Words That Unite

Words That Unite lesson plan

Words count! Discover the power of words in poetry such as Maya Angelou’s Life Doesn’t Frighten Me. Then create a changeable wheel of communication.

  • 1.

    Have you ever found yourself in an argument when you thought "What did I say?"? Word choices can either soothe or enflame communication. How do you feel when someone says "You …"? Attacked and wanting to attack back, right? What if they had said "I feel … when …"? Wouldn’t it help you to understand what was going on and not feel defensive? Words go a long way to resolve conflict peacefully.

  • 2.

    <STRONG>Identify word pairs.</STRONG> Read poetry or other literature that highlights the power of words, such as <EM>Life Doesn’t Frighten Me</EM>. Brainstorm words that divide people, such as <EM>them</EM> or <EM>but</EM>. Come up with another word that communicates what needs to be said without escalating upset feelings, such as <EM>us</EM> or <EM>and</EM>. List as many word pairs as you can with Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils. It’s easy to make spelling corrections! Then create a spinning word wheel using your geometry skills. Here’s how we made ours.

  • 3.

    <STRONG>Draw speech bubbles</STRONG>. On a recycled file folder, sketch two people speaking to one another. Draw a speech bubble that comes out of both of their mouths and merges into one near the top of the page. Mark an area where each person’s mouth is, near the center of the page. Use Crayola Scissors to cut out the mouths and the area where the bubbles intersect.

  • 4.

    <STRONG>Create word circles</STRONG>. From a file folder, cut out at least one circle with a circumference large enough to fill the holes you made for the mouths and speech bubble. Poke a brass paper fastener through your drawing and into the center of the circle behind it.

  • 5.

    Write a word that tends to divide people on the part of the circle that shows in the speech bubble (such as <EM>but</EM>). Sketch frowns in the mouth areas to look like the people are upset.

  • 6.

    Turn the circle to an empty spot. Write a word with a similar meaning that could unite people (<EM>and</EM>). Draw smiles on their faces. Continue until you fill the circles. Remember, you can erase if necessary!

  • 7.

    Use Crayola Twistables Colored Pencils and Multicultural Markers to permanently color your word wheel and people.

  • 8.

    <STRONG>Share your words.</STRONG> Twist the circle to show people’s reactions when different words are said to each other. Team up with a classmate. Show each other your "divider" words and think of several similar "uniter" words.


  • Students investigate the power of word choices as reflected in literature and personal experience.
  • Students assess people’s responses to different words.
  • Students use geometry principles construct a changeable wheel.
  • Students explore the concepts of conflict resolution through verbal, body, and visual languages.


  • With classmates, role-play using the two types of words in different scenarios to help understand the power of word choices.
  • Try a new way to debate instead of answering a statement pro or con. Construct an open-ended idea to discuss.
  • Invite a conflict resolution counselor to your school to share some of the techniques and concepts used in conflict resolution like win/win, willingness to resolve, mapping conflict, co-operative power, and appropriate assertiveness.
  • Assessment: Observe whether students show more awareness of their word choices when communicating with others.