Unique Monique: Building a Community of Unique Individuals
Sappington Elementary School

This purpose of this lesson is to build a caring community within a classroom. The lesson will encourage students to identify their unique talents, abilities, and strengths and thereby increase self-confidence. The lesson will also encourage students to identify how their classmates’ unique talents, abilities, and strengths add to the learning environment. Hopefully, after discussing and celebrating the unique qualities evident among the classroom, students will develop greater respect for and acceptance of others. This lesson is ideal for the beginning of the year, as it not only introduces each student, but also begins the school year in an open environment that welcomes ALL students.

Students will:
  • define the word unique.
  • identify ways Monique made herself unique.
  • discuss ways they are unique.
  • identify ways other classmates are unique.
  • identify ways the classroom benefits from a unique blend of individuals.
  • Puzzle pieces from a puzzle
  • Unique Monique by Maria Rousaki
  • Paper puzzle pieces (white cardstock cut into puzzle shapes)
  • Bulletin board
  • Crayons/markers
1. Opening:  Before beginning the lesson, pin puzzle pieces on the bulletin board. The puzzle pieces should fit together nicely. Hand out one puzzle piece (from actual puzzle) to each student, and ask the following questions. Discuss.
  • Have you ever put a puzzle together?
  • Did you notice that each piece fitted together perfectly?
  • What would happen to your picture if one puzzle piece was missing?
  • Look at the small puzzle piece I handed to you. What do you notice about that piece?
  • Look at your neighbor’s puzzle piece. Are they shaped the same? Different? What about the colors of the pieces? Are they similar?
  • Please think about how different your puzzle piece is than your neighbors. Though you may share similar colors, the shape is different, and fits in the puzzle uniquely.”

2. Read Aloud:  Read Unique Monique aloud to students.
3. Discussion/Class Meeting: Have the class discuss the story. (It is recommended that students sit in a circle and follow same expectations as they would a class meeting.) Use these questions to facilitate discussion.
  • What does unique mean?
  • How did Monique show she was unique?
  • Why do you think she wanted to be so unique?
  • What happened when she showed everyone her uniqueness?
  • How do you think Monique felt when she walked in the school looking different from everyone else there?
  • How would you feel walking into school looking different? Why?
  • What makes you unique?
  • How do you feel when other people see how you are unique? Why?
  • How do you think we should treat each other when recognize our unique qualities or qualities that make us different?
  • What would happen if we were all the same, we looked the same, we were good at the same things, we were bad at the same things?

4. Activity:  Hand out the white puzzle pieces from bulletin board.  (Before doing so, show students how all these pieces fit together to form one board. Explain to students that this board will symbolize the class.) Instruct the students to create their own puzzle pieces, symbolizing their unique qualities. You can model a puzzle piece you have created, to help students visualize what to do. Students can write, draw, or list qualities, abilities, strengths, likes/dislikes, etc.
5. Sharing: Students share their puzzle pieces and the qualities that make them special and important.
6. Building: Students work together to put the puzzle pieces together on the bulletin board.
7. Reflection/Closing:  Close the lesson with an open discussion about what students learned from each other and about the class as a community. Emphasize that each unique puzzle piece fits perfectly in a puzzle, just as each unique student fits perfectly in the classroom. Without one piece, or without one student, the picture/class would not be as good or complete.
Use student responses from the discussions to assess learning and understanding. Through observation, you may modify the lesson or return to questions and concepts that may seem unclear to the students.