SPARKLERS / Kindness & friendship

We Can Only Shine!

A fun and memorable lesson about diversity, acceptance and being our true selves
Connections with the NZ Curriculum and Mental Health Education Guide (learn more)

Learning outcomes

Tamariki understand the importance of accepting differences and being supportive.

He aha ai? – Why we love it

We know people are more likely to be bullied if they seem different from their peers in some way.

This might include being clever or popular, differences in race, sexuality, gender identity, religion, disabilities and abilities, weight, height.

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate diversity and embrace our differences – we aren’t all the same and that’s a great thing! (Bullying-Free NZ Week website, 2017).

We hope this activity will help foster a culture of inclusion and acceptance.

Tikanga tips

This activity is designed to get students thinking about complex issues such as stigma, discrimination, diversity, identity and authenticity, but in a child-friendly way. Although students are not prompted to disclose any personal information, prepare appropriately in case anyone does choose to share something personal. If they do, remember the moral of this lesson, and celebrate their sparkling diversity!

Hei mahi - What to do

This activity works best with glitter.. or something small and sparkly! We have some suggestions below.

The reason we'd suggest using glitter (or similar) for this activity is:

  • It’s a fantastic metaphor for letting our identities shine through
  • Trying to hide glitter is challenging — which makes it a great metaphor for how it might feel to try to ‘hide’ our sexuality or gender identity.

We expect that this activity is non-repeatable within a child’s education. The goal is to create a lasting memory of the experience.

If you choose to use glitter, please ensure you go biodegradable. Local stationery shops should provide this option or you could order some online at Glitter Tribe or Pure Nature.

Some great glitter alternatives, could be:

  • Confetti (empty your hole punches)
  • Sequins
  • Sand

Or, you could use a glittery sticker, asking tamariki to attach this to their arm (or sleeve) but to keep it hidden at all times for the day. Emphasise: it mustn't be seen or removed.

Getting started

At the start of the day give each student a small handful of glitter or your chosen item. Let them know that they will need it at some point in the day and to just keep it with them. Put on your best ‘stern voice’ though, and let them know you don’t want to see glitter spread through the classroom. You’d really appreciate them keeping it out of sight. Ask them to keep it tucked away in their hand for as long as they can, and then to hide it away somewhere - their pocket, in their sock or shoe... Tamariki will be slightly confused, but keep 'playing' and everything will make sense soon enough.

Midway through the day, get the students’ attention and remark with disappointment on all of the glitter/sequins/confetti/sand (everywhere!).

Students will probably protest and they have every right to – it was an impossible task.

Ask them:

  • What is it like to hide something that can’t be hidden?
  • How did it feel being told to hide the glitter, knowing that was impossible?
  • How did hiding the glitter distract you today?
  • What are some examples of real life ‘glitter’ that we might try to hide?

Explain that sexual orientation and gender identity are often things that people feel they have to hide.

Ask tamariki why people might feel they have to hide something really important about who they are:

  • Worry they might get bullied
  • Not wanting attention
  • Don’t want to seem different

What might some of the impacts be, both for individuals and the wider community?

It’s important to let tamariki know that there will be some things we choose to hide, not because of the fear we might be bullied or made to feel different, but because we’re just not ready to talk about it yet. And this is perfectly okay.

What’s important is that when we do choose to share, it’s safe for to do so - everywhere.

How can we better support people in our school to not have to hide any aspect of their identity?


  • Using inclusive language
  • Challenging gender-norms
  • Ensure the school has a framework to support LGBTQIA+ tamariki and staff.
  • Fostering kindness.

Talking with your students about these sorts of things can sometimes be a bit awkward or even scary at first. Sometimes it can be challenging to know what depth to teach to- or for younger tamariki, whether to even introduce these topics at all!

If this is the case for you, we recommend having a look at the following guidelines:

  • Sexuality education: A guide for principals, boards of trustees, and teachers (from the Ministry of Education, available to download here)
  • Promoting wellbeing through sexuality education (from the Education Review Office, available to download here)

You will find that this activity can be linked to the suggested learning intentions for sexuality education at each curriculum level (as well as plenty of other areas!). Use the Ministry of Education guidelines to frame your language and develop confidence talking and teaching diversity. You will know your tamariki best and what will suit their needs.

Notes from this discussion may help prepare more inclusive school policies. For more on this, please refer to the TKI Inclusive Schools webpage where lots of great information lives!

To finish up the activity, come together as a class to create a keepsake reminder artwork using the (remaining!) glitter to display and admire in the classroom.

It might be a good idea to to prepare an explanatory note for tamariki to take home. Especially around the glitter EVERYWHERE! But hey, we say - we've all got to shine!

What next?

If you're keen to try more Rainbow supportive ideas and activities try A Sparkling Book Review and Our Aotearoa Upstanders and Me

Read up on supporting all tamariki using the great resources at InsideOUT.

We also love this activity created by ‘Welcoming Schools'

Looking after you

Foster the hauora of your kaiako and team

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