Avatars and body image Lesson Plan

Level: Grades 4 to 6

About the Author: Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

Duration: 60-90 minutes

media representation

This lesson is part of USE, UNDERSTAND & ENGAGE: A Digital Media Literacy Framework for Canadian Schools.


In this lesson students are introduced to the concept of "avatars" and share their experiences creating and playing avatars in video games and virtual worlds. They then create avatars using a program that is intentionally limited in terms of available body types and gender markers, first creating an avatar of their own gender and then of the opposite gender, and then discuss the program and relate it to representations of gender and body image in games and virtual worlds and in other media. Students then create avatars using a much more flexible version of the program and compare that experience to the more limited version. Finally, students use the more versatile program to create avatars that represent how they see themselves and how they would like others to see them online and reflect on the choices that went into creating them.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Learn the definition of the term "avatar" in a digital context
  • Consider and discuss the influence of avatars in games and virtual worlds on identity and body image
  • Create a media product that communicates their self-perception and desired representation
  • Reflect on the relationship between identity and online representation

Home and School Connection

Download the Avatars Online slideshow.

This lesson and all associated documents (handouts, overheads, backgrounders) are available in an easy-print, pdf kit version.

Lesson Kit