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Spread Smiles, Not Germs! Easy Ways to Teach Fairness in the Classroom

February 4, 2021 by Heather Wagoner




“That’s not fair!” 

“How come she gets that and I don’t?” 

“Why doesn’t he have to do it?”

“You’re not being fair!”

easy ways to teach fairness title graphic

How many times have you heard those words before? I am positive that while reading them your first thought was, “LIFE’S NOT FAIR!” Well, you’re right. For many reasons, a lot of which are out of our control, life isn’t fair. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t teach the importance of being fair to our students. So how do we teach students about fairness in the classroom and the importance of including all? It can be a difficult topic to grasp, but the team at ETTC has pulled together a few EASY ways to teach fairness and inclusivity in the classroom. Be sure to check out the book recommendations, #3 and #10 are my personal FAVORITES.

 

“If one has courage, nothing can dim the light that shines from within”~ Maya Angelou

 

Incorporate Read Alouds on Fairness

There are many children’s books that intentionally have “fairness” or “inclusion” as their central focus. I use them as discussion starters for what fairness really means and why including others is so important. Here are just a few of my favorites…

 

 

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman

Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts

The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig

Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens

We Shall Overcome by Debbie Levy

Enemy Pie by Derek Munson

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson

How Full is Your Bucket? by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer

Dazzling Travis by Hannah Carmona

The World Needs More Purple People by Kristin Bell and Benjamin Hart

Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev and Taeeun Yoo

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña  

This is How We Do it by Matt Lamothe

Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun by Maria Dismondy

 

Throw in a Couple of Activities (like confetti) 

Kids love when we incorporate activities into our lessons. Below are just a few that you could use to help teach the concepts of “fairness” and “including everyone.” 

Band-Aid LessonTell each child to pretend they have a “boo-boo” somewhere on their bodies. Let them share where their make-believe injuries are located. Then, give each child a band-aid, IN THE SAME SPOT. This opens up a huge discussion about how everyone needed a band-aid, but not in the same place. You can discuss how it is important to think about others’ needs, not just our own. 

“Fairness isn’t about getting the same thing, it’s about getting what you need to be successful”~ Unknown

 

Skittle Scatter- Hand each of your students a small bag of Skittles. They are to open and sort them by color. (As a math activity, they can graph the results and identify the group with the most and the least.) After being sorted, each child will get into a small group and answer a question based on the color they have that contains the most skittles. Create a reference picture like the one shown to guide their discussions.

play a game to help your students discuss ways to show fairness

 

Class Book- I love any activity that turns the students into authors and illustrators. Give each student an 8in by 8in piece of paper (or whatever size you want your book to be). Take slips of paper and write the students’ names on them. Have each student randomly choose one of the names. On their book page, they should think of a way that person is special. Some ideas might be, a talent they have, an outfit they wear that is unique, or something they have said/done that showed them being fair. They write the person’s name, the thing that makes them special, and then illustrate. Once everyone is finished, bind or staple the book pages together (laminate before binding/stapling if you want it to hold up better). Read the book to the class, sharing all of the ways each person is special.

 

Create a Class Bulletin Board on Fairness

As a class, create a bulletin board all about FAIRNESS.  Every school day, you add another “way to be fair” or “way to include everyone” and watch as your board grows.  Here are some ideas you could use for the board…

Including Everyone– Let the students create pictures of themselves and share cut out hearts of ways to include friends, new students, or kids they don’t know in everyday activities. Add new hearts each day with different ideas.

Books are a great way to teach your students about fairness

Display Your Read Alouds– Print out the cover of the read-aloud. Let students illustrate how the book discusses being fair and including everyone. Attach the illustrations to the bulletin board.

Game Board– Turn your bulletin board into a big game board (think Candyland). Create a class game piece and attach it to the board using tacks, staples, magnets, anything that makes it easy to move. On each place on the board, add a “way to be fair” or a “way to include everyone” and as the kids complete the activities, move the class game piece across the game board. Once they reach the end, there can be a small class reward like extra recess, a socially distanced GoNoodle dance-off, or anything similar to celebrate their accomplishments as a group

“We are all different and that’s BEAUTIFUL!”~ Karen Salmonsohn

Encourage your students to intentionally be fair and include others this month.  As the quote above states, we are all different. So, let’s embrace our differences, teach our students to be fair, and encourage them to include others!  Click here for our FREE Fairness Challenge Calendar you can send home with your students to set them off on the right path.

If you have any easy ways to teach fairness in the classroom, please share them in the comments below. Together, we can continue on this journey of fairness and equity in the classroom, supporting each other with books, activities, and discussions to use with our students.

Written by: Heather Wagoner

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