K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education


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  • Multicultural cross-grade level unit plan: This unit of study integrates reading, writing, math, and social studies. It is designed to help first and third grade students relate to other cultures of the world. They will understand and compare the similarities and differences of children, families, and communities in different times and places. They will analyze religious and other cultural traditions. They will apply basic geographic concepts.
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Learning outcomes

  • Students will begin to develop a tolerance and appreciation for people from other cultures.
  • Students will listen to folk tales or legends from other cultures.
  • Students will identify and discuss likenesses and differences.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

Two hours



Art Materials:

  • drawing paper
  • pre-cut construction paper shapes in bright colors
  • glue
  • crayons and/or markers


  1. Practice listening skills prior to this unit.
  2. Teach rules for discussion: raising hands and taking turns.
  3. Provide opportunities to use primary art materials.
  4. Teach awareness of other countries.
  5. Prepare cutout shapes: circles, rectangles, and triangles. These should bright primary colors, sized for nine × eleven drawing paper.


Session 1 (30 minutes)

  1. Greet children and introduce unit.
  2. “Today we are going to read a story that is told to the children of the Inuit Indian tribe by their parents and their grandparents. Listen carefully.”
  3. Read the story, A Promise is a Promise.
  4. Discuss, using these questions to begin:
    • How did the story make you feel?
    • What happened in the story?
    • Where does this story take place?
    • Did it remind you of a story your mother, father or grandmother or grandfather has told you?
    • Are we like the character in the story? Are we different?
    • What would you do if Allashua came to your school?
  5. Conclude this session by asking the students to draw a picture of an imaginary monster. Once completed, display somewhere in the school.

Session 2 (30 minutes)

  1. Greet students and review last session.
  2. Read the Arrow to the Sun
  3. Discuss the story using questions from first session as a guide.
  4. Conclude this session by asking the students to use pre-cut shapes (circles, rectangles, and triangles) to design an “arrow to the sun.” As in the previous session, these may be collected and displayed. (I used some of these outside my office.)

Session 3 (30 minutes)

  1. Greet students and briefly review previous sessions.
  2. Read The Stonecutter.
  3. Discuss the story as in Sessions 1 and 2.
  4. Conclude this session by having the students draw a picture about the story.

Session 4 (30 minutes)

  1. Greet students and briefly review previous sessions.
  2. “Today our story is different. It is written in a book, but the words are a song.” Read Bein’ With You This Way.
  3. Briefly discuss the story, making sure students note differences pointed out in the story. Ask, “Is it okay to be different?” Allow time for responses.
  4. Introduce the “go-around” to students. (A designated object is passed around the circle and only the person holding that object may speak. Everyone else must listen.) Use these to prompts for the go-around discussion:
    • Pick out something that is alike about all the people you see in our circle. (Allow all who want to respond to the first prompt to do so before going to the second one.)
    • Pick out something that is different about the people you see in our circle.
  5. Conclude the session by processing the unit:
    • What did we learn in the unit?
    • What other cultures (kinds of people) did we learn about?
    • How were these people different from you? From each other?
    • How are we alike?
    • What do you think would happen if one of the people in our stories came to our school? Why do you think that would happen?

If appropriate, you may incorporate other cultural groups that are present.


  1. Student responses in discussion exhibit understanding of the cultural differences in the stories. (See questions in Sessions 1 and 4 in the Activities.)
  2. Student responses exhibit an understanding that while they may have many differences from people of another culture, they also have many similarities.
  3. Student illustrations demonstrate that they students have listened to and understood the concepts presented in each session.

Supplemental information


This unit was designed following a teacher request for a guidance unit that would foster an appreciation for other cultures and meet the multicultural element in the curriculum.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • Reading: Literature

        • Kindergarten
          • K.RL.1 With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Healthful Living (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.ICR.1 Understand healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationships. 1.ICR.1.1 Explain the importance of demonstrating respect for the personal space and boundaries of others 1.ICR.1.2 Explain the value of having a diversity of students...
      • Kindergarten

        • K.ICR.1 Understand healthy and effective interpersonal communication and relationships. K.ICR.1.1 Explain reasons for sharing. K.ICR.1.2 Compare people in terms of what they have in common and how they are unique. K.ICR.1.3 Summarize protective behaviors to...
      • Social Studies (2010)
        • K.C.1 Understand how individuals are similar and different. K.C.1.1 Explain similarities in self and others. K.C.1.2 Explain the elements of culture (how people speak, how people dress, foods they eat, etc.).

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.04: Share personal experiences and responses to experiences with text:
      • publishing non-print texts.
      • discussing interpretations.
      • recording personal responses.


  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.04: Use speaking and listening skills and media to connect experiences and text
      • listening to and re-visiting stories
      • discussing, illustrating, and dramatizing stories
      • discovering relationships.

Guidance (2001)

Grade K–5

  • Goal 7: Acquire the attitudes, knowledge and interpersonal skills to help understand and respect self and others.
    • Objective 7.10: Consider ethnic and cultural diversity.
    • Objective 7.11: Consider different kinds of families.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze how individuals, families, and groups are similar and different.
    • Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast similarities and differences among individuals and families.


  • Goal 1: The learner will investigate how individuals, families, and groups are similar and different.
    • Objective 1.04: Recognize that families and groups have similarities and differences.
    • Objective 1.05: Compare and contrast customs of families in communities around the world.