According to the Anti-Defamation League, it is during the preschool years that children first notice the physical aspects of identity. At the age of 2, for example, children become increasingly curious about skin colour. By the age of three, they begin to expand their observations and seek answers to their questions. Consequently, teaching children about diversity should be a standard part of the preschool curriculum and easily can be introduced with a series of games and activities.
Other People Are Reading
Story of My Name
This activity from Wilderdom is well-suited as a method of promoting social interaction as well as developing identity and respect for others. Start with the class sitting in a circle. Have children take turns to tell the rest of the class their name, where it comes from and, if possible, what it means. (It is helpful to have the teacher start first.) The greater the diversity in the classroom, the better this activity will work. It can be extended to include nicknames and to have them work in pairs and then introduce each other to the rest of the class.
This activity from Preschool Rainbow introduces children to other countries and cultures. The teacher begins by choosing the country she would like the class to visit, such as Egypt or China. Spend one lesson learning about its culture so that children can identify a costume or prop belonging to that country, such as a beret from France or chopsticks from China. Next, the teacher takes a photograph of each child wearing or using their prop. Glue the picture into an individual paper booklet that can now be used as a passport for learning about other cultures and countries.
Skin Color Match-Up
To promote diversity, complete this activity from PBS with your students. You need a selection of stockings in different shades -- tan, white, pink and black. As a class, encourage children to try them on their hands or arms. Ask questions to increase their awareness, for example, "Can you find a stocking that matches your skin?" Or, "What colour is that stocking on your arm?" Explain to children that no person's skin colour is really pink, white or black, and emphasise that skin colours are much more complex and interesting.
Story time can also be used to promote diversity and multiculturalism in your preschool classroom. The story of Rosa Parks, for example, introduces children to the concept of civil rights and can be linked to a social studies lesson. Show children a photography of Rosa Park, and explain how black people were expected to give up their seats for white people. Tell children that Rosa Parks wanted things to be different and that the law eventually was changed. Expand on story time by acting out the famous bus scene, and encourage children to direct the actions and words themselves. Talk about how Rosa and other characters, such as the bus driver and police officer, acted and might have felt.
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