The best part of an M&M is the inside! I've done this lesson for the past 4 years and it is one of my favorite ones to present! This lesson came from Puzzle Pieces, a great classroom guidance resource by Dianne Senn and Gwen M. Sitsch, and is an awesome way to make kids understand the importance of not judging our friends by the way they look.
Prepare 2 shoe boxes (same size)...one with pretty birthday wrapping paper and a nice red ribbon, and the other one with newspaper (with tears) and twine.
Inside the box with the pretty wrapping, put rocks
Inside the box with the newspaper, put M&Ms.
which gift would you pick?
Introduce the gifts to the class and ask, "If it were your birthday and you could pick whichever gift you wanted, which would you want and why?"
Listen to the students share which one they would pick and why. You will see that most kids will pick the fancy gift. I really amp this up by trying to get them to guess what's inside!
After they have guessed, open up the box and show them the rocks.
Now ask how many changed their mind. (All of them will raise their hands)
Now open the box wrapped in torn newspaper and show them the M&Ms
Conclude with the class that although the birthday box was wrapped nicely, it wasn't very nice on the inside, but the newspaper-wrapped box was sweet on the inside. Have a discussion with the class about how this relates to choosing our friends. Tell them, even though someone is really nice looking on the outside, maybe has the most stylish clothes, it doesn't mean they're a nice person on the inside. It doesn't matter what color they are or what they look like. But we don't know, that's why we have to take the steps to get to know someone.
After the discussion, pass out M&Ms for everyone and ask them what is the best part of the M&M. They will all say "THE CHOCOLATE!!" Explain to them that the color of the M&M does not really matter. Demonstrate this by having a student come up in front of the class, close their eyes, and taste an M&M. They will try to guess what color it is. They will not be able to tell!
People are like M&Ms
Explain to them that people are like M&Ms, it doesn't matter what we look like on the outside, it's what's on the inside that counts. We should choose our friends by the way they act and treat others, not by how they look.
Kids love this lesson and talk about it for a long time! I recently saw in the latest issue of Teaching Tolerance that someone used tootsie pops to teach this same lesson. Love it!