Friendship Without Barriers

This lesson lets students examine what it means to be a friend and explore ways in which people can make friends. The lesson explores stories that tell of building barriers between groups, such as the story presented in Spanish and English, "Papalotzin and the Monarchs/Papalotzin y las monarcas" and/or the folk tale "Old Joe and the Carpenter." You may adapt this lesson to discuss anti-bullying messages.  
Grade Level


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

  • identify different ways to make friends.  
  • discuss things people might do to encourage friendship or to discourage friendship.
Essential Questions
  • How might people find ways to make friends with other people or to start friendships?
  • What are some of the ways people might discourage friendships with others?
  • Enduring Understandings:
    • People can find different ways to make friends with others and to get along with other people.
    • People can do things to encourage friendships but some people do things to discourage friendships.


  • behavior [bih-heyv-yer] (noun) the way someone acts or behaves; actions that can be observed  
  • carpenter [kahr-puh n-ter] (noun) a person who builds or repairs wooden structures such as houses, cabinets, or shelving 
  • discourage [dih-skur-ij] (verb) to remove or withhold courage, hope, or confidence; to show disapproval of something  
  • encourage [en-kur-ij] (verb) to inspire or support with courage, spirit, or confidence


Suggested Procedure

Introductory Activity (optional):

Prior to reading the story to the class in English and/or Spanish, have students create butterflies in various colors using a simple template. Encourage creativity using stickers, paint, and other craft items. Ahead of time, before reading the story, display all the butterflies clumped together in one corner of the room.  

Read the story aloud to the class just before lunch or recess. (Suspend the reading before you reach the point when Papalotzin kicks down the wall.) While the children are out, move the butterflies around the room, scattered everywhere. When the children return, ask: “What do you notice about the butterflies?”  Then read conclusion of the story.

1. Read either stories, or select the story that best suits the level of students in your class.  

2. Discuss the meaning, and relevance, of the stories by asking questions.  

If you read “Papalotzin and the Monarchs/Papalotzin y las monarcas,” choose among these questions for a class discussion:  

  • Why do you think the Great North built a wall to separate itself from the Great South? Are there both good reasons and bad reasons? What might they be?  
  • Were the people trying to keep something in, or keep something out?  
  • Why didn't the North try to rebuild the wall after Papalotzin knocked it down?  
  • How do you think the Great North felt about the Great South having all of the glorious monarch butterflies? Why?  
  • What happened to the people when they felt sad and trapped by the wall? What happened to them when Papalotzin tore the wall down?  
  • Have you ever felt that there was a kind of wall or separation between people—not a real wall, but a way of making people feel apart?  How might a person “wall out” someone else? What might that feel like?  
  • Have you ever had friends “build a bridge” or say they are sorry after they did something hurtful? What did that feel like? 
  • How might it feel to be left out of something you want to be a part of, or to be outside a wall? 
  • What might you do to tear down a wall? How would you do that? What can we learn from this story? 

If your class reads “Old Joe and the Carpenter,” discuss these questions: 

  • Why might Old Joe want to build a fence? Were there both good reasons and bad reasons? 
  • What is the difference between building a fence and building a bridge?  
  • Have you ever had a friend make an apology "build a bridge" after saying or doing something hurtful? What was that like? 
  • How might it feel be kept out of something you want to be a part of?  
  • How might it feel to be put on the other side of a wall or a fence? 
  • If someone puts up a fence, what might you do to tear it down? How would you do that?  

3. Ask students to reflect on one of these stories and what they think the story (or stories) meant. You can invite every student to choose one character in the story and write to that character. Ask the children to discuss how the character behaved to encourage or discourage friendship. 

Common Core State Standards: ELA-Literacy. CCRA. R.1, R.2, R.5, W.3, W.4, W.9, SL.1, SL.3, L.4, L.5


Extension Activity

Guide students in creating two lists. One list should include things people might say as they build a wall. For example, "You can't play with us anymore." The other list should include what people might say to tear walls down/build bridges. For example, "We would like it if you played with us at recess today." Display both in the classroom and refer back to them as necessary.

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