Respect Our Differences

Elementary & Middle School (can be adapted)

Northeastern Local Schools, Springfield, OH / Veda

Laura Hufford, School Counselor

Respect Our Differences
Diversity, Respect, Social Skills, Empathy

Veda and a student working together.


Students will learn that all people have differences and similarities.

Students will learn that even with our differences, all are to be treated with respect and kindness.


A book or story that relates to diversity and being alike and different (such as Mr. Lincoln’s Way by P. Polacco).

Activity worksheet: Similar/Diverse. (Page Three of printable PDF below.)

Smart board, chalkboard, or flip chart.


Discuss the meaning of diversity. Ask “How are we all alike/different?” Make a list of the likenesses and differences.

Read the story and ask students to watch for examples of how people are alike/different. Discuss the similarities and differences they noticed in the story.

Now focus on your therapy dog. Ask students if any of the story they heard could relate to their dog’s situation. Ask questions such as “What if in order to be a School Therapy Dog you had to be a Golden Retriever (or any breed that is different from the breed of YOUR therapy dog)?” As the leader of the discussion, play the devil’s advocate and make up reasons why that dog shouldn’t be a School Therapy Dog (wrong color, wrong breed, wrong hair length, wrong eye color, etc.). Ask “Would those be a fair reasons to say a dog shouldn’t be a School Therapy Dog?” (Answers will vary, but the students should see that those exterior characteristics have nothing to do with what makes a good therapy dog.)

Ask students how the therapy dog discussion relates to the story that was read to them. (Answers will vary, but students will see that while each of us looks different on the outside, we are all individuals with feelings.) Lead a short discussion on what can be learned from the story.

Pass out the Similar/Diverse worksheets. Each student should fill out the right side of the worksheet with his answer. Then students should circulate to find others who share the same answer. If another student has the same answer, he should sign his name on the left.


Observe students as they complete the worksheet activity. Watch for students who are having difficulty. Help them find others who have similar answers. Ask why it is important to think about the fact that we are different from and yet similar to others. (Answers will vary.)

For a Printable PDF of this Lesson Plan, download this file: AP-LessonPlan-RespectDifferences

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