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Sameness and Differences: Building Disability Awareness

written by: Marlene Gundlach • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 2/7/2013

Helping young students learn to become accepting of disabled persons is such an important task. With these tips and activities you can take the first step to building awareness.

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    Objective

    To identify similarities and differences among all people.

    It is important that we teach children that everyone has similarities and differences with everyone around them. There are also qualities that make each person unique. Sometimes we are afraid of what is different. By taking notice of our own characteristics and traits, and those of our peers, we begin to see what makes everyone special.

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    Activities

    Friendship Venn Diagram: Download a copy of the friendship venn diagram. You will be putting the students in pairs, and each pair will need a copy of the venn diagram, Also, give each pair of students a piece of 11x17 white paper. Students will divide the white paper in half and draw a picture of themselves on one half of the paper. Around their picture, each student will write words that describe them. It can be physical characteristics, things that they like/dislike, or special skills and talents. Once their drawings and list are completed, each pair of students will fill out their venn diagram to compare what they have in common and what characteristics make them unique and special. Have each pair share their venn diagram and photo with the class. Discuss that each pair probably had a few things in common, and some things that uniquely belonged to individuals. But no matter what, they are classmates and friends.

    Designate a day as “dress-alike" day. Ask the children to all wear a white shirt or blue jeans. Or have a “hat day" where parents can send in hats or you can make paper hats for the students to wear. Discuss the similarities and differences of these items. For instance, even though everyone may have on a white shirt, each shirt is probably a little different.

    Find some photographs of disabled children at play. Discuss which activities the students in your class like to do and what they do not like to do. List them in a chart on the board. Go through the list by looking at the photos of disabled children and discussing which of the activities listed may be difficult for these disabled children to accomplish and why. Emphasize that that all children are special and there is not one activity that will be a perfect match for everyone.

    Have students make a poster at home with pictures of the doing the activities they enjoy doing the most. The students can share these posters with their classmates and then display them around the classroom. After everyone has shared their posters and they are displayed, have students look around the room at all of the posters and the activities displayed on them. What do they notice? Point out that not everyone has the same favorite activities. Everyone in the classroom is unique in some way and this makes the class a very special blend of individuals. Ask the students if they know what the word “individual" means. Relate being an individual to being unique and special.