Introduction To Racism For Elementary Students (Lesson Plan)

3rd Grade Racism Lesson Plan

Looking for a racism lesson plan for a language arts unit? Here you will find one of the 5 day unit lesson plans for 3rd grade. It's important to start young for teaching about racism and discrimination in your classrooms. Incorporate a hands on activity as well as a good book to read.

Lesson Day 1 Introduction To Racism

Subject: English
Grade Level: 3
Goals: The students will learn how to write a structured sentence and learn what the concepts of ethnicity, race, racism, and racial profiling.
Materials: As many lemons, apples, or oranges as there are students. Students will need a pencil and paper. The teacher will need a copy of the book Smoky Night by Eve Bunting.
Time Required: 1-1 ½ hours

Introduction: The teacher should gather their group of students and give one lemon to each child. Then ask the children to "get to know your orange." Children will examine their oranges -- smell them, touch them, throw them in the air, and roll them around. Have them write words on a sheet of paper describing the orange. After a few minutes, collect the oranges in a big basket, and ask the children to find their oranges in the pile. Remarkably, most children will recognize their oranges at once. Some will even get protective of them.
Next, ask the children to describe how they recognized their oranges. "My orange was big," one might say. "My orange had a mark on one side." And another, "My orange had dents and bruises." Then talk about how people, too, come in different sizes, different shapes, different shades of color, different "dents and bruises."
After exploring these ideas, collect the oranges again but this time peel the oranges before placing them in the basket. Then ask the children to again find their orange. Presented with this situation, children will usually exclaim, "But the oranges all look the same!" This reaction opens the door to discussing how people, like oranges, are often similar on the inside and how you shouldn't judge a person's looks before you get to know their "insides" (personality). (15 minutes)


The teacher will then ask the children what race and ethnicity mean. Making a chart on the whiteboard or overhead, the teacher should list the characteristics of each (refer to the list provided). The teacher should then introduce racial profiling (the inclusion of racial or ethnic characteristics in determining whether a person is considered likely to commit a particular type of crime or an illegal act or to behave in a "predictable" manner.) Give examples of this such as motor vehicles, suspicion, airline security, etc. in society today. Discussion will lead the children to address the "fairness" part. Ask them questions such as "What if people with brown hair or blue eyes had people watching or following them in a store so they wouldn't steal? What if you had blonde hair and security would pick you out of a crowd to do a check when no one else had to? What if a police man pulled your car over for no reason other than you had green eyes or black hair?" Continue the discussion until the teacher or students can't think of any other scenarios. (15 minutes)

After the first orange activity and discussion, the teacher will explain how to write a structured sentence. Telling them they need to use a subject and predicate. Making sure the students know that the subject is what (or whom) the sentence is about, and the predicate tells something about the subject. The teacher should then read the book Smoky Night by Eve Bunting to the class as a whole. Discuss how violence affects their lives. Put the overhead up of questions: "What kinds of feelings are they experiencing from the story or their own experiences? What can each of us do to create a safer world? How does racism relate to violence? What did the characters in the story do? What does this book show about friendship and people's color of their skin? What was the author's purpose for writing this story? What lesson do you feel you have learned after reading the story?" Have children practice writing sentences answering these questions in their notebook. (45 minutes)

Grab Smoky Night by Eve Bunting 

Smoky Night

Smoky Night

Amazon Price: $7.99 (as of 03/23/2011) Buy Now
Noche De Humo / Smoky Night (Spanish Edition)

Noche De Humo / Smoky Night (Spanish Edition)

Amazon Price: $17.20 (as of 03/23/2011) Buy Now
Smoky Night (Chinese Edition)

Smoky Night (Chinese Edition)

Amazon Price: $19.60 (as of 03/23/2011) Buy Now
Teacher's Guide Smoky Night

Teacher's Guide Smoky Night

Amazon Price: (as of 03/23/2011) Buy Now


Closure: Have the students get a partner and discuss their answers to these questions. As a group, explain that the most important point of this book is how Daniel and his mom learn to not let different cultures and lifestyles limit friendships. (10 minutes)

Assessment/Evaluation: The teacher will evaluate the student's sentences looking for a subject and predicate while using proper grammar. Also the teacher can evaluate participation in the discussion for the orange and book activities.