Many Shapes and Sizes

In this lesson, students will hear a story about a small town and five friends who have different shapes, sizes, colors, and talents and will make body tracings that illustrate their unique shape and size. This lesson is designed to help children celebrate their differences, sizes, and body types. Children will recognize that people vary in many ways and those differences make all of us individuals. 
Grade Level


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

  • share ideas related to an appreciation of body diversity among students.  
  • discuss and identify ways to maintain a healthy body.  
  • recognize that people should judge others not by physical characteristics (how they look, color of hair, kind of clothing, shoes, etc.) but by internal characteristics, which are the ways that person behaves or acts. 
Essential Questions
  • When is it fair to judge people? 
  • What might be the best way to keep your body strong and healthy?
  • Enduring Understandings:
    • People should judge others by how they act and treat others —not by outside appearance.
    • The best way to keep your body strong is by eating healthy foods and staying active (walk, run, swim, etc.).
  • butcher block paper (1 sheet for each student) 
  • collage materials (e.g., yarn, buttons, etc.)  
  • construction paper 
  • masking tape 
  • scissors and glue 
  • magazine pages showing different food groups and snacks to eat less frequently 
  • The book, Shapesville, by Andy Mills and Becky Osborn. This picture book is about a small town where five friends of various shapes, sizes, colors, and talents celebrate what makes each of them unique. (Discussion questions and brief information for educators and parents are in the back of the book.) 
  • If you prefer to find a different book on this topic, look here


  • shape [sheyp] (noun) the outside surface or outline of a form or figure 
  • unique [yoo-neek] (adjective) one of a kind; having no equal.


Suggested Procedure

1.  Prepare for the lesson by providing each student with a sheet of butcher-block paper large enough to do a body tracing. Gather items that students can use to decorate their body tracings (e.g., yarn, buttons, pipe cleaners, crayons, markers, etc.). Place the materials on several tables or workstations. 

2.  Tell students you are going to read a book together. Explain that it is about a place called Shapesville, where everyone is a different size, shape and color, and each member of the town is special. Read Shapesville aloud, then use the following discussion questions to encourage discussion:  

  • Which character did you like best? Why? 
  • Which character is most like you? How?  
  • Are your friends and family members different shapes, sizes and colors? How are they different?  
  • What can you do to take care of your body, and keep it strong and healthy?  
  • What can you do with your body that you are proud of?  

3.  Read this quote from the story and discuss the questions below.  

"It’s not the size of your shape, or the shape of your size, but the size of your heart, and that deserves first prize. So be proud of your body, any size or shape will do.  Be proud of your body because YOU are a STAR too!"   

  • What makes you a special person on the inside? 
  • What kinds of thing might make you a star?  

4.  Explain to students that they will explore the special shapes and sizes of the students in their class.      Divide the students into small groups and assign an adult to work with each group. Have the adults help each student create a body tracing of their unique shape and size on a sheet of butcher paper. 

Note: If you do not have enough adults to supervise the body tracing for each student, have students create a collage. Cut out multicolored pieces of paper in advance, and direct students to glue them on to a sheet of construction paper in a configuration that reflects their unique body shape and size. 

5.  After all of the tracings are complete, invite students to decorate their body tracings using the materials prepared in step #1. If possible, take a photo of each student’s face—or have students bring one in from home—and affix it to the appropriate place on each tracing. Hang the completed body tracings around the classroom and take the class on a tour of all the bodies. As you tour around, allow each student a few moments to describe what is special about his or her body. 

6.  Remind students that our different shapes and sizes make each of us unique and special. Reinforce that it is important to take care of our bodies by eating healthy foods and being active. What counts most is not what our bodies look like on the outside, but what kind of person we are on the inside.

Common Core State Standards: ELA-Literacy. CCRA. R.1; R.2; R.3; R.4; R.10; W.1; W.2; W.3; W.4; Sl.1; SL.2; SL.4; L.4. 


Extension Activity

1.  If teasing or bullying based on body size has occurred among students, use the body drawings to remind students that each person is special, and that making fun of someone’s differences is wrong. Do not make teasing an issue if does not come up naturally. Note: You may also want to ask students to draw pictures of ways to respond constructively to teasing that they might experience. They may also want to show ways to be a good friend to others who are the targets of teasing and bullying. 

2.  Talk with students about caring for their bodies through healthy eating. Introduce the five basic food groups (fruits, vegetables, grains, proteins, and dairy) and help students to make distinctions about "growing" foods (foods that help your body to grow in a healthy way) and “sometimes” foods (foods to eat less often because they are not as healthy). Have students bring in magazine pictures or actual food wrappers/containers that reflect the categories above. Guide them in creating collages to reinforce "taking care of our special bodies.” 

3.  Discuss how to keep the body healthy through healthy activities. Ask students to identify an activity that they like to do. Have them draw a picture or write a story that features them engaged in this activity. Have students demonstrate the activity for their classmates. If possible, arrange for them to teach others how to do the activity

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