Visible and Invisible Differences

An activity that helps learners to think about how they see others and how others see them. It makes connections between what we see and identity.

KS2 | 20 Mins | Group

KEY QUESTION: Do we have things in common and things that are different from each other? Could someone else describe your identity?

A circle game activity that allows learners to focus on the ways they are similar and different from others in the class, or with children in their linking class, and to realize there are similarities and differences which we we can see, and others which are invisible that we can’t see.
By encouraging learners to look deeper into each other’s identities, you will hopefully help them explore the idea that we all have multiple identities and that ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’. Discussing the hidden similarities and differences  breaks down stereotypes, helping learners explore the idea that working out who someone is and what they are like is a lot more difficult than just looking at them.


  1. Ask learners to sit in a pair with someone they know less well in the class.
  2. Ask them to find 3 visible similarities between them and their partner(e.g. both have two ears, both wearing shoes, both have brown eyes) , then repeat for visible differences.
  3. Next ask the learners to find 3 invisible similarities (e.g. both have 2 sisters, both like pizza, both like watching films) then repeat for invisible differences (e.g. born in different places, one speaks a different language, different favourite subject at school, but learners find they can think of their own ideas). Take feedback from volunteers in the group who are happy to share what they found they had in common. Talk to the class about the similarities or things we have in common with one another and also how we can also enjoy the fact that we are not all the same.
    The second part of this activity encourages learners to ask questions to find out about their partner and discussions can take many interesting and challenging directions.
  4. Ask the whole group: Do you have things in common and things that are different from each other? You may find some pairs wish to share their findings or you could ask them to work in 4’s to share their findings. Did you find out anything that surprised you about your partner or anyone else in the class? Lead a discussion to draw out some of the things that were new information, and discuss why people were surprised.
  5. Could someone else describe your identity for you? Discuss the idea that we ‘label’ people and sometimes decide who they are / what they like without knowing, and whether this is OK. Ask them to find something they have in common with others in the group and something that makes them unique/individual from the group.

Make sure that learners do it based on what they think, without being influenced by their peers. Then volunteers can explain their point of view, or the teacher could nominate individuals, as they’ve had the chance to think about their view already.

  1. Ask the whole group: What would it be like if everyone was the same?
  2. It might be a good idea to ask learners to write some individual reflections about the discussion, and they could use the titles: What we did / What I learned / What I will remember, to help them structure their thoughts, but encourage them to write what they really think, as there are no right answers.


The class or group could make a list of the types of things that have been found out, and the categories they fall into, e.g. likes, dislikes, family, friends, religion etc.

The pairs could list the things they have in common and the ways they differ onto a folded A4 sheet of paper divided into 3 columns. This can promote fascinating dialogue.


Based on original material created by The Linking Network and Lifeworlds Learning

Resources to download

  • Visible and invisible differences word pdf