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

Words Can Hurt (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.


This lesson investigates and analyzes stereotyping in society and asks the learners to brainstorm ways that they can help diminish stereotyping in schools and communities.


One 50 minute class periods


  • Define the term stereotype.
  • Analyze the effects of stereotyping on society.
  • Reflect on the meaning of a selected quotation.
  • Write a paragraph explaining how to deminish stereotypes.

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.

 Students make a plan to promote kind and fair treatment of others in the classroom and school community. 


  • Display board or chart paper
Handout 1
Speak Up - Homework Assignment (Optional)

Teacher Preparation:

Be sensitive to the students ethnic backgrounds as you share the stereotypes.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
As the learners enter the room have the phrase Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me. Ask a student to read the phrase to the class. Tell them to think about what they think it means and that they will be asked to share their thoughts at the end of the lesson.

Create a T-chart  on the board with the headings: Things Boys Can Do Better and Things Girls Can Do Better.  Ask the learners to share their ideas and list them under each category.  After a list of ten or twelve things have been created for each category, go over each list and ask: Can this only be done best by boys? If the learners determine that a particular item is unique  to boys, circle it.  Do the same with the list made about girls. The goal is to have no items circled as being specific to boys or girls.

  • If there are items that are circled, ask the learners to share why they think that activity can only be done by only boys or girls.  Guide them to the idea that the activity probably could be done by either.
  • Tell them that when people think that all members of a group of people do a certain thing it considered Stereotyping. Write the word Stereotyping on the board and share the definition: Stereotype: A very simple, often mistaken generalization about a group of people. Stereotypes may be positive or negative but all are unfair and misleading.
  • Share the following phrases with the learners. After each phrase is read, ask the learners to raise their hand if they think the phrase sounds like a stereotype and why.  (all of the phrases are stereotypes)
    • People from southern United States like fried chicken.
    • He throws like a girl.
    • All people from Asia are smart and  good in math and science.
    • People who come to the U.S. from foreign countries and don't learn English are lazy.
    • People who have dark hair, dark beards and dark eyebrows are criminals.
    • All baby boys wear blue.
    • Boys that cry are "sissies"
  • Engage the learners in a discussion about how these phrases are misleading and/or unfair.
  • Ask the learners to share some things that they know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Remind them that Dr. King believed that all people should be "judged by the content of their character."   He believed that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their potential.
  • Ask the students to share what effects stereotyping can have on the school, the community and the global community.
  • Have the learners suggest ways that we can avoid or eliminate stereotypes.  (Set a good example by not stereotyping people., If someone tells a racist joke don't laugh, say, "Please don't tell those kinds of jokes. They make me feel uncomfortable."  Think before you make comments about groups of people. Teacher Note: Other suggestions may be found at http://www.yesmagazine.org/article.asp?ID=3008.
  • Read the quote Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me again and ask the learners if they believe it to be true or false. Ask them to share their reason for their answers.
  • Conclude this lesson by asking the students to think about ways that they can further Dr. King's message of fairness, justice, kindness and caring for others.
  • Optional Homework: Give the learners Attachment One: Speak Up and ask them to complete it with a family member. Allow time on another day to have students share their responses to the scenario.


Learner participation and completion of the homework will serve as the assessment for this lesson.

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

School/Home Connection:

Optional: Give the learners Attachment One: Speak Up and have them complete it with a family member.  Ask them to return it the next class period allowing time for volunteers to share their paragraphs.

Reflection: (click to view)

Bibliographical References:

Lesson Developed By:

Clare Friend
Curriculum Consultant
Learning to Give

Barbara Dillbeck
Learning to Give


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Speak Up - Homework Assignment (Optional)

Name: _________________________

Date: __________________________

A very simple, often mistaken generalization about a group of people. Stereotypes may be positive or negative but all are unfair and misleading.
Advocate - One who stands up for something that one believes in.

Share with your family members what you learned about stereotyping. Together write a short paragraph in response to the following scenario.

You and a friend are having a conversation about sports. Your friend make either of the following comments:  "He throws like a girl." or "She can't play football, she's a girl." Choose one and write a paragraph describing: What you would do ?  How would you let your friend know that it isn't fair to put people into groups just because they  are a boy or a girl.









Philanthropy Framework:


Ruth, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ2/19/2009 10:16:45 AM

The lesson was setup well so that there was an opportunity to have a dialogue with the students about their thoughts.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Words Can Hurt (4th Grade) Summary


Words Can Hurt (4th Grade)

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