Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Learning for Littles: Diversity

For Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we decided to do a Learning for Littles segment on diversity. This is the first of many conversations and lessons on diversity. Diversity is such a large topic that we chose to focus specifically on the concept that skin color does not define who we are and that we are all the same on the inside. We will spend lessons later discussing on a deeper level the beautifully unique differences and history that each culture brings. In this play session, we had Lincoln (7), Athena (4), Jacob (2), Sean (2), and Jude (8 months).
Like all Learning for Littles lessons, we start with an invitation to play. This time, I set out two baby dolls in a bilibo crib. The twins made it to them before I could even snap a photo of the babies! They played around, wiped their faces, and rocked them. I chose these specific babies because the dolls were two different races.

I had a few activities planned, the first of which was an "I can change the world" activity. I had the kids each color a piece of paper with a circle on it to start. I find giving them more work space and then cutting down helps the little ones stay on the paper, and it often ends up more full of color than if I were to cut it down first. I did explain that we were coloring the world and provided just blue and green paint sticks. Jude had a little help making sure the color made it on the paper and not his mouth, and the rest of the kids worked independently. After, I cut the circles out. We traced their hands (the younger they got the more of a challenge it was) and cut those out. During this process, we discussed Martin Luther King Jr. and how he helped change the world for the better. Lincoln learned about MLK in school, so I leaned on him to help drive the conversation.
I asked the two older kids what they would do to make the world a better place and then put that on the hands and glued them together. Athena said that she would make the world a better place by making sure everyone knew everyone else so we could all love each other and get along. Lincoln thought that everyone should have pets so both animals and people would be happy. I thought both were very sound goals.

We moved on to an activity that helped set the idea that just because we are a different color does not mean that we are different on the inside. This was meant to be a kicking off point. I do not want to raise my children (nor Kelli raise her children) to be colorblind. This activity was just a start to help explain even to the little ones that just because someone's skin color is different doesn't mean that they are any different in the core of their being than we are. For this activity, we did a little science and made observations based on white model magic clay and then folded in food coloring and compared the two. For step by step instructions on how to do this, click here.
To further our conversation about race, we transitioned to a story called "Let's Talk about Race". It built on the same concept that under our skin we are the same bones, but it went a step further to help describe how we are uniquely different. The book does a great job drawing the listeners in by asking questions about what they are like. It's definitely a great book to read to start the conversation about race.
We ended our play session with a little art. I had extra peg dolls from a different project I was working on, so I pulled out some blank ones and some markers and let the kids make multicultural dolls. I have a very large pack of crayola markers and I was disappointed that there were really only two skin colors. I will be investing in the multicultural marker set soon. The older two and I had a nice long discussion on race as they colored. We talked about people of color that they knew, went to school with, and were friends with. We talked about how people are beautiful no matter what they look like. Athena had a wonderful time playing with the peg dolls, and she was happy that she got to bring them home with her! I plan on pulling paint out soon with the two older kids and letting them make a longer lasting set of multicultural peg dolls!
We had a great time learning about diversity! We hope you have fun starting the conversation about diversity with your little ones. Conversations about diversity are never too early to be had. Jude may be a little young to fully grasp the concepts, but as we continue the conversation, he will be able to make connections from these early play sessions.

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