Five activities that can improve equality in schools

Author Esther Marshall shares five ways to make the conversation about equality fun, authentic and exciting to talk about with young children

Equality as a concept is one that you wouldn’t necessarily think a child would understand. However, in today’s society it is critical children grow up understanding what equality means and how it can affect them and others around them. So how can we make this concept of equality something fun to learn for children?

Activity 1

You will need a globe or a world map. Ask children to close their eyes and to turn around a few times and point to a country. Each time they pick a country you can talk about topics such as access to school, access to food and water, access to toys and access to opportunities like them. It’s a great way to show children that not everything is equal in the world and also a great way to teach children about other cultures.

Activity 2

Get two sheets of paper. Label one ‘girls’ and one ‘boys’. Then proceed to ask them to put the following words listed below into either the girls’ or boys’ side or both. Of course, add in any others you can think of.

  • Different jobs e.g., police, firefighter, hairdresser, lawyer, doctor, nurse, pilot, zookeeper, teacher, scientist, dentist, cleaner, builder, bus driver etc.
  • Different sports e.g., football, ballet, tennis, swimming, basketball, netball, cricket, darts, hockey, rugby, rowing etc.
  • Different emotions e.g., sad, happy, anxious, crying, strong, smart, brave, afraid, nervous, confident etc.
  • Different objects e.g., bikes, dolls, scooters, trains, balloons, butterflies, cars, dogs, cats, comic books, reading books, cuddly toys, drums, fairies etc.
  • Different housework jobs e.g., washing up, laundry, cooking, baking, cleaning etc.

 

Ask them why they put certain words on each list and let it lead naturally into a conversation as to why both genders can’t do the same things.

Activity 3

Go outside and get children to pick up as many different colour objects as they can find such as leaves, flower petals, sticks etc. Then get them to stick them down on a piece of paper creating their own garden.

Explain that everything they picked came from the same soil and garden but grew in different ways and needed different elements like sun and water to grow, but if we didn’t have all of that in the garden or park then nature wouldn’t be as amazing as it is.

It’s the same in society. People may come from different places and grow up with different cultures and customs, but we all need to live together to make up the best society we can be – an equal one.

Activity 4

Get white card/paper and makes stripes of the rainbow. Then colour it in and stick it together. Take away one colour and then two colours and so on.

Explain that without all the colours we don’t have a lovely rainbow and that that is the same in society. We need all races, ethnicities and genders to be part of society in an equal way in order to get the desired outcome of a beautiful rainbow.

Activity 5

Diversify your bookshelf. Only 7% of the children’s books published in the last three years have featured characters from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic Groups. Ensure that the books you have at school show non-stereotypical characters and characters that represent society.

It will help to bring up the conversation and start to build up positive stereotypes to ensure children grow up wanting to be part of an equal society. Some examples of books to get are ‘Sophie Says I Can I Will’, ‘The Proudest Blue’, ‘Look Up, The Mega Magic Hair Swap’, ‘Ruby’s Worry’, and ‘Pink is for Boys’.


Esther Marshall is a diversity and inclusion expert, mental health activist, and the author of the The Sophie Says children’s books series.

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