Extended Classroom Activities

In order for students to build self esteem they need to know who they are and what is important and unique to themselves personally. Students also need to have a concrete  way in which to express their value. These activities give students a chance to reflect on who they are (and with some lessons, share that information in a fun way with the rest of the class).


  1. Students will use an appropriate way to share (if appropriate) facts about themselves.
  2. Students will become aware of the uniqueness and value of themselves and of others.
  3. Students will describe orally to a group of peers who they are.
  4. Students will find pictures or phrases to symbolize concepts of their personalities.

A Journal – Language Arts
As a journal entry each student might write a poem, describe a dream, or share something he is pleased about or unhappy about. It is the student’s journal; read an entry only if the student says you may. However, do check regularly to ensure that there are at least three dated entries per week.

Being Your Best: Traits – Language Arts, Decision Making
Ask students to rip a piece of paper into ten strips. On each strip they will write a word or phrase that describes themselves. Assure students that no one will see what they have written, so a student can be extremely honest. Next instruct the student to arrange these ten traits in order from what he/she most likes about themselves to what he/she least likes.

When done, say, “Do you like what you see? Do you want to keep it? Now give up one trait. How will the lack of that trait affect you? Next give up another trait. Then give up three traits. Now what kind of person are you?”

After giving up six of the qualities, have students regain the traits one by one. You may see tension as students decide which traits they will give up. You may hear comments about how incomplete the student feels without those traits, and see great relief, and a new understanding of the importance of those traits, as they are regained. After the session, have students write in their journals what traits they kept and what they learned about themselves from this experience.

Highlight the Positive – Language Arts
Break the class into groups of four to six.   Students focus on one group member at a time. Have all the students in the group tell all the positive things they can about that person. Encourage compliments that focus on behavior rather than something that cannot be altered or developed like a physical characteristic. No put downs are allowed. Every comment must be positive. One student acts as the recorder. This list is then given to the person for his/her journal.

Write Yourself a Letter – Language Arts
At the end of the school year, have students write themselves a letter. Tell them that no one but they will read this letter so they can say anything they want in it. However, a part of that letter might include who their friends are, their current height and weight, favorite movies and music, and special things both good and bad that occurred during the year. Encourage students to also include a current picture. On another sheet of paper or the back of that sheet ask students to write ten goals they would like to accomplish by this time next year. Students seal this letter in an envelope, self-address it, and give it to the teacher. In a year the teacher mails the letters back to the students.

Self Portraits – Visual Arts, Language Arts
Using a small mirror, students draw themselves. Students use black or colored pencils, but any medium could be used. The picture does not have to be exact, but it should be representative of that student. These portraits go into journals. An optional variation is to divide the shape for the face down the center lengthwise. Half the face can be a depiction of how the student sees himself, and the other how he thinks others see him. This is accompanied by a journal entry that describes how the student sees himself versus how he thinks others see him.

Create a Commercial – Visual Arts, Theater Arts
Each student writes a two- to three-minute television commercial. The topic is “Why someone should hire me.” The commercial depicts the student’s special qualities. After they work on these, the students present their commercials in front of the class. Another variation is for a group of five to create a commercial for each one and then present this in front of the class.

Designing Self-Collages – Visual Arts
Using pictures, word phrases, or symbols clipped from magazines that represent things they enjoy doing or own, places they’ve been, people they admire, or careers they desire,  students create a collage. Students place their names on the back.  Teacher posts the collages around the room and have the other students guess which collage belongs to whom and state why they made that guess.