Mix It Up at Lunch Day presents a great, low-stakes opportunity for students to engage with one another and cross some common social boundaries. But how do you get them to that moment, and what do you do afterward?
That’s where these activities come in—and the beginning of a new school year is a perfect time to debut them! With options for all grade levels, these activities will build empathy, encourage acceptance and teamwork, address the value of differences and help students avoid cliques and interrupt intolerance before it has a chance to take hold.
You can delve into topics related to identity and diversity before and during your Mix It Up event, and then you can go deeper afterward to promote a healthy, inclusive school climate year round.
This activity for the little learners promotes empathy and looking beyond themselves to see the needs of others. This exercise also includes an extension activity that involves going outside the classroom.
Educator and author Mara Sapon-Shevin offers strategies and ideas to help students become allies—people who stand with or for others.
After leading students in a discussion about ways children and adults are discriminated against, the next question is: "So what do I do if I notice this happening?" Sapon-Shevin presents some ways to begin this discussion with young children.
Building a safe and productive classroom community is one of the most important tasks when beginning the school year. Engaging students in getting to know one another and helping each other teaches them to appreciate the beauty of diverse abilities, makes the teacher’s life much easier and helps the whole school community feel safe and respectful.
This lesson seeks to help students understand that difference and diversity are to be celebrated, not hidden. They set the stage for a school year filled with mutual understanding and a real sense of the strengths of the classroom community.
Bullying and ostracism sometimes dominate school culture, leaving many students standing on the sidelines. Through fun activities, critical lessons and special events, Mix It Up has encouraged campuses to stand against acts of intolerance and to commit to breaking down the walls of division.
In this lesson, students will have an opportunity to share with one another how bullying and other acts of bias have helped build a "wall" of intolerance at school. On Mix It Up at Lunch Day, members of the school community will tear down the wall collectively, uniting as one.
When we put ourselves in another person’s shoes, we are often more sensitive to what that person is experiencing and are less likely to tease or bully them. By explicitly teaching students to be more conscious of other people’s feelings, we can create a more accepting and respectful school community.
While some things may divide us, other things can unite us—even simple things like ice cream. This activity, with possibilities for all grade levels, gets students out of their seats, out of the classroom and out of their assumptions!
In the essay "Magic Carpet," Mitali Perkins writes about learning to see her rich heritage through critical colonial eyes as a young girl in New York and her struggle to reclaim her history as an adult. Use this lesson's discussion questions and writing activities to help your students explore identity and assimilation in the essay and their own lives.
Cliques in Schools
What is the difference between a friendship group and a clique? How can cliques make some kids feel left out? How can you include other kids in your friendship group? The activities for each grade band below include several possibilities for exploring these questions in your classroom.
This activity factors in the perspectives of students and teachers. The task: For one week, observe your school's hallways, common areas and seating arrangements in classrooms and the cafeteria, paying attention to how students are grouped. Teachers should first sketch the school's social boundaries, identifying where social cliques hang out. Then students will sketch the school. What will you learn when you compare maps?
This activity involves mapping the areas of the school in which particular cliques or self-segregating groups congregate, but it also includes a discussion of oppositional, "us versus them" thinking. Together, these exercises can encourage students to identify and address exclusionary behavior in their school.
By the time students finish this lesson, they'll be able to identify different organizations in the school and discuss what their organization can do for another group. They'll also be able to “cross-pollinate” by taking action to do a kind deed for another school team or organization.
By the time your students complete this lesson, they'll be able to recognize and define in-group favoritism, identify the ways in which they participate in it, and determine ways to guard against it.
Why do many students stay within one social group? How can crossing boundaries between groups break the walls of division in your school and community? Students explore these questions and more in this lesson that can help prepare them for Mix It Up at Lunch Day and beyond.