Me and We: We Are All Similar and Different

In this activity, students explore and appreciate the various similarities we all share, as well as our differences.
Grade Level

  • 10 sheets of paper, numbered 1 to 10, taped to the wall


Early Grades

  • Internet access or paper, pens or crayons

This activity is useful for planning Mix It Up at Lunch Day or when building intergroup relationships.


Icebreaker Activity for All Grades


Take students out in the hall and mark off an area about 40 feet long with sections ranging from 1 to 10.

Encourage students not to talk during this exercise, but to keep their eyes open. Then say, "I'm going to name some concepts, items or titles. I want you to move to an area based on how you rate each one. For instance, if you like something a great deal, move to the 7 or 8 area. If you love it, move to 10. If you really hate it, move to the 1 or 2 area." Then read the following list:

  • ice cream
  • broccoli
  • professional athletes
  • jazz
  • opera
  • rock 'n' roll
  • rap/hip hop
  • action movies

After each concept or item, allow students time to move and look at where their peers moved. With each new topic, expect a lot of movement, a lot of looking around, some laughter and a few remarks.


Early Grades Procedures

Return to the classroom and ask students: "Was there a time in the hallway when you and one of your friends felt differently about an item I named?" Invite volunteers to share. Explore with students the idea that we don't have to like all of the same things to be friends. As a class, discuss: "What brings people together as friends? What kinds of behaviors are really important for people to stay friends with each other?" Students can work in pairs to create booklets describing how their answers in the icebreaker activity were different and how they can still be friends.


Upper Grades Procedures

Return to the classroom and ask students, "What kinds of things tend to divide us in this school?" Provide prompts as needed, such as "Hobbies? Where we live?" and allow students to drive the conversation as much as possible.

Next, re-do an icebreaker item that really Mixed Up students in the hallway, one that you noticed resulted in students standing with peers with whom they don't normally interact. (Rather than returning to the hall, students can simply stand in groups whose "scores" are 1-3, 4-6 and 8-10.)

Point out that while some things may divide us, other things can unite us — even simple things like ice cream. As a closing activity, students should extrapolate the larger "diversity message" of the activity by reflecting in writing on Jimmy Carter's words: "We have become not a melting pot but a beautiful mosaic. Different people, different beliefs, different yearnings, different hopes, different dreams."

This lesson is adapted from Tom Scheft's activity Setting the Stage for Controversial Subjects.

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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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