Exploring Diversity with Geography (K-5)

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

Objective: Explore the diversity of people found within the United States.

Materials Required: Map of the United States and 1.5 oz of Diversity Beans per student.


A. Pick six states or geographic regions (South, Northeast, Mid-West, Rocky Mountain, Central, etc.) of the country.

B. Divide the class up into 6 groups and assign each group a state or region.

C. Have the groups study the state or region assigned and prepare a short oral report describing the area. The description can include crops grown, rural, urban, population, accents, types of food, state capital, landmarks, ethnic backgrounds, sports teams, famous people, weather and climate, topography, etc.

D. Assign each group a color of Diversity Beans to represent the people of their state or region.

E. Have them assign attributes to the people based on their knowledge and perceptions of the state. Some recommended states would be Texas, Iowa, Florida, Washington, New York, Georgia, Louisiana, California, Hawaii, and Alaska.

F. Record on the board or on flip-charts the attributes given to the people, basically have the students stereotype the people in their assigned states.

G. Ask the students if they have relatives that live in any of the states or areas, or if they have lived there previously. Ask these students if they think the descriptions developed by the groups are accurate.

H. Ask if anyone can define the word stereotype, and define it for the class.

I. Lead the class in a discussion of stereotyping and how easy it is to stereotype based on race, sex, ethnicity, background, appearance, etc.

J. Ask the students what they expect from their color bean. Associate the flavor with the state and people.

K. Lead them in a discussion of exterior appearance creating expectations and stereotyping.

L. Have them taste a bean associated with their state/region.

M. Record how many students tasted what they expected.

N. Repeat the tasting 5 or 6 times and record the results.

O. Discuss the fact that people from one state may have all the same appearance but have different flavors. Also, people (beans) with the same flavor are distributed throughout the states (have the students who tasted lemon raise their hands and show that "lemon" people are distributed throughout the states).

P. Ask the students if anyone feels confident that they can pick a "person" from a given state and match both the color and flavor of the bean. Have them try and record the success rate.

Q. Lead them in a discussion on not letting stereotypes/expectations affect their opinion of people. Explain to them the harm in prejudging people based on appearance or background.

R. Lead a discussion on the fact that where someone is from does not determine what they are like. Discuss behaviors and attitudes versus appearance.