

  • Work in groups to find similarities between themselves, and discover how sharing things in common can help establish trust and foster new friendships‍
  • Consider unique qualities and strengths that set them apart, and how they can celebrate their differences to make everyone feel valued and accepted for who they are

Supporting Research

When educators cultivate a positive and inclusive classroom environment, in which all students feel a sense of belonging and appreciation, this leads to positive outcomes around their academic success, motivation, self-efficacy, and engagement. During this activity, educators should encourage students to practice self-awareness as they share aspects of their identity with each other, and kindness and inclusivity to show curiosity and respect for each other’s unique backgrounds.

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Materials

Activity Partners

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Instructions

  1. Divide your class into groups of 4-5 students, and try to group together students who might initially perceive more differences than similarities between themselves. 
  2. Ask students in each group to think about ways they are alike, and work together to create a list of traits that each group member shares in common with everyone else in the group. For example, perhaps everyone in the group loves eating chocolate, has visited another city, or speaks more than one language. To make their lists, students might consider hobbies, experiences, family traditions, favorite foods, places they’ve visited, or languages they speak.

    Give everyone 5-10 minutes to make a list of everything they share in common with their group, and identify as many similarities as they can between themselves. 
  3. Then, bring them together to discuss what they discovered. You might ask:
    • What does your group share in common with each other? Were you surprised by anything?
    • How do you feel about your group members after discovering these similarities?
    • Did this activity help you feel more comfortable with each other?
    • Imagine you just met a new classmate. How would you try to discover similarities with them? How could you use your similarities to start a conversation or build a friendship with them?

    Write down students’ responses on sticky notes and place them on a board or wall visible to the class. Alternatively, use a tool such as Padlet or Google Jamboard to create a digital board that students can add their thoughts and ideas to.
  4. Next, ask students to individually think about 1-3 characteristics about themselves that make them unique or special, and then share their responses with the class. For example, students might consider their talents, personal achievements, cultural heritage, or other distinctive traits. 

    You might ask:
    • What makes you unique or different from your classmates?
    • How can you use these characteristics as strengths to contribute to a team or help others?

    Add students’ responses to the physical or digital board from the previous step.
  5. Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:
    • How does it feel to belong to a group and share things in common with each other?
    • How does it feel to learn that you have unique qualities that are different from the rest of your classmates?
    • What is a unique quality about a classmate that you appreciate?
    • How can we make sure that everyone feels valued and accepted for who they are?

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.