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Physical Differences 

Student Teachers: John Cerra & Jenn Eckenrode
Project Children L.E.A.D. Director: Dr. Vincenne Revilla Beltran
Subject Area: Diversity
Grade level: Middle School (Grades 6-8)
Length of Lesson: 60 minutes

Learning goals based on the Pennsylvania Academic Standards:

10.3.9 Safety and Injury Prevention

A. Analyze the role of individual responsibility for safe practices and injury prevention in the home, school and community.

10.4.9 Physical Activity

A. Analyze and engage in physical activities that are developmentally/individually appropriate and support achievement of personal fitness and activity goals.

10.5.9 Concepts, Principles and Strategies of Movement

  1. Describe and apply the components of skill-related fitness to movement performance.

-(e.g., agility, balance, coordination, power, reaction time, speed)

1.6.8 Speaking and Listening

  1. Listen to selections of literature (fiction and/or nonfiction)

-Relate them to previous knowledge

-Predict content/events

9.1.8 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts

  1. Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities.

-(e.g., Music: form, genre, rhythm)

10.1.9 Concepts of Health

E. Analyze how personal choice, disease and genetics can impact health maintenance and disease prevention.

2.6.5 Statistics and Data Analysis

C. Sort data using Venn diagrams.

3.6.7 Technology Education

  1. Identify and explain the impact that a specific medical advancement has had on society.



  • Students will understand the five senses and how they relate to individuals with disabilities.

  • Students will experience loss of sight in a blindfolding activity to understand a blind person's perspective.

  • Students will read and discuss the lives, accomplishments, and physical differences of Ludwig Beethoven, Ray Charles, and Helen Keller.

  • Students will listen to the music of Ray Charles.

  • Students will participate in a discussion on handicap accessibility.

  • Students will gain empathy for individuals with physical differences through hands-on role-play.



  • Pieces of fruit-one for each student

  • Gallon of Milk

  • Gallon of Orange Juice

  • Bowls, Cups, Plates, Spoons, Paper Towels

  • A Bandana for each student

  • Books on Ray Charles, Helen Keller, and Beethoven

  • Sign Language Worksheet

  • Chalkboard/Dry-Erase Board & Chalk/Marker

  • Ray Charles CD




  • Begin the lesson by reading the following quote by Ray Charles to the students while playing selections of his music.

      • "I did it to myself. It wasn't society... it wasn't a pusher; it wasn't being blind or being black or being poor. It was all my doing."

    • Ask the students if they have ever heard any of Ray Charles' music before.

    • Ask them to put the Ray Charles quote in their own words. Ask the class what they know about Ray Charles.



  • Students will engage in a discussion of the five senses.

    • The teacher will ask the students questions about what they know about each of the five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

    • Building upon what the students already know, the teacher will discuss how each of the five senses work and what they are used for.



  • Pass out books about Helen Keller, Ray Charles, and Beethoven. Introduce each of the books individually by asking the students what they know about the famous person the book is about.

    • Break the students into small groups and give each group a different book.

    • Explain to them that they are to read the book together as a group.

  • After every group has finished reading their book, ask them to explain what they have read about. Create a Venn diagram to organize and display their answers to the following questions.

    • Ask them what kind of physical differences the people in their stories had. How are their disabilities similar and/or different from one another?

    • How did each person become disabled? Were they all born that way? What kinds of accomplishments did they have despite their differences?

    • Ask the students what kinds of things they think would be hard to do if they were blind or deaf.

  • Explain to the students that they are going to participate in a blindfolding activity where they will be able to gain some understanding on what it would be like to not be able to see. Inform them that they will learn through experience how hard it is for people with disabilities to do everyday things.

    • Request for a volunteer to be the first to participate in the activity. Have them take a seat at a desk in the front of the classroom.

    • Explain to the students that they are going to prepare and eat breakfast-blindfolded.

      • Place a blindfold on the student.

      • Set out in front of the student: a bowl, a plate, a cup, a spoon, a box of cereal, gallon of orange juice, and the gallon of milk.

      • Guide the student through the process of preparing the breakfast, explaining what you want them to do (For example, tell the student to pour a bowl of cereal and add some milk). Intervene if they need assistance.

      • After they have put together their breakfast, tell them that they can move back to their original seat and finish eating if they wish. When they have moved, call for the next volunteer.

      • Repeat this until every student has been given the chance to complete the activity.



  • After each student has been given the opportunity to participate, open the class for discussion on what they thought about their experience.

  • Ask the students to relate their experience to what it would be like to live everyday with a physical disability. Relate their experiences to the famous persons they read about earlier in class.


ASSIGN: If time allows, pass out a sign language alphabet sheet to each student. Give the students 3-5 minutes to work on trying to sign their names. After they have had some time to practice, go around the room giving each student the opportunity to sign their name for the class.


CLOSE: In closing, ask the students to name one thing they learned during the lesson that they didn't know before. Ask them how they felt whenever they were blindfolded. Was it difficult making breakfast? What other things would be difficult to do if they couldn't see?




Mathis, S.B. (1973). Ray Charles. New York, NY: Thomas Y. Crowell Company.


McLeese, D. (2003). Helen Keller: Discover the life of an American legend. Vero Beach, FL: Rourke Publishing.


Venezia, M. (1996). Ludwig Van Beethoven. New York, NY: Children's Press.