Wellbeing For Children: Identity And Values by ClickView:
The Circles All Around Us, by Brad Montague:
Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez:
Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimardby:
BELONGING–Award-Winning Short Film by Pierre Leong:
A Kids Book About Belonging by Kevin Carroll:
“I Am” Poetry Slam:
The purpose of this lesson is to help students reflect on who they are and where they belong. Students will dive deeper into their individual identity, consider how their identity changes over time, and how they can feel a sense of belonging.
People can feel a sense of pride and self-worth from knowing who they are. Self-image begins early in life as we begin to label ourselves based on family, culture, language, socio-economic status, religion/beliefs, hobbies/interest, and more. Kendra Cherry from Verywell Mind explains, “Identity is shaped by the experiences people have during their lives, particularly during childhood and adolescence. Kids who are raised in a supportive environment receive the care, support, and encouragement that they need in order to develop a healthy sense of self. Children raised in less supportive environments where they encounter neglect, abuse, or over-parenting, on the other hand, may struggle to forge their own strong identities.”
Identities change naturally as we grow and develop. However, when these changes occur rapidly or changes seem to threaten how we see ourselves, children can lose confidence and self-worth, sometimes leading to depression, according to Lauren DiMaria from Verywell Mind.
Identity connects us to the people around us, providing an important sense of belonging. Unfortunately, just because someone is part of the group does not mean that they feel like they belong or “fit in” there. Kendra Cherry explains that, “A sense of belonging involves more than simply being acquainted with other people. It is centered on gaining acceptance, attention, and support from members of the group as well as providing the same attention to other members.” Our desire to belong makes us want to participate in groups or teams because it provides a sense of acceptance and even purpose. “By belonging to a group, we feel as if we are a part of something bigger and more important than ourselves.”
Activity 1: (15 minutes) STICKY NOTE SORT
Pass out one sticky note to each student. Write the question “Who are you?” on the board and ask students to write just one answer to that question (their answer should not be their name but rather a word that describes who they are). Collect the sticky notes and post them on the board. As a class, organize them into similar categories and provide a label for the group (e.g., culture, ethnicity, language, hobby/talent, values, beliefs, etc.).
Watch the video “Wellbeing For Children: Identity And Values,” by ClickView. Have a conversation:
Activity 2: (15 minutes) WHO AM I?
Pass out the Identity and Values handout and have each individual fill out the questions that help them reflect on different aspects of their identity. Clarify any questions that students may have before students start.
Activity 3: (20 minutes) HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED?
Our identity develops and changes over time. To illustrate this for students, the teacher can tell students a story of what they were like as a kid. Think back to early interests, family culture, or motivations. Share changes over time and what has caused that change.
Next, ask students to pair up with a partner. Ask them to share a story of how they have changed since they were little. They could share a story example or just describe what they used to enjoy and be motivated by. Then switch roles and have the other partner share. Return to your seat once you are done.
Explain to students that they will continue to change and that we can learn a lot about ourselves by looking to the past and the future. Their next assignment will be to write a letter to themselves in the future. Each letter should include the following:
As a class, determine what month and year this class will graduate from high school. Students will seal their letters in an envelope and write “Do not open until ______(month)/_____(year)” on the back. Ask students to take the letter home and store it in a safe place until they open it years later.
Have a discussion:
Activity 4: (20 minutes) LESSONS IN LITERATURE
Read through a couple short stories and discuss the questions for each.
Read The Circles All Around Us by Brad Montague. (3:00)
Read Where Are You From? by Yamile Saied Mendez. (3:37)
Read Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimardby. (6:49)
Activity 5: (15 minutes) BELONGING
Watch the video “BELONGING–Award-Winning Short Film,” by Pierre Leong. As students watch, have them pay attention to how the narrator feels (4:26). Have a discussion:
Read the following two quotes:
Read A Kids Book About Belonging by Kevin Carroll (3:38). Have a discussion:
Activity 6: (20–30 minutes) I AM POEM
Pass out the I Am Poem handout. Students will write different things that they think and feel to express parts of their identity in poetry. Encourage students to use specific and unique words. If they need help, encourage them to use an encyclopedia, but only to use words that they already know. If time allows, have some students share their poems in small groups with the whole class.
Extension: Have students turn their poems into a video using some video software (e.g., Adobe Spark or Loom). They can either record their faces or just the audio and text. Allow them to get creative, add images, transitions, background music, etc. They could even use the words to create song lyrics. Here are some examples.