Social Skills Lesson Plan on ‘Similarity Awareness:’
Identifying Our Similarities, Despite Our Differences

Lesson Plan Components:

              Objectives                 Introduction                      Motivation   

Modeling                  Practice                Closure                   Instructional Modifications

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*This lesson plan and all the concepts within it may be best taught by covering the material during a number of days/lessons.

Description of Audience:
This social skills lesson can be taught in a pre-K, kindergarten, first grade, or second grade classroom with children between the ages of three and eight years old with varying skill levels.  This lesson is to be taught as part of the Social Studies Unit:  “Who We Are.”  It will give students guidance and practice with regard to understanding the similarities between themselves and others despite existing differences. 

bowl/basket with different kinds of fruits
poster board/overhead slide chart of fruit characteristics
poster board/overhead slide Venn diagram of hair color groups
poster board/overhead slide Venn diagram of children with and without pets
poster board/overhead slide Venn diagram of Charlie and Isabelle
My Friend Isabelle  by Eliza Woloson (for pre-K and Kindergarten)
My Buddy by Audrey Osofsky (for grades 1 and 2)
Let’s Talk About It:  Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers
photograph of Josh, character in Let's Talk About It: Extraordinary Friends
graphic organizer Venn diagram handouts for drawing and/or writing
crayons and pencils
BoardMaker icons (Picture Exchange Communication symbols) with Velcro
Felt board designed with Venn diagram on one side and fruit chart on the other

Teacher Objective:
A requisite for social perspective taking is the ability to identify with others.  Emphasize the similarities between individuals who also have differences. 

Student Objective:
Students will be able to identify similarities they have with their classmates and with others although there are apparent differences.
Objective for the board: 
Today we will talk about how we are similar to one another although we also may have some differences. 

1) Show the class a bowl of different kinds of fruit (apple, banana, grapes, and an orange.)  Ask the students what is different and what is similar about the fruits. Put their responses on the fruit chart to show the categories that are different (size, shape, color) and the same (taste, type of food) about the fruits.

2) Ask the students to think of something that is different about everyone in the class (example: all live in different houses) and something that is similar (all go to the same school).

Present the objective that is written on the board: “Today we will talk about how we are similar to one another although we also may have some differences.”  Draw a KWL chart on the blackboard and ask students what they already know, and what they would like to know about what makes them similar to their classmates and to others despite differences that they may have as well as how they can discover some similarities. Explain to the class that the ‘L’ in the KWL chart stands for what they will have learned by the end of the lesson.  The ‘L’ part of the chart will be filled in at the end of the lesson. 

1)   Split the class by hair color.  Students with light hair will stand in a line at one end of the room.  Those with dark hair will stand in a line at the other end of the room. Explain that the difference in one’s hair color is a difference that is an obvious one and is one that we can see about each other. 

2)  While the students are standing in different groups, ask the students:  “Who likes sports?”  There may be a number of hands raised for both groups. Fill in the Venn diagram with the similarities and point out that although some students have differences in hair color, they still have similarities in what they like.  Then ask the two groups:  “Who likes to eat pizza?”  Point out the hands that are raised again, and add to the Venn diagram. 

3)  Next, split up the children between those who have a pet and those who don’t have pets.  Tell the class that this is a difference we can’t see about each other.  Ask another series of questions:  “Who likes to read books? “Who likes recess?” and “Who has been to Ocean City?” (or other popular vacation spot).  Point out again that although some students have pets and other students do not, both groups have similarities in what they like or perhaps where they have been.  Emphasize this visually by filling in the similarities in Venn diagram.

4)  At the end of the activity, ask the class: “What did we find out from this activity?”  (That although two groups or two people who have differences [some which we can see right away and some which we cannot know about just by looking at a person], there are still similarities and things which the groups or people share in common.  (What they like to do, eat, or perhaps where they have been). 

Modeling:  (For Pre-K and Kindergarten)
1)  Read the book entitled:  My Friend Isabelle by Eliza Woloson.  Have a discussion with the class after reading the story.  Ask:  “What is different about Isabelle and Charlie?” Write the comments on the board in a Venn diagram graphic organizer to show the differences: 

Charlie                                     Isabelle
            tall                                            short
            fast                                           takes her time
            carries a cat                              carries a doll
            knows a lot of words                her words are hard to understand

2)  Ask: “How do Isabelle and Charlie play together if they have a few differences?” Point out that although both children have a difference in their height [Charlie is tall and Isabelle is short], that the two friends paint together anyway.  Isabelle just stands on a chair so that she can reach the table to paint her paper.)

3) Ask: “What is similar about Isabelle and Charlie?” Write the comments on the board in the similarities part of the Venn diagram: 
same age
play together every Friday
like to draw and paint
like to dance
both cry when they forget to share or when their feelings are hurt
eat cheerios and drink apple juice
like to go down the slide
like to slide down on their own

4) Ask the students:  “If you are a fast runner and your friend cannot run as fast as you can, how would you play together outside? What if your friend uses a wheelchair? What are some ways you could play with each other during recess?” Have the students share their ideas out loud and ask students to put a thumbs up to how they like their classmates’ ideas.

5) Explain that:  “Isabelle is a child with a condition called Down syndrome.  This means that she doesn’t look or think quite like Charlie does.  She can do many of the things Charlie can do, but sometime it just takes her a little longer to do them. Charlie and Isabelle still have a strong friendship and enjoy playing together.” 

Modeling:  (For First Grade or Second Grade)
1) Read the book entitled: My Buddy by Audrey Osofsky.  Have a discussion with the class after reading the story.  Ask:  “What do you think is different about Buddy’s master (the little boy) and you?”  Write the comments on the board in the Venn diagram graphic organizer to show the similarities and differences.

Buddy’s Master
(possible responses)  
uses wheelchair
has a dog to help him do things
muscles are weak         

“What is similar about the main character in this book and his classmates/you?”
same age (?)
likes dogs
gets angry and sometimes cries
never gives up
goes to the mall
goes to school
likes to play tee ball outside
plays video games
likes cars and sports

2) Ask the students:  “If you are a fast runner and your friend cannot run fast because he/she uses a wheelchair like the boy in the story, how would you play together outside?  What are some ways you could play with each other during recess?”  Have the students do a ‘Think, Pair, Share.’ 

3) Each student will first think to him/herself about his/her response.  After a minute or so, each student will pair up with a classmate to discuss their individual responses.  After a few minutes of discussion, have some pairs of classmates share what they discussed with the rest of the class.

4) Explain that:  “The boy in this story is a child with a condition with muscular dystrophy.  This means that his muscles are weaker.  Although he can do most things that other children do, there are some things he can’t do which other children can do.  However, he still has strong friendships with Mike and others from his class at school.”

Warm-Up   (for all grades)
1) Read the book entitled:  Let’s Talk About It:  Extraordinary Friends by Fred Rogers.   After reading the book, ask the class if they have any questions about anything they saw or heard from the book. 

2) Ask: “What does it mean to have a disability?”  Engage the class in a discussion about how people with disabilities may have some differences in what they are able to do or how they do things, but they also have many similarities with people who don’t have disabilities.  (We all like to love and be loved, we are all special in our own ways, sometimes we want help and sometimes we want to try to do things on our own, we help each other, we like to have fun, and everybody needs and likes to have friends.) 

Guided Practice:
1) Present a photograph of the boy named Josh who is featured in the book:  Let’s Talk About It:  Extraordinary Friends. Tell about Josh in explaining that he is a boy who likes fire trucks, trains, race cars, cats, horseback riding, swimming, visiting people, pizza, and telling jokes.  Explain that Josh has a disability and uses a wheelchair to move around.  He also uses a computer to communicate with others. 

2) Ask the class:  “Although Josh may have some differences in how he does things compared to some of you, do you think there are some things about him that are similar to you?  If Josh were in your class, or was a boy living in your neighborhood, how might you be Josh’s friend and what might the two of you do together?” 

3) For a pre-K/Kindergarten class, ask for feedback/ideas from the students and ask peers to put a thumbs up to show they like the idea being shared. Students in first or second grade can do a ‘Think, Pair, and Share’ exercise to brainstorm about their responses regarding Josh. Students will first think on their own and then will pair up with a classmate to discuss their ideas and responses regarding what either student thinks. Walk around the pairs to listen to what is being discussed and perhaps facilitate for some groups.  After the pairs have wrapped up their discussion, students who feel comfortable might share their thoughts with the whole class.  

4) Get feedback from the students about what they have to say about Josh:  what they share in common with him and how they might be his friend.  Write some of the responses on the board.  Emphasize the point that although there are people in this world who are different from us, we still share things in common and can be friends based on our similarities while also learning from what makes us different.  

Independent Practice:

1) Give students the graphic organizer (Venn diagram) handouts/worksheets.  Ask students to draw and/or write about someone they can think of who has a disability and what he/she shares in common with that person even though he/she may be different. If the student cannot think of someone they know, he/she can draw and/or write about someone from either of the two books. 

2) Ask the students to also draw and/or write about at least one enjoyable thing they can think of that he/she can do together with that person.  During this time, walk around the classroom and make sure all students understand the directions and help any student who may feel confused by clarifying and giving prompts. 

1) When students are finished drawing and/or writing, have a few individuals share with the class what they drew and/or wrote.

2) Afterwards, refer back to the KWL chart on the board and review what the students’     prior knowledge was before the lesson, and ask students if they were able to find out what they wanted to know. 

3) Last of all, ask students about what they learned from the lesson about similarity awareness:  the activities, reading the books, and the class discussion. Write comments on the board.  Students may also write about what they learned at the bottom of their paper.

Evaluation component:
around the room as students are doing their own independent work and evaluate each student’s individual understanding and mastery of the social skill (identifying the similarities one has with one’s classmates and with others although there are apparent differences.)  Also check by way of completing the KWL chart and find out what students learned, how much of the class mastered the concept of understanding and identifying similarities between themselves and others despite existing differences: particularly disabilities. 

You may want to plan a day when students with disabilities from another class or school will get together with your class for a recreational activity such as an outdoor picnic and some games.  The teachers of both classes can pair students to be buddies for the day or put them into groups so that students can get a chance to interact and get to know each other as well as to play together and develop a relationship.  In this way, students will experience firsthand the similarities they have with others despite differences: particularly disabilities and how they can still enjoy spending time with each other!

Instructional Modifications/Adaptations to Meet All Students’ Needs

*Present information to provide for multi-modality learning.
The oral presentation of information is accompanied by visuals and key points are summarized throughout the lesson visually as well as orally.

*Use manipulative materials to introduce new concepts.
During the introduction, the teacher uses a bowl/basket of different kinds of fruits in order for students to be more actively involved and have increased motivation.  This also will reinforce their learning by having a concrete example demonstrated of the concept being introduced. 

*Provide ample “wait time” for students who may have difficulty answering questions or sharing their thoughts.
Some students may need more time to process and put together what they want to say in response to a question or when sharing an idea during discussion time. The teacher will honor this and provide the time that is needed. 

*Adapt the environment.
Students who are identified as having a physical, auditory, or visual impairment may need special seating arrangements during the lesson to a location in the classroom that is most conducive for their learning.  Also, the teacher will provide proper lighting, equipment, supports and materials that are needed. 

*Use graphic organizers.
Visual-spatial displays are used such as charts and Venn diagrams to show information to students in a meaningful way so that they can more easily the concept of two people/groups having both differences and similarities. 

*Use BoardMaker icons with Velcro to put onto felt board.
Using Board Maker Icons (Picture Exchange Communication symbols) is a great way to include all students in having everyone participate in putting the symbols on the felt board (graphic organizer).  It is also an important accommodation for students who are not able to read written words. Additionally, the symbols can aid in participation and communication during the lesson for students who are non-verbal.


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Created Spring, 2004. (fpu)