I Belong, But Why Don't You?

6, 7, 8

Learners will analyze the dynamics of group formation and membership and give examples of groups, in their own lives and in history, which have been denied rights. They will describe how inclusion and exclusion from groups causes conflicts, and determine ways of overcoming differences among groups.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • identify and describe inclusive and exclusive membership requirements of various groups.
  • define and correctly use vocabulary related to inclusion and exclusion.
  • describe a historical example of exclusion.
  • demonstrate similarities and differences among groups through the use of a Venn diagram.
  • write a letter demonstrating another person’s point of view regarding membership in a group.
  • use inclusionary techniques to communicate acceptance to someone outside the group.
  • Team pennants for local and opposing teams in the area, ads for various popular products, national flags, CD music labels of different styles of music, and/or religious symbols.
  • Five sticky paper yellow Stars of David and two sticky paper pink triangles.
  • Bridging the "Us vs. Them" Gap (Handout One)
  • Shapes cut in different colored sticky paper such as large and small circles in blue, red and green, large and small triangles in blue, red and green, large and small stars in blue, red and green (one for each learner)
  • Groups To Which We Belong (Handout Two)
Home Connection 

Learners write and carry out a resolution to perform an act of kindness, caring, benevolence, or inclusion for a member of the community.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Ask the question, "Besides being learners at this school, is there any group or organization to which you all belong?" (In most cases, there will not be any other that all the learners will share in common.)

  2. Pin up team pennants from the hometown team on one side of the room and an arch rival team on the other side of the room. Have learners stand under the group to which they belong/support. Do the same for professional teams of the area, nearby college logos, national flags, CD music styles, Pepsi or Coke ads, clothing labels, makes of cars, etc. Have the learners keep a list of "teams" to which they belong. Discuss that these "teams" are preferences that may change easily and often.

  3. After an appropriate amount of movement, have the learners begin a new list which records other teams/groups to which they belong (Scouts, baseball team, gymnastics, dance group, faith group, neighborhood). Discuss that these affiliations more closely reflect each learner’s personal life style and habits than the previous "teams" listed in the first activity. 

    Being part of a team or group is one way we make friends with shared interests. It is good to belong, but it isn't okay to exclude. What are some reasons someone might not join a group? What are some ways people in a group can include others? 

  4. Tell the students to over the next week, reach out to someone who isn’t part of one of their familiar groups, and using kindness, get to know them and then share of themselves. "What resulted after you did so?"

  5. Ask for suggestions on ways to avoid labeling, excluding, judging, and hurting others by the "us vs. them" tendency we all use to understand who we are and how we relate to others. Have one or two learners keep a record of ideas on the board or on paper.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Discuss examples of groups denied their rights in history.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.9 Identify pro-social behavior in different cultures and traditions.