Grades 4 and 5
The Me I Want to Be

A Sample Unit on Self-esteem

Lesson Plans | Additional Internet Resources

Unit Introduction: Self-esteem

Although experts are not unanimous when it comes to a precise definition of the term "self-esteem", they tend to agree that there is a strong link between how much we value ourselves and how much confidence we have in our own abilities. Our self-esteem plays a significant role in our social, emotional and physical well-being. The value we attribute to ourselves has a major impact on our social relationships, on our confidence in our ability to set goals for ourselves and to achieve them, and on our ability to resist pressures which may lead to health-risking behaviours.

Whether we have high or low self-esteem depends on how we perceive ourselves and on how that image compares with what we think we should be, based on various external and internal standards. Children who view themselves as inferior to their peers, to the images projected in the media, to the expectations of the school or of their family have low self-esteem. In turn, this attitude prevents them from living up to their potential. Conversely, children who have high self-esteem tend to reach higher, to become better students, better learners, and to develop leadership skills. In other words, self-esteem and achievement, whether low or high, are mutually reinforcing.

Feeling good about who we are starts with knowing ourselves and accepting ourselves the way we are. It sounds simple enough. Yet how much we value ourselves, how good we feel about ourselves is influenced by many factors. It is important for students to learn to assess and define who they are, to appreciate and value their uniqueness, to acknowledge the richness of diversity, and to be proud of who they are.

Students need to realize that they can choose to have a healthy self-esteem. However, helping them take control of their self-esteem requires the gradual development of interrelated knowledge, skills and attitudes: they need to develop a sense of who they are, to recognize their own strengths and value them, to develop respect for their limitations, to demonstrate respect for differences, to recognize potential sources of negative influence on their behaviour, and to develop assertiveness skills to resist such pressures. These skills and attitudes are to be developed gradually throughout the elementary level.

Helping students to develop a healthy self-esteem requires collaborative efforts on the part of the whole school, the family and the community.

Grade Level Perspectives

This model unit is designed to help students in grades 4 and 5 strengthen their self-esteem. Resources, as well as most activities, are the same for both grade levels, as all students will reflect on their interests and abilities, on the people who support them and nurture the development of their self-esteem, and on the pressures which tend to have a negative influence on their self-esteem.

However, some activities are designed to help students reflect on the topic of self-esteem from the point of view of their particular grade level perspective:

  • In grade 4, students focus on "applying decisions" to maintain a healthy self-esteem.
  • In grade 5, students try to deal with conflicting expectations which impact on their self-esteem. They are encouraged to make responsible decisions by sorting positive and negative influences on self-esteem.

Gathering Resources

Specific titles are suggested in this unit only as examples. These and other appropriate titles are listed in Health Education: An Initial List of Implementation Materials for the Elementary Level, 1998. Additional instructional materials to support this curriculum will be listed in Health Education: A Bibliography for the Elementary Level, scheduled to be published in the spring of 1999.

Teachers are encouraged to investigate possibilities for using resources suggested in other lists of materials, such as the bibliographies accompanying the curriculum guides for all other areas of study.

In addition to the school's resource centre and the public library, check the following sources for instructional materials:

  • children's magazines
  • Internet sites
  • television and radio programming
  • brochures

It is also important to access local human resources such as health professionals, parents, or Elders. As in all subject areas, care is required when arranging for guest speakers and classroom presenters. It is the responsibility of teachers to clarify the content and objectives of the presentation.

Unit Overview

Students in grade four should be fairly independent in using the steps within Levels A and B of the Decision-making Process. The purpose of the grade four perspective, Applying Decisions for Wellness, is to help students become increasingly independent in using the steps within Level C of the Decision-making Process. The grade 5 perspective, Considering the Wellness of Others, encourages the students to take into account expectations of others and of self in order to establish priorities when making decisions.




Level A




  • We are all unique: Questionnaire "Looking for Someone..."
  • Let's celebrate our differences:
    • Introducing ourselves
    • Talking Circles: If we were all alike...
  • Nurturing a healthy self-esteem:
    • Reading: "Play With Me", by Jordan Wheeler, in Achimoona
    • Personal response
    • Discussion: accepting ourselves the way we are

Level B


3.Look at options and consequences

4.Choose an option

  • Resisting negative pressures [Lessons are suggested for the influence of advertising and the influence of peer pressure on self-esteem. Select either of these lessons for teaching this unit. The other lesson can be adapted and used within another unit.]
    • Advertising strategies (options and consequences)
    • Peer pressure (options and consequences)
  • Practising choosing an option

Level C


5.Design and carry out an action plan

6.Examine the results. Revise as needed.

  • Action plans:
    • "I can choose to be proud of who I am" (grade 4)
    • "I can choose who to listen to" (grade 5)
  • Adapting our action plans.

Additional Internet Resources:

  • .

Taken from: Health Education: A Curriculum Guide for the Elementary Level (Grades 1-5): Sample Units


© 2007. Online Learning Center, Saskatoon Public Schools