Have you ever witnessed a student adjust his volume once he noticed he was talking too loudly? Or apologize immediately after offending someone? Those are both signs of a self-aware student.

Understood.org defines self-awareness as a skill that helps students tune in to their feelings, thoughts and actions. It also means understanding that how they act on those thoughts and feelings affect themselves and others.

Self-awareness is also essential to both students’ academic success as well as their social and emotional growth.

According to HubSpot, kids with good self-awareness skills:

  • Have an awareness of how their behavior impacts others.
  • Display an ability to understand and articulate their feelings.
  • Are able to identify what they must learn in order to complete a task successfully.
  • Use self-instruction, such as, “First, I’ll do this; next, I’ll do that.”
  • Understand their personal strengths and weaknesses.

In this activity, students will construct banners that convey some of their likes and dislikes. As they share and listen, they will become more in touch with themselves and learn to recognize and respect differences in all people.



Begin the activity with a discussion about things that students like and dislike. Encourage them to think of activities they like to do, foods they enjoy eating, holidays they look forward to and places they like to go.

Things they dislike might include chores, specific animals or insects, incidents that lead to trouble or certain times of the day. Remind students that there is no right or wrong answer and accept all comments without judgment.

  1. Distribute the art materials to each student.
  2. Demonstrate how to make a banner by gluing or taping a piece of construction paper to a craft stick or around one end of a straw.
  3. Ask each student to make two banners.
  4. Have students write “Yes!” across the top of one banner and “No!” across the top of the other. Ask them to write the names of things they like on the Yes! banner and the names of things they dislike on the No! banner. Demonstrate this process on your own sample banner if needed.
  5. Use different colors and draw a frame or box around each listed item so that it stands out from the others. Younger students can draw pictures of their likes and dislikes.
  6. For extra fun, play a simple polling game with the banners: Ask one student to hold up his or her Yes! banner and read the names of the items listed. As each item is named, ask the rest of the group to: “Hold up your banner if you, too, listed _______ on your banner.”
  7. Call on several students in this manner and poll the group to see how many other students listed the same items.

Wrap up the activity with a few discussion questions, such as, “What like and dislike were listed on the most banners?” To get students thinking, you can also ask open-ended questions like, “How do we learn to like things?” or “What caused you to dislike one of the items listed on your banner?”

Remember: the goal of the activity is to help students become more in tune with themselves as they learn to recognize and respect differences in others.

Looking for more ways to build self-awareness in students? One way is by keeping a journal. The “All About Me” journals invite students to create their own personalized book that includes a self-portrait and eight prompts to help them create their own story.

This activity has been adapted from After-School Explorations: Fun, Ready-to-Use Activities for Kids Ages 5-12.