Many Shapes and Sizes

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Objectives: 

  • To promote an appreciation of body diversity among students
  • To foster a sense of body-esteem among students
  • To increase students’ understanding of ways to maintain a healthy body
  • To reinforce among students that internal characteristics are the most important measure of a person

Materials Needed: 

  • Butcher block paper (1 sheet for each student)
  • Collage materials (e.g., yarn, buttons, etc.) 
  • Construction paper
  • Masking tape
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • A copy of Shapesville ($6.36 through Gurze Books), about a small town where five friends of various shapes, sizes, colors, and talents celebrate what makes each of them unique. ISBN: 0936077441.

In this lesson, students read a story about body diversity and discuss the different shapes and sizes that people come in. They make body tracings that celebrate their unique shape and size, and talk about ways to keep their bodies healthy through good nutrition and activity.

NOTE: If it is not possible to obtain a copy of Shapesville, introduce the activity by discussing and charting the ways in which our body sizes and shapes are different.

Procedure
1. In advance, prepare a sheet of butcher block paper for each student (large enough for each student to do a body tracing). Prepare items that students can use to decorate their body tracings (e.g., yarn, buttons, pipe cleaners, crayons, markers, etc.) and spread the materials out among several table groups or work stations.

2. Tell students that you are going to read a book together about a place called Shapesville, where everyone is a different size, shape and color, and each member of the town is special. Read Shapesville to the class and use the following discussion questions to process the story.

  • Which character did you like best? Why?

  • Which character is most like you? How?

  • Are your friends and family members different shapes, sizes and colors? How are they different?

  • What can you do to take care of your body, and keep it strong and healthy?

  • What can you do with your body that you are proud of?

  • What special talents do you have that make you a star?

  • In the story it says, "It's not the size of your shape or the shape of your size, but the size of your heart that deserves first prize." What makes you a special person on the inside?

3. Tell students that they will spend some time exploring all the special shapes and sizes of the students in their class. Divide the students into small groups and assign an adult to work with each group. Have the adults help each student create a body tracing of their unique shape and size on a sheet of butcher paper.

OPTION: If there is not enough adult supervision to create a body tracing for each student, have students create a collage instead. Cut out multicolored paper shapes of different sizes in advance, and direct students to glue them on to a sheet of construction paper in a configuration that reflects their unique body shape and size.

4. After all of the tracings are complete, invite students to decorate their bodies using the materials prepared in step #1. If possible, take a photo of each student’s face—or have students bring one in from home—and affix it to the appropriate spot on his or her tracing. Hang the completed body tracings around the classroom and take the class on a tour of all the bodies. As you tour around, allow each student a few moments to describe what is special about his or her body.

5. Conclude the activity by reminding students that our different shapes and sizes make us each unique and special. Reinforce that it is important to take care of our bodies by eating healthy foods and being active, and that what counts most is not what our bodies look like on the outside, but what kind of person we are on the inside.

Extension Activity: 

1. If teasing or bullying based on body size has occurred among your students, use the body drawings created in the lesson above to remind students that each of us is special, and that making fun of our differences is wrong (but don’t make teasing an issue if does not come up naturally). Have students draw pictures of or role play ways to respond constructively to teasing that they might experience, as well as ways to be a good friend to others who are the targets of teasing and bullying.

2. Talk with students about loving their bodies through healthy eating. Introduce the basic food groups and help students to make as distinction between "growing" foods (foods that help your body to grow in a healthy way) and "sometimes" foods (foods that we eat less often because they are not as healthy). Have students bring in magazine pictures or actual food wrappers/containers that reflect the various categories above, and create collages that can be displayed to reinforce "taking care of our special bodies."

3. Talk with students about loving their bodies through healthy activity. Ask students to identify an activity that they like to do and have them draw a picture or write a story that features them engaged in this activity. Have students provide a demonstration of their activity for their classmates and arrange for them to teach others how to do the activity.