BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Inclusion: Building Connections within My Classroom and School Community

Grade K-3


Inclusion: Building Connections within My Classroom and School Community

Big Idea

Rights, roles, and responsibilities shape our identity and help us build healthy relationships with others.

Essential Question

How do we ensure everyone has been included and represented?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • Rights, roles, and responsibilities of individuals and groups

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Recognize causes and consequences of events, decisions, or developments in their lives (cause and consequence)

Core Competencies

I can connect and engage with others.

I can solve problems using kindness and empathy.

I can identify how my actions affect others.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning ultimately supports the well-being of the self, the family, the community, the land, the spirits, and the ancestors.
  • The direct instruction of equity, inclusion and diversity is a cornerstone of a solid foundation in the development of social and emotional learning. All children can begin to learn about and understand kindness, empathy, respect and belonging so everyone can feel they are part of their community.
  • The practise, of using our “Head, Heart and Feet” will be interwoven throughout our lessons with an emphasis on how students are feeling and teaching them to express themselves with the emotion words. 
    • Head: What do I Know and Wonder?
    • Heart: How Do I Feel About This?
    • Feet: What Action Steps Will I Take?
  • This pre-assessment can be completed over two days as it may be too long for the children to sit through two brainstorming sessions.  The children will complete the first (Head: What do I Know and Wonder?) and second (Heart:  How Do I Feel About This?) charts in the pre-assessment.  They will complete the last chart (Feet: What Action Steps Will I Take?) in the post-assessment.
  • Show the children three separate charts of a head, a heart, and feet.  Explain that they will be thinking about what they know (the thoughts in their brain) and how they feel (the feelings in their heart) to include all of their classmates during Centre Time and outdoor play.  They will complete the last chart at the end of the unit.
  • Engage the children in each of the following discussions and record their ideas to create two anchor charts:

     Head - What do I know?

  • How do I include others in my playtime? 
  • What do my classmates do to make me feel included? 

     Heart - How does this make me feel?  

  • How do I feel when I play with my friends?
  • How do I feel when I am not included during play?  
  • How do my friends feel when I exclude them?

Part One: What does it mean to be Kind?

 Literature Selection:  Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller


Resources and Preparation:



  • Read aloud Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller until the sentence “What does it mean to be kind anyway?”
  • Brainstorm with the children: “What does it mean to be kind?”


Key Questions:

  • What are some of the things you can do (actions) to show kindness?
  • What are some of the words you can say to show kindness?
  • How have your family members shown kindness to you?
  • How do you feel when you are being kind to others?  Use the feelings words to explain how you feel.
  • What is the difference between showing others kindness, and using words to express kindness?  How do you think people want kindness to be shown to them - with words or actions?


  • Record the brainstormed ideas in two columns “Kind Actions” and “Kind Words” to create an anchor chart.
  • Finish reading Be Kind.
  • Review the anchor chart, then add any other ideas from the story in the correct columns.


Student Response and Reflection: “What Does it Mean to be Kind?”

  • Provide each child with a copy of the handout “What Does it Mean to be Kind?”
  • Have children draw a picture of themselves doing a kind action on one half of the page and print kind words in speech bubbles on the other half of the page.



  • Ask children to share their pictures and read aloud their written responses.


Part Two: What Does it Mean to Have Empathy?

 Literature Selection:  A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip C. Stead


Resources and Preparation:

  • toy elephant, tortoise, penguin, rhinoceros, owl or pictures of the animals
  • chart paper and markers
  • class set of “What Does it Mean to Have Empathy?” handout
  • pencils and crayons



  • Place the five animals in the middle of a sharing circle.
  • Have children identify each of the animals.
    • What do they know about each of the animals?  What are some of the animal’s characteristics?
    • Where might we find all of these animals together?
  • Read aloud A Sick Day for Amos McGee.


Key Questions:

  • How did Amos McGee look after each of the animals in a different way?
  • Why did Amos not play chess with each animal?  Why did Amos not run a race with each animal?
  • How do we know the animals care about Amos, in the same way that Amos cared about them?
    • Amos showed empathy, or understanding the feelings of others, even when he might not have felt the same way himself.
    • Each animal has individual feelings and needs, just like we do, and Amos tried to care for each one personally.
    • When Amos got sick, the animals showed empathy for Amos through their actions.
  • Create a comparison chart to compare how Amos showed empathy for each animal, and how the animals showed empathy for Amos when he was sick


Amos looks after the animals.

The animals look after Amos who is sick.

Amos plays chess patiently with the elephant.

The elephant plays chess patiently with Amos.

Amos ran races with the tortoise.

The tortoise plays hide and seek with Amos.

Amos sat quietly with the shy penguin.

The penguin sat quietly and warmed Amos’ feet.

Amos wipes rhinoceros’ runny nose.

The rhinoceros wipes Amos’ runny nose.

Amos reads the owl a bedtime story.

The owl reads Amos a bedtime story.


  • The animals and Amos showed empathy in how they cared for each other. What are some of the ways people can show caring and kindness?


Student Response and Reflection: “What Does it Mean to Have Empathy”

  • While seated in their Sharing Circle, have children share one way in which they can show they care for a friend or family member.
  • Provide each student with a copy of the handout “What Does it Mean to Have Empathy”. Create a class big book by having each child draw and colour a picture with crayons and print to complete the frame sentence “I Show I Care When....”



  • Collect the big book pages and read aloud the completed book to the children.

Part Three: What Does it Mean to be Respected and Appreciated?

Literature Selection: The Kindness Book by Todd Parr

Resources and Preparation:

  • white construction paper for cloud (4” x 6”), 1” x 8” construction paper strips in the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink)
  • chart paper and markers
  • pencils, felt pens, glue stick, scissors



  • Introduce the Compliment Circle by having children sit in a circle with their legs extended into the center. (Select a simple theme such as the clothing they are wearing. Over time, the themes can become more complex such as complimenting friendly, respectful, and helpful behaviours.)
  • Begin by giving a compliment to the student to your right on a specific theme.
  • Discuss: What is a compliment?  A compliment is a kind way of telling someone you like something about them.
  • After the student receives a compliment, they should pull their legs into a criss-cross position and compliment the child to their right using the same theme.
  • Continue this process until the circle is complete.
  • Discuss:
  • How did you feel when your friend complimented you?
  • How do you think your friend felt when you complimented them?
  • When we are with our classmates, family and friends and even people we have not yet met, we want to be respectful towards them.
  • Respect means how we treat and think about other people or things, through our words and actions.
  • Respect for people includes being kind, caring, thoughtful, appreciative and a good listener. 
  • Respect for things includes being responsible, careful and gentle. This includes our toys and books, the toys and books of others, our classroom Centres and the world around us (our environment).
  • Part of being respectful means showing our This means we recognise how important people and things are to us, and by showing our gratitude (thankfulness), in our words and actions
  • Read aloud The Kindness Book.


Key Questions:

  • Being kind is a respectful, appreciative behaviour. What were some of the respectful, appreciative behaviours in the story that made you feel good?  
  • How do you think others would feel when you treat them in a respectful way?
  • We treat and think about people in the ways we wish to be treated and thought about. When we treat our classmates, family and friends respectfully and with appreciation, they will treat us with respect and appreciation.
  • Create an anchor chart by recalling and recording on chart paper with a quick sketch for reference, the kind and respectful behaviours from the story The Kindness Book.


Student Response and Reflection: “Respectful Rainbow”

  • Have children draw and cut out a cloud from white construction paper.
  • Help children print one kind and respectful behaviour (refer to anchor chart) on each rainbow strip.
  • Remind students of the pattern of colours in a rainbow and have them glue their rainbow strips to the back of their cloud.



  • Ask the children to share what they appreciate most about their classmates and their classroom.


Part Four: What Does it Mean to Feel Safe?

 Literature Selection:  The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates


Resources and Preparation:

  • chart paper with a large umbrella drawn on it and divided into five sections
  • big umbrella (golf umbrellas are a good size)
  • class set of paper umbrellas divided into five sections
  • crayons, felt pens, and markers



  • Open a big umbrella.
  • Ask how many children they think can fit underneath.
  • Invite groups of children to come and join you, using specific criteria, so that eventually everybody is under (or close to) the umbrella
  • Discuss:
  • How do you feel with all of us together under the umbrella?
  • How would you feel being left out in the rain, without protection from the umbrella?
  • What are some of the things we could do if we couldn’t fit everybody underneath?
  • Why is it so important that everybody can fit underneath the umbrella? 
  • Read aloud The Big Umbrella.


Key Questions:

  • Review the variety of occupants under the umbrella (tall, hairy, plaid, missing a leg). The story tells us that some people are worried that there might not be enough room, but there is always enough room for everyone.
  • How does it make you feel, knowing there is room for everybody under the umbrella?
  • The idea of the big umbrella is that everybody can fit, everybody is included and everybody is safe; the umbrella is a symbol for an inclusive society.
  • We want people to always feel safe no matter where they are, to share their feelings, thoughts and opinions.
  • Besides feeling safe under the umbrella, where are some of the other places you might feel safe?


Student Response and Reflection: “The Big Umbrella”

  • Revisit the story, and identify the 5 main ideas of the big umbrella that help us to feel safe: a hug, shelter, love, inclusion, all abilities. 
  • Have children use crayons to draw and colour a symbol for the main ideas, one in each umbrella section (eg. someone they wish to hug; their home for shelter; a heart for love; themselves for inclusion; trace or draw their hand for all abilities).



  • Ask children to share the name of a person with whom they feel safe; this may be a family member or a school friend or teacher, and to explain why if they are able.

Part Five: What Does it Mean to Belong?

Literature Selection:  Twig by Aura Parker


Resources and Preparation:

  • 5-6 sets of related objects, with 1 unrelated object (eg., plastic animals and a rock), one set per table group
  • large heart drawn on white construction paper and cut into the number of sections appropriate for the size of the class (see template in lesson)
  • pencil, crayons, glue stick and scissors



  • Place a set of related objects, plus the 1 unrelated object, on student tables.
  • In their groups, have children explore the objects and discuss which object does not seem to belong.
  • After children have shared their thoughts with the class, ask them now to figure out a connection to the unrelated object so that it actually belongs.
  • Have children share their new perspective on how all of the objects are related and can belong.
  • Read aloud Twig.


Key Questions:

  • Why did Miss Orb and the other bug children not notice Heidi right away?
  • Revisit the story to look carefully at the pictures to see how Heidi was camouflaged, or hidden. 
  • What do you notice about Heidi and the other bugs?
  • Why doesn’t Heidi feel she belongs with the group?
  • How did Miss Orb and the bug children help Heidi to be noticed?
  • Even though Heidi now has her colourful scarf, she is still very proud of being a stick-bug.  How does being herself help her the most?
  • Being part of a group gives us a feeling of belonging.  Belonging means we are a member of a group, and people can belong to many different groups.  Each child belongs to a family, a classroom and a school.  We can feel belonging through common interests and activities with other people.  Belonging is important for us to feel connected to others and helps us to feel happy and healthy.


Student Response and Reflection: “Belonging Class Mural”

  • Show the children the large heart mural background and explain that this background is a place where we all belong. Each child will contribute an image of him or herself to be placed on the mural.
  • Provide each child with one piece of the white heart. Have children draw a personal image with crayons onto their piece.
  • Glue their images onto the background mural.



Draw a large heart, divide into the number of spaces needed based on size of class, cut out and give each child one section (a large class might have two 9-piece hearts)


Completed mural


  • Admire the class mural together and remind children that our classroom and school is a place where they always belong.


Part Six: How Can We Include Others?

 Literature Selection:  Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev


Resources and Preparation:

  • a sign that says “Strictly No Teachers”
  • large popsicle sticks
  • glass jar or small container to hold the popsicle sticks
  • chart paper, markers, and felt pens



  • Hang a sign outside the classroom door that says “Strictly No Teachers” for the children to see when they come in from outdoor playtime.
  • Read the sign aloud to the children.
  • Explain to the children how you feel...left out, not part of the group, excluded.
  • Discuss:
  • Why isn’t the teacher allowed inside the classroom?
  • Why would someone not want to include the teacher?
  • What should the class do so the teacher feels part of the group again?
  • Take down the sign and tell the children that in Kindergarten, everyone is always included and welcomed.
  • Read aloud Strictly No Elephants.


Key Questions:

  • How did the boy and his elephant feel when they read the sign, “Strictly No Elephants”?
  • Why do you think elephants were excluded from the club?  
  • How did the boy, the elephant and their new friends fix the problem?
  • What did their sign say so everyone knew they were included?
  • We want to include everybody when we learn and play, even if there are differences between us.  This is called inclusion.  Inclusion is when people’s differences are valued, and they feel included and represented in the group.  When the boy and the elephant were not allowed into the Pet Club, they were excluded.  The elephant, skunk and other animals were excluded because they were different.  But being different, and understanding and appreciating the differences, is what makes people special and unique.  When we understand and appreciate the differences, we are being
  • Another important message in the story is about friendship.  Friendships are important connections between people.  We learn how to get along, develop empathy, caring and trust with our friends.
  • Revisit the story and review and discuss: What do friends do for each other?
  • Friends lift each other over the cracks.
  • Friends brave the scary things for you.
  • Friends never leave anyone behind.
  • Friends will give you directions if you need them.


Student Response and Reflection: “Playground Pick-Up Sticks”

  • Brainstorm some of the inclusive behaviours the children can do on the playground to include everybody in outdoor playtime.
  • Record on ideas as two- or three-word phrases on chart paper with a quick sketch for reference to create an anchor chart.
  • Hand out one popsicle stick to each child. Have each child copy one phrase in felt pen on their popsicle stick.
  • Collect the popsicle sticks and place in the jar.
  • Before the next outdoor playtime, the Special Helper or Classroom Leader will choose two sticks from the jar and read them aloud.
  • The class will try to focus on those two inclusive behaviours during playtime so that everybody feels included.



  • Show the children the “Strictly No Teachers” sign which has been crossed out to say: “All Teachers and Children Are Welcomed” and hang it together on the classroom door.
  • Review the children’s brainstormed ideas from the pre-assessment charts at the beginning of this unit:
  • Head - What do I know?
    • How do I include others in my playtime? 
    • What do my classmates do to make me feel included? 
  • Heart - How does this make me feel?  
    • How do I feel when I play with my friends?
    • How do I feel when I am not included during play?  
    • How do my friends feel when I exclude them?


  • Show the third chart (Feet). Now that they know (in their brain and their thoughts) to include others at Centre Time and outdoor playtime, and how they feel (in their hearts with their feelings) about being included:
    • What steps can they take to help their classmates feel they are part of the group? 
    • How do their actions affect other children?
  • Engage the children in brainstorming what they can do (they take action with their feet).
  • Feet - How do my actions affect others?  
    • What can I do to include everyone? 
    • What are some things I can say to include others?  
    • How can I show a friend they can come and play with me?


Paper Chain of Kind Deeds

  • Each time a student does a kind deed around the classroom and playground, the teacher will record it on a slip of coloured paper. 
  • Each of the slips is connected to the last one to create a paper chain of kind deeds.


Problem-Solving Table

  • Set aside a quiet area in the classroom with a small table and chairs, low lighting, comfort toys (stuffed animals).
  • Place images or drawings of the 6 feeling faces on the table or post around the space.
  • Introduce the space to the children as a Problem-Solving Table, a place where they can sit down with the other children to talk about solving problems.
  • Ask the children to create some rules to be followed at the table (be a good listener, share how you are feeling, be honest).
  • When a conflict occurs during the day that cannot be easily resolved invite the children involved to the Problem-Solving Table.
  • Help mediate their discussion, remind them of the rules they created, and help them decide for themselves the best solution.


Wrinkled Heart

  • Students will create a “Wrinkled Heart” and learn that every unkind comment and action can scar a person forever, no matter how many kind words and actions are made in the years to follow.
  • Cut out a paper heart for each student, or a large heart to use as a class.
  • Ask the class for examples of things that people say or do that hurts their feelings. For each example, have children wrinkle or fold their heart. If you are doing this activity with one group heart, pass it around in a circle and have each child create a fold.
  • Then have students share positive experiences or ways that others have made them feel good. For each response or example, unfold the heart.




Bessick, Paige. 2021. “The Interactive Teacher: Ideas and Resources to Make Learning Interactive, Engaging and Fun.” Paige Bessickhttps://paigebessick.com/


“Change Yourself and the World by Giving Everyday.” [2020.] 365Give.



Unit Stories


Bates, A.J. [2018]. “The Big Umbrella.” New York, [NY]: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Mantchev, L. [2015]. “Strictly No Elephants.” New York, [NY]: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.


Miller, P.Z. 2018. “Be Kind.” New York, [NY]: Roaring Brook Press.


Parker, A. 2017. “Twig.” Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada Ltd.


Parr, T. 2019. “The Kindness Book.” New York, [NY]: Little, Brown and Company.


Stead, P.C. 2010. “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.” New York, [NY]: Roaring Brook Press.


Additional Stories on Inclusion and Representation


DiOrio, R. [2015]. “What Does It Mean to Be Kind?” San Francisco, CA: Little Pickle Press.


Gray Smith, M. 2020. “When We Are Kind / Nihá'ádaahwiinít'ı̨́́įgo” Victoria, BC: Orca Book Publishers.


Larsen-Jonasson, T. 2016. “The Sharing Circle.” Victoria, BC : Medicine Wheel Education.


Maclaine , J. and R. Reeve. 2018. “Miss Molly’s School of Manners” Tulsa, OK: EDC Pulblishing. 


McCloud, C. and D. Messing. 2006. “Have a You Filled your Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. Northville, MI: Ferne Press.  


Pearson, E. and F. Kosaka. 2002. “Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deed.” Layton, UT: Gibbs Smith. 


Teckentrup, B. 2020. “Kindness Grows.” Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales, 2020


Verdick, E. 2004. “Words are Not for Hurting.” Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Pub.


Willems, M. 2010. “Can I Play Too?” New York, [NY]: Hyperion Books for Children.


Willems, M. 2011. “Happy Pig Day!” New York, [NY]: Hyperion Books for Children.


Willems, M. 2013. “A Big Guy Took My Ball!” New York, [NY]: Hyperion Books for Children.


Professional References


Hurley, K. [2018.] “No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls.” New York, [NY]: TarcherPerigee.


Pleshette Murphy, A. 2008. “The Secret of Play: How to Raise Smart, Healthy, Caring Kids from Birth to Age 12.” New York, NY: F A O Schwarz: DK Pub.


Rice. J.A. 2013. “The Kindness Curriculum: Stop Bullying Before It Starts.” St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.


Tarshis, N., Hendrix, R., Zweber Palmer, K. Garcia Winne, M., et al. [2016]. “We Thinkers!  Volume 1. Social Explorers.” Santa Clara, CA: Social Thinking Publishing.

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Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

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