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

First Impressions
Lesson 3
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The purpose of this lesson is for learners to evaluate how they create impressions of people and to relate that to treating people respectfully or disrespectfully. 


One 20-minute lesson


The learner will:

  • develop a list of criteria used in forming first impressions and determine if these criteria promote respect or disrespect.
  • consider examples of disrespect.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills.  For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to www.generationon.org.

Instructional Procedure(s):

 Anticipatory Set:

Ask the learners to imagine they are in a social situation and a person they have never met walks up to them and starts a conversation. Have them think about how they will decide if this is someone they want to talk to and get to know, or if it is not someone they want to talk to or get to know. What criteria would they use to make this decision?

  • Ask the learners to form small groups of 2 -3 people and discuss how they form first impressions of strangers they meet (i.e., gender, age, weight, race, apparent affluence, speech patterns or accent, clothing, attractiveness, etc.). Tell each group to write down their top five criteria used for making a judgment.
  • After the discussion, have the groups share their lists with the class. Develop a class list of the judging criteria and highlight the three criteria that seem to be the most commonly used to form a first impression or to quickly judge the value of a person.
  • Lead the discussion to consider how we might discriminate against or exclude people by labeling, pre-judging, stereotyping, etc. Ask for or point out examples of contemporary discrimination [action or treatment based on prejudice, or a preconceived opinion]. Ask if any of them has been discriminated against, or observed discrimination, because of any of the criteria they sited.
  • As a class, look again at the list of criteria for judging people and determine if any of the cirteria they noted could lead to disrespect by exclusion or discrimination. In the next lesson, they will explore ways to demonstrate respect for differences.

Lesson Developed By:

Betsy Flikkema
Associate Director
Learning to Give

Barbara Dillbeck
Learning to Give


Philanthropy Framework:

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