This lesson is particularly effective in the beginning of the year as it allows students to begin to know each other. The book Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell raises the importance of appreciating our differences, learning from our mistakes, and working together to be successful. The detailed illustrations provide an opportunity to notice subtleties, thus allowing children the experience of taking their time to enjoy a book. This can be compared to life’s journey.
- recognize that our differences began at birth.
- recognize winning or losing is not what is most important.
- see mistakes as learning opportunities.
- understand the importance of helping each other.
- Is There Really a Human Race? by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell (illustrator), Joanna Cotler (2006)
- Paper or tagboard cutouts of a student (“paper dolls”)
- Small items or pictures which illustrate the students’ interests
2. Begin the book and ask the students to look very carefully at the illustrations noticing all the differences in the appearances. Ask students to think about people they have seen in the mall or elsewhere. Do we start out differently at birth? How do we treat those who are different from us?
3. Stop and discuss the following pages of the book as you read:
4. Culminating Activity: Create a template of an outline of child. Copy it on to plain white paper, construction paper, or tagboard. Cut it out or allow students to cut out their own “paper dolls.” Have students take home their paper dolls to dress and decorate, illustrating things they are good at or really enjoy doing. Encourage students to talk to their family about what they might put on their doll. Have students turn in the paper dolls so that they can be displayed in the classroom or hallway with the title “We’re a Team.”
- Observe student discussions and check for understanding.
- Evaluate paper dolls for completion and effort.
Extensions and Adaptations
- The culminating activity, creating paper dolls, can be done at home or in class.
- Students may create their own paper doll cutouts, rather than have them provided.
- Take pictures of each student and have students write about their strengths, abilities, and backgrounds. Display on a classroom bulletin board or elsewhere for all to see.
- Have students discuss or write about what their class could do to make the school better (cleaning the school yard, for example).