Caring for Hair

Among the characteristics that can take on meaning for young children is hair—hairstyles, hair texture and type. In this jigsaw activity, students will review information from brochures/websites about local hair care providers, interview a local hair care provider, synthesize the material, and teach it to others. Students will identify similarities and differences between the providers and gain a deeper understanding of diverse ways people care for their hair.
Grade Level


At the end of the lesson, students will be able to: 

  • draw on prior knowledge by writing a one-paragraph story about hair. 
  • examine informational text(s) and synthesize the information. 
  • identify similarities and differences in the information gathered across groups. 
  • apply what they learn by writing new one-paragraph stories about hair.
Essential Questions
  • Why is it important to try to understand other people’s experiences?
  • Essential Questions:
    • Trying to understanding other people’s experiences is important because it helps us become more respectful and accepting of people who are different from ourselves. It can also help us find things that we have in common with others.
  • Before beginning this unit, teachers should identify four local hair care providers who are willing to be interviewed by students. Consider the cultural and ethnic groups represented in your classroom in making your selections; also consider tapping the support of parents or guardians who work as hair care professionals. Teaching Tolerance recommends the inclusion of a barber specializing in men’s hair, as well as a representative from a salon that primarily serves African Americans. 
  • Brochures (or website addresses) for the hair care providers participating in the lesson. 
  • To support technology standards, access to computers with Internet and email. In classrooms where this is not possible, interviews may be conducted by phone or in person. 
  • Pens or pencils and notepaper. 
  • Copies of a four-way Venn Diagram


Vocabulary will vary depending on the hair care providers selected. For a partial listing of hairstyles, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hairstyle#Selected_hairstyles. For facial-hair styles, see: http://www.dyers.org/blog/beards/beard-type-chart/

  • beard  [beerd]  (noun)  facial hair on the lower part of a chin 
  • hair coloring [hair kuhl-er-ing]  (noun)  the chemical treatment of hair to change its color 
  • hair texture [hair teks-cher]  (noun) the distance around (circumference of) a hair strand. Professionals classify the texture of hair as being “coarse,” “medium”, or “fine.” Coarse hair has the largest circumference, and fine hair has the smallest. Medium texture indicates a middle-range of the size of the hair shaft and poses no special considerations regarding processing and chemical services.  
  •  hair type [hair tahyp] (noun)  the degree of curl in hair. Generally speaking, there are four types: 1) straight hair with no curl or wave, can possess any texture, 2) wavy hair with an “S” shape, which tends to be coarse in texture, 3) curly hair, usually fine in texture, can appear straight when wet, but contracts to the curly state as it dries; 4) kinky hair, tightly coiled hair that appears coarse, but usually quite fine with lots of thin strands packed together, looks curly when wet. 
  • hairstyle [hair-stahyl]  (noun)  a way of arranging head hair, which are often selected based on hair texture, hair type, and cultural preferences 
  • mustache  [muhs-tash] (noun)  facial hair grown on the upper lip 
  • permanent wave [pur-muh-nuhnt weyv], or perm [purm] (noun)  the chemical and/or thermal treatment of hair to produce waves, curls or straight hair. 
  • relaxer [ri-laks-er] (noun)  a type of lotion or cream which makes hair less curly, and easier to straighten by chemically “relaxing” the natural curls. 
  • sideburns [sahyd-burnz] (noun)  patches of facial hair on the sides of the face, extending from the hairline to below the ears


Suggested Procedure

Note: Prior to beginning the lesson, identify which students you will place in each of four small groups (one group per hair-care provider). As much as possible, ensure that membership in each group includes gender and racial/cultural diversity. Throughout this activity, “walk the room” and support groups as needed. 

1. Ask students to select three words from the vocabulary list and write a one-paragraph story using those words in five minutes. Explain that they will save their stories for later reference.  

2. Break students into four small groups. Have each group work together to review the material in the provided brochure (or at the provided website address.) Ask: “What does it tell you about this provider’s hair care services?” Tell each group to make a list of things about which they would like to know more. 

3.  Ask groups to create a set of interview questions for their provider. Tell them that they should use open-ended questions that require an answer greater than a single word or two. Explain that sometimes, crafting a question like this is as simple as adding a “why?” or “how?” at the end. Give them the following example: “Instead of asking, ‘What are the most popular hairstyles right now?’ you could ask, ‘Can you tell us about some of the most popular hairstyles right now? Who tends to request them, and why? Are some types of hair better suited for some people more than others? How so?’” 

4. Have students work in their groups to draft an email correspondence to their hair care provider. Tell students to be sure to introduce themselves, explain the purpose of their email, set out their questions and thank the provider for helping them. As each group is done, review their email drafts and help them send their emails. 

5. Once a group has received a reply from its provider, the members should discuss what they have learned and create a summary with key findings and themes. Tell students that they will be asked to present this information to others in the class. Advise them to work to organize the information so it will be interesting, and makes sense, to their peers. 

6. Once the groups have completed their summaries, break the students into new groups of four, with each student in the group representing a different provider. Ask each member of the newly formed groups to take about five minutes to describe findings about his or her hair care provider. Remind students to ask questions, as needed or as interests arise. 

7. Provide each of the new groups with a copy of the four-way Venn Diagram. Tell students that now that they have presented their information, they will work as a group to complete the Venn Diagram handout. To get them started, ask: “What themes or practices were shared among providers? How did they differ?” Explain to students how to fill out the Venn diagram. After students are done, have each group report back to the class by sharing a theme that arose in their discussions. 

8.  Explain to students that they will now revisit the one-paragraph story they wrote at the beginning of this activity. Ask students to re-write the story using new information they gained during the course of this lesson. Tell them that this is an opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of the ways diverse people can care for their hair. When they are finished, invite students to share both their original and revised stories with your class.

Common Core State Standards: R.1, R.2, W.2, W.4, W.5, W.6, SL.1, SL.2, SL.4

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