The purpose of this lesson is to emphasize to students that there are many types of people in the world, and we must be tolerant of everyone’s uniqueness.
Three-four forty minute periods
The learner will:
- relate to tolerance within a Biblical context
- define tolerance
- define discrimination
- apply the lesson of The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss to present day situations
- speak out against discrimination in a letter to Congress
Students will write letters to their Congressmen to encourage them to speak out against discrimination, hate, racism, and anti-Semitism.
Ask students to explain what makes people different from one another. Is it the way they look? The way they act? The things they like to do? The things they own? Give half the class star stickers and instruct them to put them on their foreheads. Ask if that star is enough to make them different. Ask if the students who have stars are happy and if the students who do not have stars are unhappy. Make sure they explain their opinions. Tell students that they are going to learn about treating people who are different from them with tolerance. Give stars to the rest of the class.
- Read the text from Leviticus 19:33-34. Ask students to describe people who would be considered strangers (i.e. people they don’t know, people that look different, people who don’t belong to their group). Ask students to explain why we must treat all with love and kindness. Make sure they state the explanation given in the text (that the Jews were slaves in Egypt) but guide students to think beyond that as well.
- Guide students to relate the idea that we should treat strangers kindly because we were once slaves to the concept of "Love thy neighbor as you love yourself" from Lesson One. Guide them to understand that we were not happy being strangers in a strange land so we should not be unfriendly to strangers in our land.
- Read The Sneetches, by Dr. Seuss. Ask students to explain why the Star-bellied Sneetches disliked the Plain-bellied Sneetches. Guide them to realize that their hatred was based simply on the way they looked and a desire to be superior. Ask students to explain in their own words what the Sneetches learned from their experience with Sylvester McMonkey McBean.
- Tell students that you wonder something about the book and you hope the class can help you. Explain that you would like to know how things changed on the beaches after Sylvester McMonkey McBean left. Ask them to think of a scenario that could not have happened BEFORE McBean came, but may have happened AFTER McBean came. If they can’t, offer your own example: BEFORE McBean, Star-bellied Sneetches would have sat separately from Plain-bellied Sneetches on the school bus but AFTER they would have sat together. Allow a few volunteers to offer examples.
- Ask students to work with 3-4 other students to plan a new before/after scenario to role-play before the class. Each part should take no more than one minute to perform, and the performance should have a sign to explain the before and a sign to explain the after. (For example, the before sign would say: "Before McBean, Star-bellies only sat with Star-bellies on the school bus." The after sign would say: "After McBean, Star bellies and Plain-bellies sat together.")
- Give students a chance to plan their role-play. Distribute Attachment Two to each group to use as a guide.
- Perform the role-plays.
- Explain to students that BEFORE McBean, there was discrimination on the beaches and AFTER McBean there was tolerance on the beaches. Define discrimination as "the restrictive treatment of a person or group based on prejudiced
assumptions of group characteristics, rather than on individual judgment. It is the denial of justice prompted by prejudice." Define tolerance as. "Act of recognizing or respecting the beliefs or practices of others."
- Ask students to think of real-life situations where people have been discriminated against based on their religion, race, ethnicity, gender, etc. For each situation, ask the class to identify the Star-bellied Sneetches and the Plain-bellied Sneetches and ask what would be different if McBean came to teach them tolerance. Possible situations to discuss are: African Americans’ treatment during slavery, Native Americans’ treatment on the Trail of Tears, Jews’ treatment in Nazi Germany, Women’s treatment before equal rights, Muslim’s treatment after 9/11, etc. For more information, use the reference to Online Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Tell students that it is very important to have tolerance in society. Explain that it is important to push the government to make laws that are fair to everyone. Have the class write letters to local Congressmen explaining why it is so important to have laws that fight discrimination and encourage tolerance. For more information on laws and your local Congressmen, use references to Time For Kids Research Tools, Thomas: Legislative Information on the Internet, and the Anti-Defamation League.
Students will be assessed based on the ideas that they represent in their role plays and the understanding of tolerance and discrimination that they demonstrate in their letters to Congress. In addition, assess students based on teacher observations of participation during discussions.
Students should share all information that they learned about the importance of tolerance and fighting discrimination with their families. They should discuss the letter that they wrote to their local Congressmen with their family members to help them decide who to support in future elections.
Invite representatives from a wide range of organizations so students can learn more about people who are different from them.
Lesson Developed By:Shira Hammerman
Name: __________________ Date: _______________
"And if a stranger lives with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger that lives with you shall be to you as the home-born among you, and thou shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am HaShem your G-d."
Questions to Think About:
Who are considered to be strangers?
Why is it important to treat strangers with love and kindness?
Name: __________________ Date: _______________
Write the scenario here:
Plan two role-plays (no longer than 1 minute each!) to perform before the class.
One will show the BEFORE and one will show the AFTER.
Make two signs, one to explain what is going on in the BEFORE and one to explain what is going on in the AFTER. Your signs can say exactly what you wrote above for #2.
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