Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Finding Our Bonds (4th Grade)
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

What is a world citizen's responsibility to promote and advocate for justice and kindness?

NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world.  If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.


Using a simulation and literature book, students will explore discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes. They will explore the importance of respect for diversity and their role in promoting a civil society focused on justice and equality.


One Fifty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • experience a simulation of discrimination.
  • analyze the actions of characters in literature.
  • understand respect for diversity as important to the common good.
  • explore their role in a promoting respect in a civil society.


  • The Other Side by Jacqeline Woodson (See Bibliographical References)
  • One rope or string, that extends from one side of the room to another

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Before students arrive, divide the room in half by arranging the desks in two groups. Make sure that each side is accessible by different pathways.  Attach the rope or string from one side to the other to create a dividing line. As the children arrive, direct them to seats according to the color of their shoes, black, brown or dark colors on one side, white or light colors on the other. Have the words prejudice, discrimination, stereotypes on the chalkboard, and these instructions, “Using the dictionaries and paper in our classroom, write a short definition for each word.” Make sure that the dictionaries are on one side of the dividing line and the paper is on the opposite side of the dividing line. Tell the students they must use the class's materials and not their own.

Teacher will say, “Attention please, from this moment on, no one can cross this dividing line nor are you under any circumstances to speak to anyone on the other side of the dividing line.  Follow the instructions on the board and complete the assignment quickly.”  The groups will soon realize that they cannot complete the task without communicating and soliciting the help of the opposite group. Initiate discussion, by asking; what is the dilemma that you all face?

  • Hold a class discussion to decide on a definition of discrimination, stereotypes and the prejudice.  Ask the students to think about how the simulation might have been an example of these.  Ask the students to express their opinion about the effects of these on a community.  Do they strengthen or weaken the community?
  • Discuss the importance of showing respect for others, and promoting for the justice and equality for all enhances the common good.
  • Read aloud the story, The Other Side. (It is a story of a friendship that develops across a racial barrier.  The narrator is an African-American child who lives beside a fence that separates (segregates) her town.  She is told not to climb over the fence because it isn’t safe. One day she sees a white girl on the other side. Both girls are curious about each other and eventually they both come to the fence and introduce themselves. The girls solve the problem of being told “not to cross” the fence by sitting on top of the fence.)
  • Discuss the book:
    • Which characters demonstrated prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping?
    • Which characters demonstrated respect and acceptance of diversity?
    • What do you think the last page of the book really means for the future?  Who do you think can help “knock this old fence down”?
  • Use the think, pair, share method to have students respond to the question, "What can you do to actively promote respect in our society?" (Students think for a couple minutes, pair up with another student to discuss, and then volunteer to share with the whole class.)

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Review the definition of philanthropy and talk about the responsibility and benefits of citizens acting for the common good.  Ask students to write a paragraph defending the statement that “one person can make a difference.”  What does it mean and what evidence is there that it is true?

Bibliographical References:

  • Woodson, Jacqueline.  The Other Side.  New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001.  ISBN: 0-399-23116-1.

Lesson Developed By:

Greta Hendricks Johnson
Detroit Public Schools
Van Zile Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48234


Philanthropy Framework:


B., LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ5/31/2007 11:40:01 AM

This was a great social studies lesson where the students were able to relate to daily issues and how you solve discrimination, prejudice, caring and tolerance (problems).

Timothy, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ6/1/2007 11:42:42 AM

(The positive aspect of using this lesson was) the students gained a better understanding of the concepts of respect and diversity

Nuno, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ6/1/2007 11:44:46 AM

(The positive aspects of using this lesson was) students learn core values and respect for each other regardless of race.

W., LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ6/3/2007 9:29:40 AM

The positive aspects of the lesson was that children gained knowledge of Dr. King's life from lessons taught on Dr. King's great contributions to society

Marla, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ2/19/2009 3:15:32 PM

Students get a hands on experience of discrimination. They get a chance to get a feeling for what discrimination does and how it makes people feel.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Finding Our Bonds (4th Grade) Summary


Finding Our Bonds (4th Grade)

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