First Impressions

6, 7, 8

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. 

Lesson Rating 
One 20-minute lesson

The learner will:

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


  1. 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 wantto 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?

  2. Ask the learners to form small groups of 2 -3 people anddiscuss 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Lead the discussion to consider how we might discriminate againstor 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 preconceivedopinion].Ask if any of them has been discriminated against, or observed discrimination,because ofany of the criteria theysited.

  5. As a class, look again at the list of criteria for judging people and determine if any of the cirteria they notedcould lead to disrespect by exclusion or discrimination. In the next lesson, they will explore ways todemonstrate respect for differences.

Cross Curriculum 

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

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Give an example of how philanthropy can transcend cultures.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify and give examples of stewardship in cultural traditions around the world.

Academic Standards

Select categories to search for standards.

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