To learn how to belong to a group of peers without giving up personal identity or individuality.
Children in grades 4-6 are concerned about belonging, and they want to be chosen as members of the "right" groups. During this time, the formation of gangs, cliques, and clubs make some children feel they are "in" and okay, and others feel they are "out." Those who feel left out may do anything to gain acceptance, even if it is dangerous and wrong. They might decide that they do not belong in school and begin to demonstrate poor behavior, poor academic performance, and poor attendance-and by using drugs. At this age, children need to understand that they can retain their individuality and still belong. Often the people who are most respected are those who speak up for their own rights, dress in their own style, and support an unpopular position. The link between this lesson and social studies is that diversity and individuality have helped make America great.
Using the pictures accompanying this lesson have students discuss the strength and cohesiveness of our nation despite our cultural, religious, racial, and political differences.
Using as examples prominent American figures such as John F. Kennedy, Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Eleanor Roosevelt, Cesar Chavez, Thomas Edison, and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., discuss how our national leaders maintained individuality, sometimes took unpopular stands, and yet were able to contribute to building a strong nation.
Display pictures of these leaders and others on a bulletin board. Invite students to tell about a situation in which they maintained an individual or unpopular stand and were glad about it later.
Pictures of the diverse U.S. culture; pictures of U.S. leaders; bulletin board.
• This lesson is so important that is should be repeated at each grade level and can be repeated within each grade level.
• Introduce additional names and pictures of American leaders of many ethnic backgrounds to reinforce the idea that individuality is an important aspect of our society.
Learning to Live Drug-Free, A Curriculum Model for Prevention, U.S. Department of Education's Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program