2.11: What is racism?

Lesson overview

Theme:Understanding prejudice
Age Group:Primary Lower – Primary Upper
Learning Area:English Life Skills – PDHPE Life Skills

Learning intention

Introduce the concept of diversity, promote understanding, and foster inclusivity among students by exploring the topic of racism in a simple and engaging way. Students will learn about what racist behaviour is and begin to be able to identify it in familiar contexts such as at school, at home, online, or in the community.

Success criteria

Students reflect on differences and how they make us special. Students can explain what racism is and provide some broad examples or situations that demonstrate how individuals might be discriminated against based on race (including indicators such as food, language, skin colour, religion, culture or heritage).


These resources have been developed to support delivery to students accessing a Life Skills curriculum across stages 1-3.

Worksheets and teacher notes

  1. Activities 1-5 are supported by slides on the associated PowerPoint. See the notes section of individual slides for more information and discussion prompts that can be used with the class.
  2. Worksheets: Activity: All About Me is a differentiated template to be used in Activity 1.
  3. Worksheet options: Illustration Cards or Sorting Activity are to be used at the conclusion of the slides after the concept of racism has been introduced.

Suggested Activities

Below are a range of suggested activities to explore the concept of racism in a stage 1-3 Life Skills educational setting. Some worksheets have been differentiated to accommodate a range of learning needs, further teacher-led differentiation can be utilised, for example: pair work, small groups, peer reading, working with support staff, providing visuals which are suitable to the educational context or using assistive technologies.

1.     Activity 01: Discussion – Our differences are what makes us unique and beautiful. Slides 4-6 (5-10 mins)

Explain to students that today the class will be discussing the important topics of “diversity” and “racism.” Gauge student understanding and connections to the topic through some brief questioning or a show of hands indicating who has heard these words before.

Remind students to be respectful and steer responses away from personal experiences or individual people.

Follow on with a 5min discussion using the following prompts:

  • What makes each of us special and unique?
  • How do you feel when someone is mean or unkind to you?
  • Have you ever seen someone being treated unfairly? How did it make you feel?
  • Why is it important to be kind to everyone?
  1. Activity 02: All About Me. Slides 6-7 (15-20 mins)

In this activity, students draw or list features about themselves that makes them unique. Encourage students to think about what makes them special, such as their hobbies, talents, family, favourite things and interests.

After completing their worksheets, invite students to share and explain their artwork with a friend or partner, asking students to consider:

  • How are they different?
  • How are they the same?
  • Can you find anyone with exactly the same answers as you?
  1. Activity 03: Diversity Exploration. Slides 8-17 (15 mins)

In this activity, students are encouraged to explore diversity. Share images on slides 5-13 and prompt students with the following discussion points:

  • Notice some of the things that are different among the pictures
  • What are some of the things that are the same?
  • Are these things or places you have been before? What connections can you make?

Use this activity to emphasise that everyone is unique and special, regardless of their appearance or background. Discuss the idea that diversity is what makes our world beautiful.

  1. Activity 04: Understanding Racism. Slide 18 (5 mins)

Reiterate to students that our differences are what makes our world beautiful. Introduce the concept of racism as when people treat others badly or unfairly because of the colour of their skin or where they come from. It’s important to be kind to everyone and treat them with respect, no matter what they look like.

  1. Activity 05: Illustration Cards or Sorting Activity. Slide 20 (15 mins)

Use these activity options to help students to better understand the concept of racism.

Illustration cards can be delivered individually, with guidance from an adult. Ask students to share their images with a small group or the class.

Sorting activity can be delivered as whole class, small groups or individually. This worksheet could be blown up to A3 and worked on in small groups or as a class.

Related Resources ​

The following websites may be helpful for further information about racism and racism in schools:

  1. No Way! website
  2. Lets talk about racism from the Australian Human Rights Commission
  3. All Together Now organisation
  4. Bullying and Racism from the NSW Government Department of Communities and Justice