Overcoming Obstacles

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Standards Addressed

  • Students will explain the purposes of rules and the consequences of breaking them.
  • Students will explain how following rules reflects qualities of good citizenship.
  • With guidance and support, students will read or listen closely to describe characters and their actions, compare characters' experiences to those of the reader, describe the setting, identify the problem and solution, and identify the cause of an event.


  • Students will understand that fairness is not getting everything everyone else gets; it is getting what you need when you need it.

  • Students will learn that differences in size, shape, color, and responsible ideas are okay.

  • Students will review classroom rules and share how they are fair.


  • List of classroom rules (to be created before class), poster paper, and markers (“I Do”)

  • A set of index cards, each with a scenario of a fair situation, and another set with a scenario of an unfair situation (“We Do”)

  • Poster paper and coloring supplies for each student (“You Do”)


5 Minutes

Ask a student volunteer to join you at the front of the classroom.  Tell students that the two of you are going to compete in a game where each of you performs an action, and whoever does the action fastest will be the winner.  Tell the student that their task is to say the entire alphabet, while yours is to clap your hands three times.  Once you are certain the students understand the rules, begin the activity.

When the activity is finished, thank the student volunteer for participating and ask if they think it would ever be possible for them to win the challenge.  Explain to students that there is no way the volunteer could say their ABCs faster than you could clap, and that you would always win because the game was not fair.  Then say, “Today, we are going to learn about fairness.”

Teacher Presented Knowledge / I Do

20 Minutes

Share your list of classroom rules with the students, and ask them to think about why classroom rules are needed and to share their thoughts with the class. After students respond, explain that the rules make sure all students are treated fairly and all students’ needs are met. Next, explain each classroom rule to students by giving them the ideas behind the rules and how the rules make things fairer. Then, ask students, “Are there any classroom rules that you would like to add to make our classroom work better together?” Create a classroom poster of the new rules the class suggested to hang on the wall. Finally, have students reinforce that they will follow the rules by signing the poster.

Guided Student Practice / We Do

15 Minutes

Tell students, “We are going to play a game.” Read a “fairness” scenario from one of the index cards you created before class. Have students give a thumbs-up if the chosen scenario reflects a fair situation and a thumbs-down if the chosen scenario reflects an unfair situation (if time permits, have student volunteers act out the scenarios while others vote). Examples can include:

  1. Gus was sick in bed with a very high fever, so his mom made his brother and sister stay in bed all day, too.
  2. Cathy’s family had pizza for dinner, and everyone had a piece.
  3. It was Reggie’s birthday, but Courtney received new toys.
  4. Draya’s friend gets to eat a cupcake every night, but Draya’s mom will not let her because cupcakes are not healthy.
  5. Jackson asked Robert if he could play on the computer with him. Robert said, “No, but you can have the computer when I am done in five minutes.”
  6. You can’t go on a ride at the amusement park because you are too short.

Student Independent Practice / You Do

20 Minutes

Have each student create a poster showing a situation that is unfair on the left side and how it could be fair on the right side.


5 Minutes

Ask some students to share their favorite rule and explain why it is fair. Then, ask students to verbally share what fairness means.

Student Assessment

  1. How did we work together today, and was it fair to all of us?
  2. What are some things that you can do to play fairly with your friends?
  3. What should you do if you are not being treated fairly?

Extensions for Lesson 2: Fairness

Art Extension

Have students use magazine pictures to make a collage of their needs. Reinforce to students the difference between what they need and what they want.

Art Extension

Have students create short comics that show what fairness looks like.

Drama Extension

Have students role-play ways to treat friends fairly.

Literature Extension

Read The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin, by Joe Troiano, to the class. Following the reading, say, “Similar to Spookley, all people are unique and different in their own way. We all have different needs and different talents, and this makes the world more beautiful. Being different is fair. But it is not fair to make fun of people’s differences or to make them feel unhappy about their unique traits. That is mean and is not fair.”

School Climate Extension

Assign classroom jobs to each student (for example, calendar keeper, line leader, pencil sharpener, table wiper). Tell students that, at the end of each week, you will change who is responsible for each job so that every student can have a turn. Ask students how this relates to fairness.

Social Studies Extension

Have students identify different community helpers (such as crossing guards, firefighters, teachers) and discuss how they help keep things fair.

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