My Way Is Not the Only Way

This lesson asks students to identify similarities and differences between different belief systems.
Grade Level


Students will:

  • Learn about different belief systems.
  • Appreciate the benefits of living in a country with many different religious beliefs.
  • Identify similarities and differences of different belief systems.
Essential Questions
  • What do religious traditions and beliefs say about people? What can I learn from the religious traditions and beliefs of others?
  • How would our nation be different if there was only one religion?
  • What connections can we make between different religions? What can we learn from the uniqueness of different belief systems?
  • Images of a yarmulke, hijab, turban, Buddhist robe, tilak and a cross.
  • Flip chart or large signs.
  • Student Book: “All About Religions.” (Note: This should be reproduced and cut out for each student before class.)
  • Several long pieces of string (two strings of different colors for each small group).


This lesson helps students learn about many different belief systems in the United States and examine how they are the same, how they are different, and how they are all equally important. Students should be encouraged to view what they learn in the context of their own lives, helping them to understand each other’s beliefs and the beliefs of those in their communities. 



belief [ bih-leef ] (noun) Something that is believed, like an opinion.

denomination [ dih-nom-uh-ney-shuhn ] (noun) A religious group. 

diversity [ dih-vur-si-tee ] (noun) Being different.

religion [ ri-lij-uhn ] (noun) A set of beliefs about why we are here on Earth, our purpose in life, what happens after we die, what is moral, and what is sacred.

unaffiliated [ un-uh-fil-ee-ey-tid ] (adj) Not part of a formal group.



  1. Show students the photographs of the religious articles of clothing or symbols. Ask them to describe to a partner what they see. Refer back to the definition of the word “religion” from Lesson 1 and ask students to talk with partners about how religion relates to the pictures. Explain that all of the pictures show a special piece of clothing or a symbol that is important to someone’s religion. 
  2. Ask students to guess what is special about each symbol or piece of clothing. Examples include:
    • A yarmulke, or kippah, is worn on the heads of some Jewish males to show respect for God.
    • A hijab is worn by some Muslim women to conceal their faces so that only husbands or family members can see them.
    • A turban is worn by Sikh men and women to show complete commitment to the religion.
    • Some Buddhists wear plain robes as the sign of a simple life.
    • Some Hindus wear a tilak on their foreheads to show where the spiritual eye opens. It helps to remind them of their religious goals.
    • Some Christians wear a cross to represent sacrifice.
  3. Ask students to talk with their partners about this: How might their lives be different if everyone believed the same thing? Direct them to present their answers to another pair of students.  
  4. List the following religions on signs or flip chart paper around the room: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism, Wicca, Bahai and/or Zoroastrianism. Using markers placed at each sign, ask students to write anything they know about each religion on its corresponding sign. Review answers.
  5. Distribute the “All About Religions” student book. Ask students to read the story independently. Then, ask student volunteers to take turns adding information, based on what they learn from the book, to the signs around the room. You can scribe for students or allow partners to scribe for each other.
  6. Direct small student groups to stand by one of the religion signs around the room. Distribute two long pieces of string (each of a different color) to each group. Ask them to use information from the “All About Religions” book to identify one way that the religion on their sign is “similar” to another religion. Once they have an answer, direct them to hold one end of the string and ask the group standing next to the religion that is similar to hold the other end, connecting the two groups by the string. They then must explain to the rest of the class what is similar about the two religions. For example: “The Jewish religion is similar to the Buddhist religion because they both pray in a temple.” Ask students to hold the strings in place until all connections are made.
  7. Repeat the exercise by asking students to identify what is “different” from the religion on their sign and the religion on another sign, using a different-colored string.


Additional Resources

  • “One World, Many Religions: The Ways We Worship.” Mary Pope Osborne, Alfred Knopf Publishing, 1996.
    In this highly acclaimed book, Mary Pope Osborne introduces readers to the seven major religions of the world. “One World, Many Religions” covers the history, beliefs and practices of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.


Extension Activity

Ask students to write and illustrate a book about their own religion or belief system, or about a religion or set of beliefs about which they would like to learn. Each page should include a different fact about foods, prayer, history, leaders, celebrations, rituals, places of worship, or clothing. When the books are finished, invite other classes and family members to a book reading where students can showcase learning, and community members can have an opportunity to learn what is unique and similar about different religions.


Activities and embedded assessments address the following standards using the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts:CCSS: W.4, SL.1, SL.2, L.1, L.2