Crayon Box Activity – Teaching Diversity to Children
Being exposed to different ideas, beliefs, personalities, abilities, and cultures has lead to some of my periods of greatest growth. It wasn’t always comfortable at first, but it has left me a fuller, kinder, and more empathetic person. In fact, motherhood has been was of my biggest lessons in diversity. My kids are a lot like me in some ways, but they also face distinctly different struggles that have taught me how to be a more open-minded and understanding human being. I wanted my kids to also know that different isn’t something we should avoid, but something we should seek to understand, respect, and appreciate. So I set up some activities for teaching diversity to children.
We all learn in different ways, so I tried to include several different activities that would appeal to a broad range of children.
Right now we are in the middle of the COVID-19 outbreak, so these are also great activities to do with your kids at home. This activity would also work well for Family Home Evening, Primary, home school, preschool, or kindergarten.
Teaching Diversity to Children Lesson
The Crayon Box that Talked
Begin by reading “The Crayon Box that Talked” or playing the video. The story focuses on a set of crayons who didn’t like each other until a little girl takes them home and starts to color with them. Upon seeing the bigger picture, they realize that they each play an important role.
Discuss how we are like the crayons. What are some of our differences? How do our differences make our lives better? What would be missing from our lives if everybody liked the same things, did the same things, and looked the same? What are some of the things the green crayon can do differently than the purple crayon? Point out individuals in your own lives whose talents and differences have blessed you.
Then choose one or more of the activities below to help illustrate the point.
Possible Diversity Activities
Diversity Crayon Drawing
Hand out pieces of paper and give each child only one color of crayon to draw with. Ask the kids to draw a picture of their favorite place. Afterward, talk about how their drawings would be different if they could use all the colors in the crayon box instead of only one. If interested, have the kids draw the picture again, this time using all the colors. Talk about the differences between their two drawings.
“What’s In Common” Game
This game works better with a larger group. Arrange chairs into a circle, with one less chair than the number of children participating. Have one of the children stand in the middle of the circle and share something about herself or himself. I have blue eyes, or I have been to Hawaii, or I like spaghetti…etc. Everyone who shares that thing in common has to get up and find a new chair, with the middle child trying to grab a chair as well. Whoever is left gets to be the middle child now and will share something. As the children share, talk about how wonderful the differences are and how even with differences, we share a lot of things in common.
Make Crayons From Molds
This is a fun way to use old crayons and a great way to show how beautiful it is when we mix together different colors. During the activity, you can talk about how each color adds to the overall crayon. And for the crayons to work, the colors have to learn to stick together! There is a great tutorial on how to make crayons from molds over at momalwaysfindsout.com. This was a great one for teaching diversity to children.
Make Crayon Pointillism Paintings
This activity works best for older kids because they will need to melt their crayon over a candle. To show how colors can work together, try your hand at a pointillism painting. This is a painting technique that uses small dots of color to form a larger image. When seen from a distance, the dots of color seem to blend together and form new colors.
Ladybug did her pointillism painting of her beloved guinea pig, Reepicheep!
I like to think about how another’s differences can often bring out different shades in ourselves that we hadn’t noticed before. For example, I always hated fantasy and science fiction until I met my husband. After sticking up my nose at it for a while, I finally decided to give “Lord of the Rings” a chance. Boy was I surprised! It was pretty good. And before long, I was reading Harry Potter!
You can get a wonderful set of instructions on how to do this with crayons over at blog.intellidance.ca. This was a little trickier than I thought it was going to be. Here are some of our tips:
- In the tutorial, they did it on a canvas, but I found that the wax had a hard time sticking to it. Instead, we had better luck with a very heavy card stock or cardboard. The grain of the paper helped absorb the wax. Just make sure the paper is thick enough not to warp.
- Start small. I used a small piece of paper and was glad I did. It takes a long time. Ladybug eventually resorted to melting the crayon and spreading it all over the place.
- Our candles would not stay lit. I think the wax from the crayon messed with the wick. We found it worked better if we could melt it from the side without the crayon wax dripping in.
- Cheaper crayons work better. I found that Crayola crayons work way better with the crayon molds, but the cheaper crayons that have more wax filler worked better with this project.
- It was really hard to keep the lighter colors clean. The smoke from the candle kept blackening our crayons. I never did figure out a great way to solve this problem. But I would often color with the crayon to get any black off so that it wouldn’t melt into the color.
Despite the challenges, we had a lot of fun with this one. We were busy working on our creations for over two hours. And it was really neat to see how they turned out. I think part of it was that my kids were excited that I was actually letting them play with fire. Haha! Don’t worry, they are older now and I was sitting with them the whole time.
I have found that for some kids, talking while they are busy with a project is a great way to connect. When teaching diversity to children, hopefully this will give you time for open conversations.