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2. Set

In this activity…

Students understand that, despite looking different, we are all of equal value and deserve to be treated fairly. They then discuss what fairness means to them.


Pull out your coins and explain that you have one toonie, two loonies, and eight quarters. Stack the quarters on top of each other, stack the loonies next to them, and place the toonie beside the loonies.

Ask students what they notice about the stacks. Students will likely identify that the stacks are different heights and that the coins are different sizes. Encourage students to also identify similarities and help them recognize that each stack is worth $2.

Then, begin a discussion by summarizing that although each stack of coins looks different, they all have the same value. Ask students to look around the classroom and identify ways in which classmates look different from each other. Students may identify things like height, skin tone, eye colour, hair colour, hair texture, body shape, clothes, accessories (ex. glasses, braces, piercings, etc.).

Alternatively, you can ask students to identify parts of their identity that make them who they are. After several students have shared their observations, conclude that everyone is unique and looks different from the outside but that, similar to the stack of coins, all people have the same value.

Then, tell students that because they are all of equal value, they deserve to be treated fairly. On a scrap piece of paper, ask each student to write down what fairness means to them. After one or two minutes, or once you see that students have put their pencils down, give students the opportunity to share their definitions of fairness.

If students are hesitant to share what they wrote, encourage them by saying that you are not looking for a right or wrong answer. Instead, you simply want to hear as many ideas and opinions as possible to get a better sense of where students are at. Once several students have shared their answers, tell students that most people think fair means equal. Ask them to remember this definition because you will be challenging it in the upcoming lesson.