Today’s “En la Clase” is our last in a series of featured early elementary lesson plans on topics such as teaching about race, culture, difference, acceptance, and respect. If you missed them, be sure to check out the last two weeks’ posts on “Everybody is Unique: Teaching Respect in a Racially Diverse Classroom” and “Multiculturalism: Learning About Different Cultures.”
This week’s unit, “Celebrating Differences and Similarities: Exploring Identity,” was written by Michelle White, a pre-service teacher in UNM’s Teacher Education Program. Her lessons were written primarily for kindergarten students, but could be easily adapted for grades 1-3. Like the other units, White’s lessons are perfect for the first part of the school year, offering an introduction to themes and issues that can continue to be explored through the year. Written as they are, the art activities are also great practice for our young students on following directions.
White’s lessons combine two of my favorite things: reading and art. As school art programs continue to be cut back or eliminated from school altogether, units like this become all the more important. Through a series of reading and painting activities, the lessons encourage students to think about what it means to be a community and how to celebrate diversity. Through reading books like Shades of People by Shelly Rotner, The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf, and Whoever You Are by Mem Fox (which is now available in English and Spanish) students examine the similarities and differences within their classroom community. The books are integrated into some great art activities that students will love. They get to create their own self-portrait along with a classroom representation of Kandinsky’s Concentric Circles. Both of which would be great to display for fall Open Houses or Parent-Teacher conferences.
Check out the pdf of White’s complete unit here (correlated to appropriate Common Core Standards).
Feel free to share any of your own ideas or comments below. We’d love to hear them! And, if you do any of these activities in your classroom–share the pictures with us!! We absolutely love to see children’s art in school!