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.
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?