"In this classroom, relationships are fostered, families are respected, and children are honored.
In this classroom, nature's gifts are valued and children's thoughts are captured.
In this classroom, learning is alive and aesthetic beauty is appreciated." -Unknown

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We Are All Alike...We Are All Different



Before you know it a new school year will be beginning. We'll be gathering lots of little ones together that don't know each other, haven't played together before, and it's a whole new experience for many of them. As the adult caregivers we have the amazing opportunity to invite all these little people into a new relationship, our classroom family. For some of them, this will be their first play experience with children they haven't known all their lives and learning about each other, how we're alike and different, and how to accept all of it and work together is the beginning of embarking on a new adventure.


One of the obvious differences would be appearance: different skin tones, hair colors, eye colors, heights, weights, physical abilities, etc. We display multi-cultural, varying skin tones, different ages, different abilities, and the like through dolls, books, posters, and more. One book we choose to use to demonstrate likenesses and differences is We Are All Alike...We Are All Different by Laura Dwight and a group of kindergarten children. 




The photographic images and kid-drawn images are appealing and encourage the children to look at themselves and their friends.
We then pull out the Crayola Multicultural Washable Paint. They come in 8 colors: Beige, Bronze, Brown, Mahogany, Olive, Peach, Tan, Terra Cotta.



I would choose the two colors that I thought were the closest to that child's skin tone, as one color rarely would match. I'd blend the two colors on the back of the child's hand to see if we came up with the right combo.


Once we determined the color or color combo that matched that child's skin, we'd mix up a small batch of the color in preparation for their self-portrait. You'd hear them saying, "My skin is beige-bronze." "My skin is peach-tan."


Each child then painted their personalized skin-tone on the face outline and we waited for it to dry. 


Continuing our self-portrait project from the day before, the child looks at him/herself in the mirror determining his/her eye color, then add eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Another look in the mirror determines hair color and we measure yarn to match the length. This little guy has spiky hair on top so we measured it for his portrait, also. LOVE IT!!




Here's the end result. Each child's is uniquely his or her likeness. We listed the color or color combo of the skin paint at the bottom of the portraits.



We wanted to get the parents involved, so we took photos of each child's hands to see if the parents could identify them. Most parents admitted that it was harder than they thought it would be.



These are a couple of many activities you can do to develop and understanding and acceptance of likenesses and differences among the children in a gathering. What kinds of things do you do in your program?

11 comments:

  1. I love your ideas!- especially the hand photographs!
    I give our friends eye outlines. We colour them and graph them.
    I also use small mirrors for children to look into. I encourage friends to give themselves a comment and gain confidence in enjoying their uniqueness.
    I have a game where friends wear my brightly coloured glasses and take turns to give each other a comment about what they like about each friend.

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Vickim. I like the idea of the kids giving themselves comments.

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  3. oooh i didn't know you could get crayola multicultural washable paint. Thats a good idea. Love your ideas for celebrating diversity.

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    1. Aren't they cool? I love that they come in 8 colors so you're sure to be able to find the right color or color combo to match each child's skin tone. Thanks so much for your feedback!

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  4. I love this idea. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, Brittany. Doing the paint matching on their hand is a great opportunity for some one-on-one time with each child and something I really enjoy.

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  5. Thankyou for a lovely article. I really love how you blended the paint to get the right colour.

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    1. Thanks so much, Julie. The kids are always so eager to see the color match and then to be able to say what "color blend" their skin is. One thing I do before reading the story and doing the activity is ask them what color their skin is. I then show them a white piece of paper and a black piece of paper and ask if either color matches their skin. It really opens up the door to diversity conversations. Love it!!

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  6. A great companion book to this is The Colors of Us. We also do the paint/skin match, but then the children complete a sentence about their skin color. "My skin is the color of..." They can answer with anything.. waffles, brownies, sand, etc.. very cute!

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