When I was a kid, adults still frequently referred to the peach crayon as “flesh color.” Today, there’s no excuse for passing on to children such a narrow view of human diversity–both because we are in many ways more sensitive to issues of diversity and because there are some fabulous art supplies out there to solve the problem of the singular flesh-colored crayon.
Why this gift matters
Kids can learn pretty early on–by picking up on explicit and implicit signals from adults–how to view a society that is becoming increasingly diverse. It’s important to both be direct with your children about living in a multicultural society by working the topic into your everyday conversations and to model good behavior as a citizen of a diverse society. Arts and crafts are an excellent opportunity to have these kinds of discussions, as kids are relatively focused on a single task. Providing children with craft supplies designed with multiculturalism in mind makes it even easier to start these conversations–and lets you encourage your children to imagine the possibility of a vibrant world packed with interesting people from whose lives and experiences they might learn.
Here, then, are some recommendations for arts and crafts supplies that will let your children draw, paint, and craft people who better represent what they see in the world.
This isn’t a particularly deep book; it doesn’t consider, for example, the diversity of human experience. But what it does very, very well—especially for younger children, say preschool through grade 2—is highlight and celebrate the broad, beautiful spectrum of human skin colors. The children learn to think beyond black, brown, and white to colors reminiscent of honey, peanut butter, pizza crust, ginger, peaches, and chocolate. The message may be a bit heavy-handed for older kids, but the young ones will delight in the bright, lively illustrations and the comparisons of skin tones with familiar foods.
It is, in short, a terrific book to pull out right before digging into some multicultural craft projects. And for those projects, I recommend you get your hands on some. . .
How cool is this? These 50-sheet packs of paper come in ten creative shades that reflect the rich variety of skin color found in the world community. Awesome!
Although I’ve seen this product recommended for four year-olds and up, I must admit that it would delight many a three year-old. After all, most three year-olds can’t yet draw a human form, but many of them can draw faces, buttons, and other features. Older kids would enjoy pairing these with African textile paper, global designs textile papers, or the vibrant patterned paper pack. The human paper shapes kit includes 40 full bodies, 50 faces, and 35 each of hands and feet in a variety of skin tones.
This set of crayons is excellent for helping kids explore, in a very hands-on manner, ideas about self, family, and community. Because they are Crayola crayons, and not the cheaper waxy kind, you’re getting truer colors, smoother laydown, durability, and easy blending. The colors are mahogany, apricot, burnt sienna, tan, peach, sepia, plus black and white for blending. This set of crayons meets the artistic needs of today’s culturally diverse families, neighborhood circles, and classrooms.
Again, I can’t speak highly enough of Crayola’s products–their markers have stood up exceptionally well under the strain of my four year-old’s play, and their ink lasts far longer than any other brand I’ve used. This set of markers in eight skin tones is, unfortunately, difficult to find in stores–but it’s important, even critical, for students to have a full spectrum from which to choose when asked to draw themselves and their families.
Like the crayons and markers discussed above, these colored pencils provide opportunities for children to explore identity and diversity as they draw themselves, their friends, and their families. The pencils come pre-sharpened with thick, soft 3.3 mm leaders that don’t break too easily under pressure.
How terrific is this set of paints? As children in the primary and elementary grades are fond of depicting people, why not provide them with eight tints and shades that they can mix until they find just the right skin color to represent themselves and the people they know? Each bottle is eight ounces, so you’re getting 64 ounces of washable, matte-finish paint.
Now that I’ve provided you with an ample sampling of artistic media for portraying people in all their diversity, let’s take a look at some multicultural crafts that focus more on folk arts from different cultures.