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Elmer the Elephant - Accepting Differences

elmer the elephant

Grades: K-2

CASEL Standard: Social awareness:  The abilities to understand the perspectives of and empathize with others, including those from diverse backgrounds, cultures and contexts

Lesson Objective: To identify external and internal traits and recognize how differences make each person unique and special


Part 1: 

  • Today, we are going to be talking about differences.  When we look around the room, we see people who look different.  We might have different color clothes, different hair color, different eye color or be different heights. 
  • The things that we can see on the outside are called external traits.  Let’s make a list of the different external traits of the friends in our class.
  • We made a list of the different external traits.  Did you know that there were traits that you have that we cannot see?  Some of those traits are kindness, being shy, being friendly, and being responsible.  The traits that we cannot see are called internal traits.
  • What are some of your internal traits?  Let’s make a list of some of the internal traits of the friends in our class.
  • When we look at the list of external and internal traits, do you see any that you have?  I am going to give you a worksheet that has a person on it.  You are going to write down the external traits that you have and then you will write down some of the internal traits that you have. 
  • After you finish, we will talk about some traits that are the same and some that are different. 
  • After the discussion:  Being different is what makes all of us unique and special!  It would be really boring if we were all the same.  It is nice to figure out what makes us the same because then we have something in common.  But it is also great to figure out what makes us different and special.

Part 2: 

  • We are going to be reading a book called, Elmer.  This book is by David McKee.
  • Read the book.
  • Elmer looks different from the other elephants and it bothers him at the beginning.  Do you think it is hard to look different?
  • Elmer also has some internal traits that are different from the other elephants.  He is really fun and likes to make the other elephants laugh.  Elmer could hide his external traits, but he couldn’t change his internal traits, even when he looked elephant color.  Elmer learned to love his internal trait.  Sometimes we have internal traits that we cannot hide.  Can you think of an internal trait that you have that you cannot hide?  Do you like having that trait or do you wish you could hide it?
  • It is important to understand that everyone has different traits.  Understanding that everyone has different traits can help us to understand why people behave the way that they do and be empathetic and accepting of everyone.
  • We cannot change who we are and it is important to learn to love our traits, just like Elmer learned to love his!

Part 3: 

  • You are each going to be decorating your own elephant.  I am going to give you a worksheet with an elephant on it and you should decorate it in a way that shows your different external and internal traits. 
  • After you decorate your elephants, we are going to share them and talk about them.
  • After decorating the elephants:  While everyone is sharing their elephants, let’s think about what makes each elephant different and special. 
  • What did you notice about the elephants?  Were there any similarities?  Were there any differences?  Did seeing the elephants help you to better understand your classmates?
  • We are going to hang these elephants up so that we can be reminded that we are all unique and special and to remind us to have empathy and be accepting of everyone.

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Written by Kimberly Greacen, Education World® Contributing Writer

Kimberly is an educator with extensive experience in curriculum writing and developing instructional materials to align with Common Core State Standards and Bloom's Taxonomy.

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