Exploring Diversity with Animals (K-5)

Diversity Beans - Exploring Diversity with Animals Lesson Plan (K-5) 

Objective: Explore diversity and stereotyping in people by studying dogs.

Materials Required: Approx. 1.5 oz of Diversity Beans per student. Book on dog breeds.


A. Ask the students “Who has a dog?” Have all of the students with dogs tell the class about their dog including breed if known.

B. Discuss the different categories of dogs (working, toy, sporting, etc.). Discuss with the class the purpose of the different types of breeds. Discuss how the breeds have been developed over the years to produce desired characteristics and temperaments (Mastiffs were bred for fighting bears and lions, Great Pyrenees were bred to guard flocks, etc.)

C. Discuss with the class the characteristics of different breeds. Break the class up into 6 groups and have each group select a breed to study. Have each group prepare a report on their breed.

D. Have each group list the characteristics of their breed and record them on the board. Assign each breed of dog a color and flavor of Diversity Bean. Tell the class that the beans represent their breed of dog, i.e. all green lime flavored beans are Golden Retrievers.

E. Discuss with the class the fact that the beans now have characteristics associated with them, the green beans have the characteristics of a Golden Retriever.

F. Discuss any similarities and differences between the characteristics of the breeds.

G. Ask the students with dogs if they feel that their dog fits a set of characteristics and temperament.

H. List some well known dog breeds on the board and ask the students to describe them (Golden Retriever, Pit Bull, Rottweiler, Spaniel, Yellow Lab, Saint Bernard, Greyhound, Poodle, German Shepherd, Collie, etc).

I. Ask the class if the descriptions are valid for every dog in the breed.

J. Have the students taste a Diversity Bean of their assigned color. Record on the board the number of students who tasted what they expected. Repeat 2-3 times. Ask the students if they can think of why the beans taste different in relation to the characteristics of the breeds.

K. Ask if anyone has met a mean Golden Retriever or a nice Rottweiler. Relate this to the concept that the green bean that looks like a Golden Retriever might taste like the yellow bean that represents the behavior of a Rottweiler. Discuss how appearances give no real clue as to how a dog acts and what the temperament is.

L. Discuss with the class the fact that they should never approach a dog they are unfamiliar with. Discuss that even dogs that look nice can bite and be mean. Discuss the fact that even though a dog appears to be a certain breed, it may be mixed and have unexpected behaviors or it just may not have the normal characteristics of the breed. Discuss how you should never judge a dog by its appearance (nice looking little dogs can be very mean).

M. Ask the class how this relates to people. Ask if people are judged by appearance and ask for examples.

N. Introduce the concept of stereotyping in terms of the breed characteristics for dogs. Explain that the characteristics for the dogs are really stereotyping. Discuss with the class the errors associated with characterizing dogs and carry the concept over to stereotyping people based on appearance.

O. Have the students select a Diversity Bean of their choice. Ask for their expectations and then have them taste the beans. Reinforce the concept of not judging based on appearance, but rather judging based on what's inside the bean.

P. Relate this to people and discuss with the class the need to judge people based on what's inside, not on appearance. Discuss with the class the fact that people's appearance is not an indicator of what they are like. Discuss how nice looking people can be bad or how mean looking people can be nice. Explain that we should judge people on actions, behaviors and attitudes, not on appearance.