Promoting diversity and inclusion within the classroom environment is essential to turn kids into compassionate individuals who are happy to have diversity around them and know how to include others without being judgmental or partial.
If you are wondering how you can step up your game in creating a more inclusive classroom environment, you’re at the right place. Activities are a great way to get kids involved and enrich them with knowledge.
Through this write-up, we want to share fun, interesting classroom activities you can do with your students and help them learn to appreciate the power of diversity and inclusion. So, here it goes.
Fun activities for your inclusive classroom
1. Make a Diversity Tree
A tree has several branches and many leaves. They are all connected to each other, and every single leaf is essential for the tree to grow and survive. Use this idea to conduct this activity in the class.
- Begin by making a large tree on a poster-size sheet.
- Draw several branches and leaves on the tree. There must be enough leaves to represent all students in the class.
- Now, let your student grab a pen and use a leaf to write down how they are different from their peers.
When they’re all done, explain to your students how they are similar to tree leaves. They may be having individual existence, but they are all responsible for keeping the tree growing. Removing leaves from the tree will only make it weaker. Therefore, kids must understand that every child in the class is equally valuable and important despite their differences. You can even choose to display the Diversity Tree on a classroom wall to remind kids of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
2. Talk About Your Differences
A classroom is filled with children from different cultural backgrounds and abilities. School-aged kids think it is more important to have commonalities to blend in. To break this chain of thought, conduct a session wherein students must share information about their cultural backgrounds and traditions through oral or video presentations. It will help students understand how culturally diverse their classroom is and it is in fact rewarding to interact with everyone as you can learn a lot from them.
You can also use this opportunity to encourage students with physical or learning disabilities to share their strengths and challenges with their peers and how they try to overcome them every single day of their lives. Listening to their side of the story will help other kids understand their struggles and motivate them to be nice and kind toward them.
3. Book Read Aloud
Children love reading books, especially read-aloud sessions when all students engage with the same book. Utilizing thought-provoking books about inclusion and mutual respect can build a classroom environment that believes in and practices inclusivity.
- For this activity, pick a few relevant books from your school’s library and keep them in your class.
- Every Monday (or any other day you prefer) ask a student to read a book aloud to the entire class.
- When the student finishes reading the book, have a discussion on what students learn about inclusion from the story.
- In the end, they can write down their learnings and a short summary of the story to reflect on their thoughts.
Some of our favorite books on diversity and inclusion are –
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
- Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
- The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates and Juniper Bates
- It’s OK To Be Different by Todd Parr
- We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Jane Kates
4. Celebrate Cultural Holidays and Traditions
Another way to create a sense of belonging in the minds of your students is to celebrate their cultural holidays and traditions. Make a list of holidays depending on the cultural backgrounds of your students and celebrate them in class. It doesn’t have to be too elaborate.
Here’s what you can ask the students to do –
Let students research and write a note on the relevance of the festival, why, and how it is celebrated. They can bring it in on the day of the celebration and share the information with others.
If there’s a student who belongs to the culture in the discussion, you can request their parents to provide a special treat for the class to celebrate the day. Most parents would be glad to entertain this request.
Make a relevant holiday craft or read a book related to the festival or culture so kids can learn about it while having a good time.
5. “We are One” Craft Activity
Here is a simple craft activity to build a feeling of oneness in children. All you need is a few supplies to send across a strong message, which is, “We may be different, but we are one.” Let’s see how you can go about it –
- Find a gender-neutral body outline vector on the Internet and print multiple copies.
- Hand over one copy to each student and let them cut it out.
- Using a variety of craft decorations, students can now decorate the cut-out to make it look like themselves.
- When students are done, collect all the lovely decorated cut-outs and glue their hands together to form a streamer and call it “We are One.”
- Students can also write their names to make it more personalized.
- Now find a bright spot in your classroom to display the streamer kids just made.
6. Use Cultural Greetings
Another sweet way to promote inclusion in the classroom is to give students a chance to learn about diverse cultural greetings. You may be having students of different cultures in your classroom.
- Make a list of students and the cultures they belong to.
- Now assign students different cultures so they can find how people of that respective culture greet one another.
- For a week, students must greet others with “hello” and “goodbye” in the way it is done in the respective student’s culture.
This activity allows students to learn a very important lesson on communication and ensures every student feels they are a part of the classroom community.
7. Fill a Bucket
The main idea of this activity is to let students know that by being kind to others and making them happy, one can raise their own levels of happiness.
- Start this activity by reading the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” by Carol McCloud.
- Discuss why it is important to be a bucket filler and not a bucket dipper. A bucket filler always takes care of other people’s feelings and does things to fill their happiness bucket. Sharing a gentle smile or doing a kind act makes you a bucket filler. Being rude to someone, making fun of others, or excluding them from the group makes you a bucket dipper.
- After the discussion, give your students a week to fill other people’s buckets and make a note of what they did to fill their buckets.
- At the end of the week, students can share what they did as bucket fillers.
Conclude by saying that bucket fillers are an asset to the world because they make people feel included, respected, and loved.
8. Poster Making on “Inclusion”
Explain to kids what inclusion means and how they can all contribute to making an inclusive classroom. After a couple of sessions and activities on inclusion, you can arrange this activity to understand how well students have understood its meaning and importance.
- Inform your students a couple of days in advance about the scheduled poster-making activity.
- Students must make a poster on inclusion.
- They can brainstorm ideas and use their creativity to express their understanding of the topic.
- You can display their posters in the school corridor for other school students to see and appreciate the meaning of inclusion.
- You can even offer a reward to the student who made the best poster in class.
The worst feeling a child can go through is the feeling of being excluded. Creating an environment where no child goes through this feeling is the responsibility of teachers. Schools today are filled with a diverse population, and it is more important than ever to teach kids to embrace this diversity and enjoy the joy of learning in an inclusive classroom. If you are a teacher, the above activities can help you build an inclusive classroom that is safe and welcoming. Kids who learn to accept differences and include others are precious, and we must do our best to inculcate these character traits in all children around the world.