Yesterday I sat down multiple times to type up a post, but I couldn’t formulate figure out an at home activity that matched the story I wanted to share. I couldn’t make it meaningful. I’ve learned as a teacher that if activities aren’t meaningful, approachable and memorable then they won’t be impactful with children. So, sorry I didn’t share an activity, but here is the link to the story I wanted to share: It’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr.
Onto today’s stories and activity:
Today I am sharing two stories that deal with the same topic, skin color. Often we hear people talk about skin in terms of black and white. But, I challenge children (and adults) to look again. The first story compares these colors to those of the earth. All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka. The Colors of Us by Karen Katz finds a young girl and her mother walking through the neighborhood looking at all the beautiful shades of brown that she sees on her friends and neighbors. She compares theses shades to foods that are familiar.
From the palest of sand to the darkest of chocolates, shades of browns are beautiful. So, today let’s celebrate that. Make a collage of all shades of brown paper. Draw with multicultural crayons. Blend paints to create shades of brown. Whatever meaningful, approachable and memorable activity would help your child see the beauty of browns. For me… I drew a rainbow, Because together we create a beautiful rainbow of colors
This week we will focus on accepting differences. Today’s story is All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold. In this story you will travel through a school day learning that all are welcome and accepted for who they are in the classroom. They learn to treasure differences. My favorite page from the story “We’re part of a community. Our strength is our diversity. A shelter from adversity. All are welcome here.”
This is a great opportunity to talk about acceptance and inclusion. Roll play greeting others as well as asking people to join in. Adults often assume that children know how to join a group, AND that they will naturally ask others in join the fun. But, these are skills that need to be taught. Many children learn from watching others as well as from other people greeting them and asking them to join, but direct instruction of these skills are helpful for many children.
What would you say if you saw a child alone on the playground? How could you help that child feel welcome? How would you feel if you were the one not included?
Let your child ask questions. Take the time to look, listen and learn together.
Have your child draw a picture of him/herself playing with someone who is different from them. This could be someone you know or a character from this or other stories. Discuss the similarities and difference. This could be physical differences as well as habits. Remember that the goal is to celebrate the differences. “Our strength is our diversity” Helping children see that the things that make you different are the things that make you special will help him/her see and appreciate the differences in others and view these differences as assets!
This week we will look at stories and activities that help children appreciate differences and acceptance of the uniqueness of individuals.
Today listen to the story Elmer by David McKee (read by David McKee). Elmer is a patchwork elephant that lives in a herd of all gray elephants. Elmer’s friends love to laugh at Elmer’s humor, but Elmer worries that they are laughing at his patchwork. He finds a way to change his skin to gray to fit in, but then realizes that the herd isn’t the same without Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s presence.
Elmer and his friends learn a valuable lesson… the things that make you different are the things that make you special. This is a lesson that educators work to instill in their classes. The look that uniqueness is not a thing to be looked down upon, but instead to be seen as assets.
Chat about the things that make your child special. Look at physical, emotional, behavioral and other differences. Discuss likes and dislikes. How to these attributes make you… you?
At the end of the story, all the elephants have one day a year where they decorate themselves to show their own unique differences too. (Elmer paints himself gray on these days, to still stand out in his own way). Have your child draw an elephant, or print one off the web. Write on the top of the page “I am special because I am ME” Then around the elephant write attributes that make you… you!
Finally decorate your elephant to show off these attributes. What makes you different is what makes you special, celebrate these differences.
This would make a great family project. Have each member of the family create their own unique elephants. Show that there are attributes that are similar across the family, and ones that are special and unique to each individual.
Yesterday we started our topic of “I Can Try New Things” based on the book by David Parker. Today I have another book for you to share with your kiddo about trying new things. The Thing Lou Couldn’t Do by Ashley Spires. Lou thinks she can do anything until her friends want to climb a tree, but she has never climbed a tree before. Finally Lou decided to give it a try, but… well things don’t always work out the first time. But, Lou realizes she can’t climb… well not YET anyway.
The concept of not yet is very empowering for children. It helps them see that even if they struggle doesn’t mean they will NEVER do it. So here is today’s project. We will draw three sets of illustrations. I would not have your child write, but focus more on the conversation that goes with the illustrations.
In the top row, have your child think about something they could not do when they were younger, but then can do now.
In the middle row, draw about something that they couldn’t do before but they are getting better at doing now.
In the bottom row, illustrate something that you are still working on learning and show what it will look like when you succeed!
This week we are going to talk about trying new things. The book I encouarge you to listen to is called I Can Try New Things by David Parker (There are two books in this video, I Can Try New Things starts around 3:09).
The last two pages of the story state “Trying something new may be scary and hard, but it makes me feel good to do it. Name three new things that you will try today.” So that is what we are going to do!
Children at this age (3-6 year olds) have a love/hate relationship with new things. While they love trying new things like a new game, a new song or a new activity, they often are very hesitant with new things like foods, textures and often places. You the caregiver can have a huge impact on when children are willing to try new things. The calmer you are, the more encouraging you are, the more willing they are to take the chance.
With my own children, and students, I typically encourage them to try new things but don’t make a big deal about it to start. Here try a bite of this. Come and play this game with me. Let’s go to the dentist. Then if I see concern I talk. I tell them honestly what is going to happen. Often times adults try to trick children or sugar coat things. I find that the more information the child has the more willing they are to do things. Prime example… I taught my sons to look at their arm when getting a shot. Have the issue is the surprise, if there is no surprise then it is just the initial pinch and it is over.