Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Peace Begins with Me

Judith Bachay


This lessons help students develop pro-social skills. Through the metaphors of a Dr. Seuss story, students identify bias, prejudice and discrimination. They brainstorm and practice skills that promote respect for diversity.


The student knows nonviolent, positive behaviors for resolving conflict (eg., peer mediation).

The student knows various ways to communicate care, consideration, and acceptance of self and others (eg., by cooperating).


-"The Sneetches and Other Stories." Theodor Giesel Zeuss, New York, Random House. 1904, '61, '89
-Vocabulary (see Associated File)


Read and become familiar with the definitions.
Duplicate the file if each student is to receive a copy of the vocabulary.


1. Ask the students questions such as:
a) Do you know places where name-calling and put-downs are used?
b) Can you tell us of any incidents where places of worship have burned or robbed?
c) Are there some people who are paid less than others for doing the same work?

2. Discuss the answers with students.

3. Introduce vocabulary and post on board: (Optional, use the vocabulary sheet (see Associated File) and duplicate for each student to have and use for the lesson.)

Stereotype = Oversimplified generalization about a group of people. When people say that all members of a specific nationality, religion, race or gender are cheap, lazy, criminal or dumb, they are expressing stereotypes. All groups have both cheap and generous individuals who commit crimes. To label an entire group based on the actions of some is to engage in stereotyping. Even when a sterotype is positive, such as when people in one racial group are thought to be superior athletes, the consequences of stereotypes are negative.

Prejudice = Attitudes or opinions about a person or group simply because the person belongs to a specific religion, race, nationality, or other group. Prejudice is prejudging a person. A person who thinks, "I don't want (blank) living in my neighborhood," is expressing a prejudice.

Discrimination = When people act on the basis of their prejudice or stereotypes they are discriminating. Discrimination may mean putting other people down, not allowing them to participate in activities, restricting their access to work or to live in certain neighborhoods, or denying them something they are entitled to be right and law.

Definitions provided by WWW.ADL.ORG (Anti-Defamation League, 2001)

4. After definition introduction and discussion, read the story, "The Sneetches."

5. After the story, Ask the students to identify the behavior of the Star- Belly Sneetches. Ask students: What were their attitudes toward the Sneetches without Stars? (Stereotyped) What assumptions did they make about all of the Sneetches without stars? (Prejudice) What actions did they take and how did they treat the Sneetches without Stars? (Discrimination)
What was the trick that Mr. McBean played? What did he assume about the Sneetches? Was he right or wrong?

Follow up Discussion:
6. Are stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination fair? Do they help us feel included and promote peace and justice?

7. Group class in groups of 4 or 5 students and ask them to develop their own role-plays of situations in which people are treated fairly, after they observe the following role plays.

The Crayon Community (Part 1)
-Pretend that you are all red crayons, and you hear that a family of yellow crayons are coming to live in your neighborhood. Someone in another community told you that yellow crayons are greedy and always cut in front of the cafeteria lines and always take their classmate's school materials. Half of your group is to pretend that they believe this stereotype and try to talk the red crayons into believing this stereotype.-

The Crayon Community (Part 2)
The teacher takes the group that believes the negative stereo types and asks them to share the effects of their belief about the stereotype (prejudice). Would they be friendly and welcoming to the new neighbors?

The Crayon Community (Part 3)
The same group is then directed to roleplay their behavior towards the yellow crayons who they believe to be mean, greedy and pushy. This will demonstrate the student's understanding of discrimination.

8. Now the students are ready to role play situations that they devise in which they do not stereotype, have prejudicial attitudes, or discriminate.

Teacher process:
How would it feel to be a yellow crayon coming into a red crayon community? Have you ever felt like that? What can we do to make everyone feel welcome?


Assess student's ability to understand and apply definitions through formative verbal feedback.

In addition, each student writes a letter to a student in the first or second grade, or a fictitious person. Check for the letter for students defining stereotype, prejudice and discrimination and giving expert advice on how and why these attitudes and behaviors do not promote peace and justice.

Use the "Assessing What You Have Learned" Word document (see Associated File) to formatively assess students' knowledge of stereotyping, prejudice and discrimination.

Circulate and observe students as they are writing their sentences. Check that they are demonstrating how to show care, consideration, and acceptance of others.


Extensions to the lesson can include written stories that students develop using the three concepts. Class can create solutions for inclusive behaviors. Students can role play situations that promote anti-bias behaviors of inclusion.

Extender: Cut From the Same Cloth
Materials: Strips of different color cloth
Write ideas for things that we can do to promote peace and justice-
Tie cloths on string
Make decorated banner with ideas, write class letter to principal, newspaper, legislators.

Web Links

Web supplement for Peace Begins With Me
Peace Now

Web supplement for Peace Begins With Me
Anti-Defamation League

Attached Files

Vocabulary Sheet and Assessing What You Have Learned documents     File Extension: pdf

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