Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8
Social Studies

Cultural Identity Tree

Invite students to explore and share different parts of their identity by creating a cultural identity tree art project.

Activity Partner
Total time estimate:
30-60 minutes
Activity Objectives
  • Students will reflect on different parts of their identity, such as major accomplishments, hopes and dreams, and important traditions
  • Using this information, students will create and share a cultural identity tree, and learn more about others' identity, perspective, and past experiences
  • Through this activity, students will practice skills like open-mindness, honesty, vulnerability, and curiosity
  • Paper, pencils, crayons, markers, paint, and other art materials

This activity supports the development of the following social-emotional skills: self-awareness, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.


Engage students in a discussion about identity. You might explain: "Our identity makes us who we are, like our experiences, beliefs, hobbies, and more! It can include who we think we are, who others say we are, and who we hope to be. What else do you think our identity includes?"

Distribute a physical or digital copy of the handout below to students, and ask them to create their own cultural identity tree that depicts different parts of their identity. Students should start by drawing a tree, and then follow the instructions to add major accomplishments, hopes and dreams, strengths, values, and other aspects of their identity.


Facilitate a live virtual exchange with your Empatico class, and invite students to an art gallery walk. Share the link for a digital gallery using a tool like Flipgrid, Wakelet, or Padlet, or ask students to hold up their artwork during the video call.

Students might share more about their cultural identity trees, and explain any personal context or background (e.g., specific memories, traditions, etc.), techniques that they used, or emotions that they wanted to express.


Guide students through a post-activity reflection by asking the following questions:

  • How is our identity shaped by the way we see ourselves, as well as how others see us? How is it shaped by our family and community?
  • As you look at your cultural identity tree, what stands out to you? What feelings do you notice? 
  • What are some parts of your identity that you are proud to share with others? Are there other parts that you are more hesitant to share?
  • What parts of your identity might be surprising to others?
  • Describe the experience of sharing your cultural identity tree with your classmates. What was something interesting or surprising that you discovered? How did this experience make you feel?

This activity was created in partnership with Elaine Miller-Karas and the Greater Good Science Center.

Did you finish this activity? We'd love your input.