Authors as Published

Elena Serrano, Associate Professor, Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. (

Age  X Children 7-10X Children 11-14  Mixed AgesVirginia Standards of Learning
English 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 4.1, 4.2, 5.1, 5.2, 6.1, 6.2, 7.1, 7.5
Health 3.1, 3.2, 4.2, 4.7, 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 6.1, 6.3, 6.4, 7.1, 7.5, 8.2  
Setting   Classroom    CampX     Either
Location   OutsideX Indoors     Either

Project Skill: Dispelling stereotypes

Success Indicators: As a result of this activity, children will be able to:

  • describe some stereotypes and generalizations that exist in our society
  • understand that certain images or characteristics do not give any indication of a person’s character or personality
  • express ideas about what is important about a person and a friend

Life Skills: Accepting differences, Appropriate expression of feelings, Self-esteem, Character

Preparation Time: Time needed to gather and set up props.


  • Looking at Looks (VCE publication 348-245)
  • Props: Examples include: ballet shoes, a stocking cap, a picture of a weightlifter, an audiotape of a person speaking with a German or Southern accent, a magazine clipping of an ultra-thin model, eyeglasses, hearing aid, a picture of an overweight individual, turban, costumes, walking stick, diary, hard hat, baseball glove, different types of hats, paint set, camera, large belt, smock, picture of wheelchair, popular magazines with pictures of movie stars, and any other props that would demonstrate stereotypes and/or portray body image or weight-related issues
  • Index cards
  • Pencils

Optional Handouts:

  • Who Am I? (VCE publication 348-246)


  1. Set up stations for each of the props (see supplies) with numbers or other identifying marks to help move groups through the stations.
  2. Assign students to groups.
  3. Provide a set time period for groups to spend at each station.
  4. Ask students to write the name of the prop on one side of an index card and what they think of when they see this prop. Tell them it’s okay to be completely honest.
  5. Allow all groups to explore each of the stations quietly, trying out the different props.
  6. Once students have visited all of the stations, collect the index cards.
  7. Organize the index cards by the prop. Then share all of the comments, being sensitive to all ideas.
  8. Encourage students to discover that people are not always as they appear; you can’t judge a book by its cover. Tie this to the Six Pillars of Character.
  9. Go through the Looking at Looks as a group, dispelling some of the myths in it.
  10. Encourage the students to talk to their parents or go over the handout with them.

Six Pillars Of Character From Character CountsSM:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship


  • Discourage students from yelling out. Ask them to write their comments on cards.
  • Anonymity must be respected with respect to the comments.


  • Did you have some personal experience with any of the props?
  • What do these props tell you about a person?


  • What did you learn by doing this activity?
  • What did you learn about others by doing this activity?


  • Why was this exercise important?
  • What things are more important than “looks” or other physical traits?
  • What are some things you can do to make your inside healthy?
  • Describe some traits that are important to you in a friend. Are these related to any of the props?


  • What will you do the next time you see one of these props outside of class?
  • How will you share what you learned here with your parents?
You can’t judge a book by its cover.
There is a lot more to a person than looks – such as character and personality.


This publication was partially funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low incomes. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact your local county or city Department of Social Services (phone listed under city/county government).  For help finding a local number, call toll-free: 1-800-552-3431 (M-F 8:15-5:00, except holidays).  By calling your local DSS office, you can get other useful information about services.  
In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religious creed, age, disability, or political beliefs.
To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call, toll free, (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This publication was partially funded by the Expanded Food Nutrition Education Program, USDA, CSREES.

Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.

Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.

Publication Date

December 14, 2011