Everyone Is Special

K, 1, 2
To expose students to literature which reinforces the concept of tolerance toward people who are different. (The focus is on special-needs persons.) This lesson will also relate tolerance to becoming a responsible citizen.
PrintOne Thirty-Minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • identify letters in the story.
  • discuss the special equipment needed by persons with special needs.
  • note how the students are alike and different.
  • show how tolerance builds responsible citizenship.
  • A Very Special Critter by Gina and Mercer Mayer (see Bibliographical References)
  • Alphabet cards for letter recognition

Mayer, Gina and Mercer. A Very Special Critter. Racine, Wisconsin: Western Publishing Company, Inc., 1992. ISBN: 030712763X.


  1. Read the book to the class. Discuss the artwork and note the details on each page.
  2. On selected pages, have the children locate letters of the alphabet using the alphabet cards as models.
  3. Discuss how the children interacted with the new student. How were the students alike and different? Would the interaction have been different if the child were not physically challenged?
  4. Discuss the special equipment that the new student needed to function.
  5. Define the term tolerance. Discuss how tolerance of others is an important trait of a responsible citizen. Brainstorm ways that people can be different. Discuss how differences make the world a more interesting place. Sometimes people can be uncomfortable with things that are new or different. Tolerance may include teaching yourself to be comfortable with things that are new and different and learning to see differences in a positive way. Ask students to identify places in the story where students showed tolerance. What would the world be like without tolerance?
  6. Set up several role-plays in which students explore how to welcome a student with a disability into the class. Explore what is appropriate and inappropriate language and behavior. Discuss times when it is appropriate to act philanthropically or for the common good without the teacher's special permission.
Children will identify letters of the alphabet. Observe how students recall details from the story. Observe how students discuss the meaning of tolerance and identify the parts of the story where tolerance was displayed.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.7 Give classroom examples of when a student does not need the teacher's permission to act philanthropically.