As we prepared for our Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Celebration, my kindergarten class had many discussions about Dr. King. Students asked important questions about race, identity, and values. My hope is to create an ongoing dialogue with students where they can freely explore, express, and appreciate their uniqueness and beauty, amidst their similarities and differences.
Some of the questions my kindergartners asked were related to our study of Dr. King and hearing about the civil rights movement, but others came from daily experiences and interactions. Based on these questions, my teaching assistant Laura and I decided to create some explorations around themes of respecting diversity and celebrating similarities and differences.
We read books such as All the Colors of the Earth, We Are All Alike, We Are Different, The Colors of Us, and are reading many stories from different cultural traditions. We also have been looking at photographs of children around the world.
Students have also been studying and discussing their own and others’ uniqueness. One day in stations, after looking in mirrors, kindergartners drew self-portraits and created faces out of found objects. The faces conveyed a variety of emotions and cultures using a diversity of materials such as wire, buttons, bottle caps, old jewelry, and construction paper. This expressive medium helped to deepen the children’s understandings of themselves and others.
As a follow-up in art class with Laura, they made a recipe for their own special color used for a self-portrait. Here are their wonderful, expressive self-portraits: