Grade: 1-2
Subject: Science

#1192. Learning About Our Similarities and Differences

Science, level: Elementary
Posted Sat Jul 24 06:19:39 PDT 1999 by Dr. Brian F. Geiger (
University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Education, Birmingham, AL
Materials Required: 3-4 groups of commonly found natural and man-made objects of assorted colors and sizes, such as inse
Activity Time: 30-45 minutes
Concepts Taught: Science Education - characteristics and needs of living organisms; Social Studies - human relations.

Objectives for Learners: Elementary students will: 1. associate organisms with their characteristics; 2. use observations to classify organisms (Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement, 1995); 3. select one personal action to prevent racism.

Body of Lesson: Prior to the class session, place objects by group on classroom tables. Open the lesson by telling students that we will examine objects to determine their characteristics. Characteristics include traits like shape, color, size, and texture. We often group objects together when they share similar characteristics; for instance, all marbles are round and made of glass, regardless of their color. Scientists group objects to classify and study them.

Ask students to identify the similarities and differences of objects within each group. For example, when considering insects there are many similarities: insects live outdoors; insects lay eggs; all insects have a head, thorax, abdomen; insects have six legs. Insect differences: some insects crawl, while others fly; different types of insects live in different environments; insects differ by color, size, and shape; some insects have stingers, others do not.

After classifying the other objects according to similarities and differences, consider the group of photos, dolls, or other illustrations of humans. Ask students to identify the characteristics shared by all people, e.g., two arms and legs; ten fingers and ten toes; walk upright; five senses of touch, taste, smell, hearing, and vision. Identify differences between groups of people: hair, skin, and eye color; language; food preferences; clothing; housing.

Discuss the importance of treating all people as equals, i.e., no one is more or less important than any other person. Racism is when some people treat others differently based on characteristics like skin color, age, or country of residence. We can prevent racism by treating all people as we would like to be treated by others. What is one thing you can do to act kindly toward people who appear to be different from you? Review students' suggestions as a group.

References: Harcourt Brace Educational Measurement. 1995. Compendium Supplement, Primary 3 - TASK 3, Stanford Achievement Test, 9th Edition.