ELA Diversity Activities in the Classroom
The Embracing Our Differences Kit includes texts and corresponding activities to promote diversity in the classroom. With the resources in our free kit, K–8 students will learn about inclusion, discrimination, overcoming obstacles, and friendship!
- Ruby Bridges Reading Strategy Lesson
- Inclusion Awareness Unit
- The Name Jar Interactive Read Aloud
- The Keeping Quilt Activity
- The Keeping Quilt Interactive Read Aloud
#1 Ruby Bridges Reading Strategy Lesson
The first resource I have that promotes diversity in the classroom is a 4-day lesson plan where students will compare and contrast firsthand and secondhand accounts of Ruby Bridges’ experiences as the first African American to attend what was once an all-white school.
Over the course of four days students analyze multiple texts using the format: “I do” (the teacher provides explicit instruction and/or modeling), “We do” (the teacher and the students practice together), and “You do” (the students independently practice the skill). Download the Embracing Our Differences Kit to discover how to use each text with students, details on corresponding text activities, tips for small group and independent work on comparing and contrasting, and discussion prompts.
#2 Disability Inclusion Unit
This Disability Inclusion Unit is all about acceptance, overcoming obstacles, and friendship. It is important for classrooms to be an environment where students can openly speak and learn about what it means to be “differently-abled”. If a student doesn’t understand why a person may act, move, look, or learn differently, it can lead to mockery, pity, avoidance, and bullying.
This unit uses multiple texts to learn about the variety, complexities, and stereotypes of disabilities. Each text has a corresponding reading or writing activity that will help students gain a deeper understanding of inclusion!
Even if the beginning of the school year has come and gone, this unit can be used at any time to teach students about diversity and inclusion. In fact, sometimes it has the most impact halfway through the school year when students are trying to navigate the complexities of classroom relationships and are more aware of students that are differently abled.
#3 The Name Jar Interactive Read Aloud
Interactive read alouds are an important component of a balanced literacy classroom. Research proves the value of reading aloud to students of all ages, and that students benefit from being read aloud to several times throughout a week. This printable read aloud featured in the Embracing Our Differences Kit uses the book The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi.
Unhei has just moved to America from Korea. She is embarrassed to tell her new classmates her name, so she tells them she will pick a name by the end of the week. The kids in her class try to help her out by filling a glass jar with names. On the day she is about to reveal her name, the jar disappears, and encouraged by her new friends, Unhei decides to keep her Korean name. This Interactive Read Aloud is the perfect activity to segue into lessons and discussions that promote diversity and celebrate our differences!
#4 The Keeping Quilt Activity
This activity is designed to be used with K–5 students as a way to foster community and discuss cultural traditions and differences. After you use the Interactive Read Aloud Lesson to read The Keeping Quilt as a class (see #5 resource), have students complete one of the activities below using the stationary template.
Class The Keeping Quilt Option 1: Using the stationary template, have students draw a picture of a special clothing item that they would include on a quilt and explain why they selected that article of clothing. Encourage students to choose a special clothing item that represents something important about their family, culture, or ethnicity.
Class The Keeping Quilt Option 2: Using the stationary template, have your students write an acrostic poem using the letters in their name. Encourage them to try to use words that not only represent themselves, but would also foster a classroom community where differences are embraced!
Once your students have completed their The Keeping Quilt Activity, showcase their work for all to admire!
In-Person Classroom: Use a hole punch to punch out a circle in each corner of the stationary template. Then tie the papers together with yarn to make a classroom quilt. Hang the quilt on a wall to emphasize community and togetherness.
Virtual Classroom: Have students email or upload a picture of their completed stationary. Use a design website like Canva to turn the images into a classroom collage or digital quilt! The digital collage can be used as a desktop image, background image for presentation slides, in newsletters, etc.
#5 The Keeping Quilt Interactive Read Aloud
Interactive read alouds are an important component of a balanced literacy classroom. Research proves the value of reading aloud to students of all ages, and that students benefit from being read aloud to several times throughout a week. This printable read aloud featured in the Embracing Our Differences Kit uses the book The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.
This is the story of a very special quilt that was created with fabrics from members of author Patricia Polacco’s extended family. The quilt has been passed down from generation to generation (including to Polacco’s own daughter) and is used at family events, such as weddings and birthday celebrations. The quilt is a symbol of family love and togetherness. This Interactive Read Aloud is the perfect activity to segue into lessons and discussions that promote diversity in the classroom and celebrate the family/cultural traditions of each student.