Self-Concept Lesson with Magazine Collages

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Today, I tried out a new lesson with my 7th grade students, and it went so well that I couldn’t wait to share it with all of you! {Spoiler alert: my wonderful students made this lesson even more powerful by their actions toward another classmate…keep reading to hear a beautiful story of kindness}.


I started off the lesson by asking the students what they think “self-concept” means. Once I had a few good guesses {none of them actually knew}, I gave them this dictionary definition: “An idea of the self constructed from the beliefs one holds about oneself.” With that definition in mind, we started our discussion. Here are some of the questions they answered:

  • What are things that influence our self-concept?
  • Do you think it’s possible for someone’s self-concept to be different from reality? Give an example.
  • Do you think self-concept stays the same throughout your entire life or can it change?
  • Why might somebody have a negative self-concept?
  • How do you think somebody with a negative self-concept can one day have a positive self-concept?

Once our discussion was complete, I introduced our activity. Each student was given a piece of construction paper and some magazines. They were instructed to cut out words or pictures from the magazines that represent the beliefs they have about themselves in order to get a picture of their own self-concept. My students were really creative in choosing their self-concept collage items.

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Once they were finished, each student got a chance to share their collage with the class. This is where something magical happened. One of my students who I know struggles with body image issues had a lot of negative words written on her magazine collage, like “fat,” “lardo,” “dogface,” and “unpopular.” {How sad that a 12 year old views herself that way!}. The beautiful part happened when her classmates started cutting out positive words they thought described her, and glued them over the negative words to show her how the world sees her {ALL THEIR IDEA!!} She was so touched by this gesture that she blacked out the remaining negative words on her page and read all of the positive ones aloud again. She was beaming by the time the class left the room. Here is her collage after the students added to it:

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I am so grateful that I could witness this act of kindness between peers, and I was truly impressed by my students. Obviously you might not have the same magical experience when doing this lesson yourself, but it can give you some valuable information about how your students see themselves.


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