Early Childhood / Primary and intermediate School Activities
In Pride Week, we want to give ALL schools the option to educate and share knowledge.
Here you will find some activities that will benefit younger children.
An interactive game that explores all the things we have in common, rather than focusing on our differences.
Common Ground Activity
Why we love it
Because we are social beings we are naturally drawn to those who ‘look’ like us. We do this unconsciously but it can feed into the assumption that because others don’t look like me, they aren’t like me. This activity debunks all that!
What to do
You may like to print this activity, so you have a bunch of questions on hand! Then take your tamariki to a grassy area or clear LOTS of space indoors, and ask them to create a large circle.
Let tamariki know that: the only rule for this game is to listen carefully… if any of the statements you hear relate to you, run into the centre of the circle, meet others who are the same, then head back to your place in the circle again. The space where they run into is called the common ground.
Try this out with:
- You are wearing socks.
- You go to this school! (hehe!)
Let tamariki know that they’re playing the game exactly right – running into the circle, then out again if the statement relates to them. Keep going with the questions below and any others you’d like to add to the mix, giving some safety guidelines if needed.
- You have dark hair.
- You like pineapple on your pizza.
- You’ve eaten ice-cream in the last few days.
- You often seem to be running late.
- You have sandwiches in your lunchbox today.
- You love dancing.
- You try not to judge people by how they look.
- You like being inside more than outside.
- You have more than one sibling.
- You want to work in a creative job when you grow up.
- Your house has three bedrooms.
- You’ve stood up for someone who was being picked on.
- You were born overseas.
- You walk to school.
- You are vegetarian.
Finish the game on a high – there is no need to complete all the statements.
Head indoors again, or ask tamariki to cluster and sit for your debrief, asking:
- What did you notice about this game?
- Why do you think it’s called common ground?
- Did you know you had so many things in-common with class members?
- Why is it interesting and good to look for common ground?
- How could this idea travel with you?
The idea of this game is just to have the kōrero and begin tamariki thinking about how we behave, and how we can be better at including others.
Exploring inclusivity & acceptance
This game can be a cool way to reinforce inclusivity and acceptance.
Before playing, we’d suggest getting tamariki thinking along a positive track, by having a korero around why it’s good to accept people just as they are.
You could also ask: What is ‘gender’? How can gendered stereotypes be limiting? Can girls do anything?! What about boys? What does it mean to be open and accepting? Can they think of any celebrities who encourage us to be kind to others, and to be who we really are? (Harry Styles, Lady Gaga, Pink, Taylor Swift).
When you’re ready to return to the game, play as normal, but mix in some questions that challenge gender stereotypes, at an age appropriate level. E.g.
- You think it’s cool for girls to play rugby!
- You like planning kind surprises.
- Your favourite colour is blue.
- You think it’s okay for boys to like pink.
- You think men and women should be able to do any job they like.
- You think it’s okay for girls to have short hair.
- You think boys can be great at cooking.
- One of your sports idols is a woman.
- You think everyone is either a boy or a girl.
When you return to class, ask if any of the questions got them thinking.
Depending on your tamariki, you may want to broaden their understanding of gender minority identities. E.g. Lots of people think everyone is either a boy or a girl, but actually some wonderful people are born between boy and girl (just under 2% of people are intersex). Some boys realise: Actually I’m a girl! and some girls realise: Actually I’m a boy! (transgender), and some are in the middle (non binary).
There’s no pressure to cover all of LGBTQI+ in one go! But if your school community does include students who identify as trans, some positive, strengths-based kōrero can be a good way to broaden tamariki understanding and acceptance.
And if you hear any, we like these suggested responses to gender-based questions or put-downs.
For more information, or to support whānau supporting their child with their sexuality or gender, we’ve put together this guide – How to ‘get it right’ when our kids come out or identify as another gender.
A fun and memorable lesson about diversity, acceptance and being our true selves
We Can Only Shine!
What to do
This activity works best with glitter.. or something small and sparkly! We have some suggestions below.
The reason we’d suggest using glitter (or similar) for this activity is:
- It’s a fantastic metaphor for letting our identities shine through
- Trying to hide glitter is challenging — which makes it a great metaphor for how it might feel to try to ‘hide’ our sexuality or gender identity.
We expect that this activity is non-repeatable within a child’s education. The goal is to create a lasting memory of the experience.
Some great glitter alternatives, could be:
- Confetti (empty your hole punches)
Or, you could use a glittery sticker, asking tamariki to attach this to their arm (or sleeve) but to keep it hidden at all times for the day. Emphasise: it mustn’t be seen or removed.
At the start of the day give each student a small handful of glitter or your chosen item. Let them know that they will need it at some point in the day and to just keep it with them. Put on your best ‘stern voice’ though, and let them know you don’t want to see glitter spread through the classroom. You’d really appreciate them keeping it out of sight. Ask them to keep it tucked away in their hand for as long as they can, and then to hide it away somewhere – their pocket, in their sock or shoe… Tamariki will be slightly confused, but keep ‘playing’ and everything will make sense soon enough.
Midway through the day, get the students’ attention and remark with disappointment on all of the glitter/sequins/confetti/sand (everywhere!).
Students will probably protest and they have every right to – it was an impossible task.
- What is it like to hide something that can’t be hidden?
- How did it feel being told to hide the glitter, knowing that was impossible?
- How did hiding the glitter distract you today?
- What are some examples of real life ‘glitter’ that we might try to hide?
Explain that sexual orientation and gender identity are often things that people feel they have to hide.
Ask tamariki why people might feel they have to hide something really important about who they are:
- Worry they might get bullied
- Not wanting attention
- Don’t want to seem different
What might some of the impacts be, both for individuals and the wider community?
It’s important to let tamariki know that there will be some things we choose to hide, not because of the fear we might be bullied or made to feel different, but because we’re just not ready to talk about it yet. And this is perfectly okay.
What’s important is that when we do choose to share, it’s safe for to do so – everywhere.
How can we better support people in our school to not have to hide any aspect of their identity?
- Using inclusive language
- Challenging gender-norms
- Ensure the school has a framework to support LGBTQIA+ tamariki and staff.
- Fostering kindness.
Talking with your students about these sorts of things can sometimes be a bit awkward or even scary at first. Sometimes it can be challenging to know what depth to teach to- or for younger tamariki, whether to even introduce these topics at all!
If this is the case for you, we recommend having a look at the following guidelines:
- Sexuality education: A guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers (from the Ministry of Education, available to download here)
- Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education (from the Education Review Office, available to download here)
You will find that this activity can be linked to the suggested learning intentions for sexuality education at each curriculum level (as well as plenty of other areas!). Use the Ministry of Education guidelines to frame your language and develop confidence talking and teaching diversity. You will know your tamariki best and what will suit their needs.
Notes from this discussion may help prepare more inclusive school policies. For more on this, please refer to the TKI Inclusive Schools webpage where lots of great information lives!
To finish up the activity, come together as a class to create a keepsake reminder artwork using the (remaining!) glitter to display and admire in the classroom.
It might be a good idea to to prepare an explanatory note for tamariki to take home. Especially around the glitter EVERYWHERE! But hey, we say – we’ve all got to shine!
Why we love it
We know people are more likely to be bullied if they seem different from their peers in some way.
This might include being clever or popular, differences in race, sexuality, gender identity, religion, disabilities and abilities, weight, height.
That’s why it’s so important to celebrate diversity and embrace our differences – we aren’t all the same and that’s a great thing! (Bullying-Free NZ Week website, 2017).
We hope this activity will help foster a culture of inclusion and acceptance.
This activity is designed to get students thinking about complex issues such as stigma, discrimination, diversity, identity and authenticity, but in a child-friendly way. Although students are not prompted to disclose any personal information, prepare appropriately in case anyone does choose to share something personal. If they do, remember the moral of this lesson, and celebrate their sparkling diversity!
A book review worksheet for exploring books with positive diversity, emotion or wellbeing- based themes.
A Sparkling Book Review
Why we love it
This activity can be used across many books, however we recommend trying it for stories with themes tamariki may find hard to talk about, such as sexuality, gender, culture, emotions or friendships. This is a gentle way to introduce topics your tamariki may struggle with or have some prejudice around, but the key is to open up the conversation.
What to do
For this activity we’ve focused on books that incorporate LGBTQIA+ characters, but you could include books on any topics adults might find hard to talk about with tamariki.
Here are four of our faves:
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
- Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer
- The Story of Ferdinand by Leaf Munro and Robert Lawson
- Who Are You: the kid’s guide to gender identity by Brook Pessin-Whedbee
As well as working through the worksheet questions, you could ask:
- What’s one of the themes in this book that some people find tricky to talk about?
- What might it mean that Ferdinand doesn’t want to be ‘masculine’?
- What did you notice about the parents in this book?
- Why is it important that these themes are in the books we read?
- Without giving names, do you know anyone who would agree or disagree with something in this book?
If contrasting ideas and points are made, you might respond by saying: some people have different ideas about this topic. We try and be kind a realise it’s OK for us to have different lives and different ideas.
Please note, some tamariki (depending on their age and understandings) may not have noticed any LGBTQI+ theme – and that’s absolutely okay. This doesn’t need to be a wholly courageous kōrero, it’s just about allowing LGBTQI+ to be a normal and respected part of the classroom environment.
To explore these themes further, try Common Ground and We Can Only Shine.
We’d also suggest adding some Rainbow themed books into your library, if you haven’t already. We love the selection at Palmerston North Library which you can find here.
For more information, or to support whānau supporting their child, we’ve put together this guide – How to ‘get it right’ when our kids come out or identify as another gender.
A special message from InsideOUT
Firstly, thank you for your support in bringing rainbow identities into the classroom! It will make a huge difference to rainbow kids in your class (or those with rainbow parents) to see themselves in the world, and know they are OK, and can thrive, shine and grow freely.
Some young kids already know they are transgender, or nonbinary, or just ‘different somehow’. Others will grow into it later. Either way, little conversations let them know they are OK.
In general, we find kids are totally open to these conversations, as long as you use age-appropriate, factual language. A child that says ‘but boys don’t wear skirts!!’ isn’t being prejudiced, they are just trying to understand the world. They will probably be satisfied with ‘some boys don’t wear skirts, but some do’. Likewise ‘but all boys have penises’ can be met with ‘most boys have penises, but not all’.
Whatever comes up, keep it simple and factual and you’ll be fine.
Sometimes people think that we at InsideOUT are trying to label kids and make them grow up too fast. You might face the same objection. However, what we want is for kids to be able to play, try out wearing a skirt or sparkles or a silly santa beard if that calls to them, try out ‘he’ or ‘she’ if they want, and in time grow healthily into whichever adult they are.
Five year old Sam might grow into being Samuel or Samantha, and might fall in love with a woman or a man or neither. Either way, we want Sam to thrive, be free of bullying or shame, and able to make their own choices.
Thank you for gently introducing all kids to the fact that rainbow people exist, and are all good.
InsideOUT for being so cool and running workshops to explore this kōrero more.