Skip Navigation

Self Concept

Main Core Tie

Adult Roles And Responsibilities
Strand 1 Standard 1

Additional Core Ties

Adult Roles and Financial Literacy
Strand 1 Standard 1




Students will understand how self-concept and self-esteem are built and preserved and how it relates to the perception of individual strengths and weaknesses.


Instructional Procedures

Use the Vocabulary Worksheet and Key(pdf).


Self-concept is made up of several things. People with a high self-concept and self-esteem seem to do well in the world. They are people who believe they can be successful. They are able to perform well at work and they get along well with others in all relationships. We must all learn to emphasize our strengths and positive traits.

Content Outline, Activities and Teaching Strategies
(All options do not necessarily need to be taught. Select ones to cover standards and objectives and according to your district policies.)

Option 1: Self Concept
Discuss the circle of self-concept, using the Self Concept Transparency(pdf) or the Nicholson or Robinson PowerPoint Presentations And Related Case Studies.

Option 2: All About Me
Have the students complete the statements found on the All About Me Transparency(pdf) or use it as a worksheet. After the discussion help students understand that their statements reflect their self-concept.

Option 3: Characteristics of a Positive and Negative Self Concept
Show and discuss the transparency (pdf). Discuss how these statements influence a person's self-concept.

Option 4: Tips for Building Self-Esteem
Show and discuss the transparency (pdf). Discuss ways that students can build their self-esteem as well as others self-esteem. Identify situations in students' lives in which self-esteem is built.

Option 5: Class Compliments
Have students write positive things about each member of the class on the worksheet (pdf). Discuss how others can influence self-esteem.

Option 6: Movie
Clips of the movie Charlotte's Web or Tarzan can be shown to illustrate the caste system. It also illustrates how self-esteem can be built by the way we treat other people and the relationships we form. Stop the movie periodically and let the students discuss what they are learning from the movie in relation to self- concept.

Option 7: Paper Airplane Contest
Have students construct paper airplanes, then go outside and have a contest to see which airplane can fly the furthest. Have the students write an essay on how they felt while making the airplane, during the contest, and after the contest was finished. Was their self-esteem built or destroyed by their ability to make a paper airplane? How do they feel in competitive situations? Relate how there are some situations in which we must take part. Everything we do will have an effect on our self-concept. Sometimes the effect will be positive, other times it will be negative. It is up to us, as individuals, how we let the experience shape our lives.

Option 8: Stereotyping Boxes Activity
Have students complete this stereotyping activity (pdf). Have six boxes with lids decorated so the lids can be lifted off in order to see what is inside. They should be wrapped in the following ways: Have six students come to the front of the room and select a box. Have them explain why they chose the box. What type of person does that box represent to them? Have students share what is inside their boxes. Let them discuss what type of person the box represents to them now. Refer to stereotyping teacher notes.

Option 9: Video
Watch the video The Great Love Experiment. This video is 45-minutes long and is available at some public libraries or from (About $30)

Option 10: Labeling
Have students share personal experiences that they have had that deal with labeling or stereotyping a person and then discovering that the person was much different than their original perception. It is very effective to have them use a teacher as the subject.

Option 11: Personal Experience
Have students write down an experience they have had of being labeled or stereotyped by others. What effect has it had on their lives? Was it a positive or negative experience? If you have permission from the students, you may wish to share some of these experiences with the class.

Option 12: Labels
Have each student list ten negative labels they place on fellow students. Then have them list ten positive labels they place on fellow students. Have them circle the labels they think people place on them. Discuss how they could change these labels.

Option 13: The Facade
Read the story The Facade by Jim Cole to the class. (Mill Valley, CA 94941, 415-388-1621) Discuss how everyone uses facades to protect themselves. Many times we label people by the facades they use, rather than by the person they actually are. Have students make a facade (mask) of their own, using a tongue depressor and paper plate. On the outside of the mask, they should write words or draw pictures which represent the person they want others to see. On the inside of the mask, write words or draw pictures that describe how they really are. After the masks are completed, have the students mingle with one another until they have seen everyone's facade. Discuss the experience with them. Share with students how Jim Henson, the famous puppeteer was extremely introverted, but learned to express himself through his puppets. Most of us don't go to that extreme, but all of us have some facades we hide behind.

Option 14: I Can't
Read the article "Rest In Peace: The I Can't Funeral", Chicken Soup for the Soul , Chick Moorman, pages 156-160. Talk to the class about listing all of their I can'ts on a sheet of paper. Then one-by-one have the students walk to the paper shredder and shred their I can'ts. In honor of the occasion, serve donuts or treats to enjoy while they make a list of I CANS.

Option 15: Personal History
Students will write a personal history reflecting on the handout (pdf) on how their life's experiences at the different stages have influenced who they are, their self-concept & self-esteem, and their goals for the future.

Option 16: Bag Those Negative Message Activity
Have students blow up a small balloon. On the blown up balloon have students write everything they do not like about themselves. On a paper lunch bag have students list everything they like about themselves. Have the students place the balloon inside the bag. As a class have all the students stand up and place their bagged balloons on their seats. Have them all sit down at the same time, popping their balloons as they sit.

Option 17: Commercial of Me
Emphasizing their positive characteristics and capabilities, each student will develop an advertisement or commercial to "sell oneself". They may develop a radio or television ad, billboard, sweepstakes, etc. Have students come prepared to share with the class their projects.

Option 18: Self-Esteem Poem
What does it mean to you? Have students write a name poem.

I am:

M - agnificent
A - ble
R - espectful
Y - our friend


Option 19: Video Clips
The teacher may show clips from the following movies to show how self-esteem is built.

  • Princess Diaries -- the clip where she goes to school in the limo and her friend is criticizing her. The driver tells her nobody can make you feel bad about yourself unless you let them. (actually it is the quote by Eleanor Roosevelt).
  • Lion King
  • Charlotte's Web -- how Charlotte the spider writes words about Wilbur in a web each morning and he starts believing in himself.
  • Dumbo -- Timothy the mouse and the crows help him believe he can fly.
  • Wizard of OZ -- all the characters had to find something to have good self concept.
  • Hook -- Peter had to find a happy memory to believe he could fly again.

For this summary you will need a tootsie-pop for each class member. Before class the wrappers should be removed from each sucker, then re-wrapped with a wrapper that does not represent the actual flavor (i.e., brown wrappers on orange suckers). Give the suckers to the students, allowing them to choose the color they want. Do not tell them that the suckers have been re-wrapped. As suckers are passed out, continue to talk about the fact that a book cannot be judged by its cover. First impressions are not a good indication of what a person really is, etc. Option 15, 17, 18, or 19 could be used as an evaluative tool.

Created: 08/03/2011
Updated: 02/05/2018