Calm children's nerves on the first day of kindergarten with these self-esteem building exercises that center on sharing feelings, identifying their unique traits, and learning about the five senses.
- Draw and tell about what they think boys and girls are able to do after a class discussion and a reading
- Compare and contrast what they drew before and after
- Use listening strategies while hearing a story being read
- A book about gender, stereotypes, and how name-calling can hurt (my favorite book on this topic is Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola)
- What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable
- Chart paper and markers
- Pencils and crayons
- Optional: William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow and William Pène du Bois
- Make two class sets of the What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable.
- Use a sheet of chart paper to make a t-chart with two columns labeled "What Boys Can Do" and "What Girls Can Do."
Step 1: Tell students about a student from last year who was the best kickball player in the class, loved to go fishing and catch lizards, and was always getting into fights with other students. Write the names of three students (at least one male name and one female name) on the whiteboard or chart paper. For example, Jose, Kayla, and Franklin (try not to use names of children in your class).
Step 2: Read the names and ask students which student they think you were talking about. Have students raise their hands and tally the responses. Most will think it was a boy student.
Step 3: Show students your chart with the columns "What Boys Can Do" and "What Girls Can Do." Ask students to tell you what boys can do and what girls can do. Chart all responses.
Step 4: Distribute the What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable and ask students to draw (and write, if appropriate) one thing a boy can do on one side and one thing a girl can do on the other side.
Step 5: Gather students together and have volunteers share their pictures with the class. In response to a few pictures, ask, "Could a girl could do what you have pictured a boy doing?" and "Could a boy could do what you have pictured a girl doing?"
Step 1: Read aloud an age-appropriate book about gender, stereotypes, and how name-calling can hurt. I like to read Oliver Button Is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola.
Step 2: After the story, remind students of the student you talked about yesterday. Tell them that the student was Kayla. Explain to them that many of us thought it was a boy because we have an idea of the way people should be. Ways we think people should be are called "stereotypes."
Step 3: Ask students to explain what people in the story thought Oliver should do and what they thought he should not do. Discuss how the people in the story had a stereotype of the way Oliver should be, just like we had a stereotype of the way Kayla should be.
Step 4: Ask students to explain how Oliver was different from the stereotype we have of the way boys should be. What did the boys in the story do to Oliver because they had a stereotype of the way boys should be? (They called him a sissy.) Tell students that calling someone a "sissy" is name-calling. Ask, "How did this name-calling make Oliver feel?" Ask students if anyone has ever called them a name and how it made them feel.
Note: If you did not read Oliver Button Is a Sissy, adapt the questions for your book.
Step 5: Refer students back to the chart they made yesterday. Talk about how some of these things are stereotypes of the way boys and girls should be. Go through each response and ask if the other gender could do it too. Encourage discussion.
Step 6: Distribute the What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable again and ask students to draw again one thing a boy can do on one side and one thing a girl can do on the other side. Encourage students to use suggestions from the chart, but to use activities from the opposite list for boys and girls.
Step 7: Gather students together. Collect the pictures and share those that might show gender diversity and a difference from what the children may have charted on Day 1.
Supporting All Learners
- Allow emerging writers to write their own sentences on their papers, while taking dictation for others.
- For Spanish speakers, read the Spanish version, Oliver Button es una Nena.
Read William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow. Tell students that the things that Oliver and William liked to do made them special. They continued to do them even though people called them names, which is wrong.
Ask students if there is anything that they think they would like to do from either of the lists, especially from the opposite gender's list. Encourage the class to support those students who feel they can do anything. Remind them that sometimes people have stereotypes about what they can or cannot do.
- Complete the What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable before learning about stereotypes
- Complete the What Can Boys and Girls Do? T-Chart printable after learning about stereotypes
- Did students understand the word stereotype?
- How do the pre- and post-responses differ?
- How might I do this lesson differently next time?
- Observe students' oral responses during class discussions.
- Compare the pre- and post-drawings.