Breaking Down the Walls of Intolerance

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, members of the school community will tear down the wall collectively, uniting as one.
Grade Level

  • Black bulletin board paper
  • red construction paper
  • markers
  • scissors
  • stapler

Bullying and ostracism sometimes dominate school culture, leaving many students standing on the sidelines. Through fun activities, critical lessons and special events, Mix It Up has encouraged campuses to stand against acts of intolerance and to commit to breaking down the walls of division.

In this lesson, students will have an opportunity to share with one another how bullying and other acts of bias have helped build a "wall" of intolerance at school. On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, members of the school community will tear down the wall collectively, uniting as one.


All Grades Activity


Before beginning this lesson, each classroom teacher should create one "brick" for each student in the class, plus five extra. Create bricks by cutting red construction paper into 4-by-9-inch rectangles.

Next, the Mix It Up at Lunch Day committee should prepare a large bulletin board by covering it with black paper and affixing the title, "Breaking Down the Wall of Intolerance." Ideally the board will be in a common area of the school near the front door or in the cafeteria. If board space is not available, get permission from your administrator to tape the paper to a wall.

Afterward, seal a file folder (or large sheet of construction paper folded in half) on the left and right side, leaving the top open (similar to an envelope) and insert the extra red bricks made by each classroom teacher. Tape the folder to the wall near the bulletin board with a note explaining what the bricks are for and inviting guests to write on one.



Explain to students that half of all high school students in the United States have identified as a bully, admit to being bullied, or both. Bullying can be verbal or non-verbal, physical or non-physical. Bullying can be direct, like hitting, teasing or making threats. It can also be indirect, like rumors, manipulation, isolation and exclusion. A bully might be one person acting out independently, or a clique or group of people picking on someone out of a need to increase their popularity or to seem more cool.

Ask students to take a moment to reflect on their experiences with intolerance, isolation and bullying. This could be an interaction with a peer or an adult, inside of the school or out in the community. They could have been the perpetrator or the victim.

Teachers might want to provide students with their own personal example of a time they were a victim or a witness to bullying. If students feel comfortable, allow them a few moments to share their experiences aloud.

Next, have students write their reflections in a journal or on notebook paper before choosing one that they think others can learn from. For younger students, have them draw a picture reflecting their experience and dictate to the teacher what should be written.

At that point, distribute a red "brick" and black marker to each student and allow them to write the act of intolerance down on the brick. Again, for younger students, this could happen in the form of a drawing. It might be a good idea to approve their final choice to ensure appropriateness.

Over the days leading up to Mix It Up at Lunch Day, have each homeroom visit the board and place their bricks on the wall.

Students, faculty, staff, parents and other guests should be encouraged to add to the Wall using the extra bricks any time they witness an act of intolerance.


In The Lunchroom

On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, have students tear a brick (other than their own) from the Wall of Intolerance and take it to their seat in the cafeteria.

Encourage students to read the issue written on their brick with their new friends and discuss ways to eliminate that specific problem from their school culture.

By the end of the lunch period, the Wall of Intolerance should have been completely torn down.


Extension Activity

  • Once the Wall begins to take shape, have students write journal entries related to the intolerance that has transpired and how they can take a stand.
  • Have students take a picture of the Wall of Intolerance and write letters to the president about the injustices they've witnessed, what they plan to do about it and ways in which he can help on a national level.
Teaching Tolerance collage of images

Welcome to Learning for Justice—Formerly Teaching Tolerance!

Our work has evolved in the last 30 years, from reducing prejudice to tackling systemic injustice. So we’ve chosen a new name that better reflects that evolution: Learning for Justice.

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