Explore Together (indoors): Skin Colors

  • camera
  • crayons (multicultural skin tones)
  • objects from Colors of Us (piece of caramel, cinnamon stick, apricot, etc.)
  • paints (multicultural skin tones)
  • paper
  • pencils
  • plastic plates
  • items named in the book (a piece of caramel, jar of cinnamon, apricot, etc.)
  • blend
  • color
  • darker
  • lighter
  • mix
  • shade

MA Standards:

Language/L.PK.MA.5.a: Demonstrate understanding of concepts by sorting common objects into categories (e.g., sort objects by color, shape, or texture).

Head Start Outcomes:

Science Knowledge/Conceptual Knowledge of Natural and Physical Worlds: Observes, describes, and discusses living things and natural processes.
Science Knowledge/Scientific Skills and Method: Collects, describes, and records information through discussions, drawings, maps, and charts.

PreK Learning Guidelines:

English Language Arts/Language 2: Participate actively in discussions, listen to the ideas of others, and ask and answer relevant questions.

Explore Together (indoors): Skin Colors

© Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Early Education and Care (Jennifer Waddell photographer). All rights reserved.

STEM Key Concepts: There are many different colors; A color can have many different shades (from very light to very dark); White paint mixed with a color makes a lighter shade of the same color; Black paint mixed with a color makes a darker shade of the same color; Two or more colors can be combined to make a new color 

ELA Focus Skills: Follow Directions, Speaking and Listening, Vocabulary 

Display multicultural skin-colored crayons and paints.

  • Examine them with children as you read and discuss the names on each label.
  • If available, use sample objects of color names to help children visualize the true color, for example hold up an apricot when discussing the apricot color. Ask questions such as,
  • Do you see anything in this room that looks like this “mahogany brown” crayon color?
  • This shade of brown is lighter than that shade of brown. How could we make the color a lighter shade of brown?

Tell children you want them to find the crayon (paint) that most closely matches the color of their own skin.

  • Explain that they might find a color that is close to the color of their skin, but not exactly; if so, have them gather a group of crayons to represent the mix of colors in their skin color.
  • Demonstrate for children by saying, This color is almost the color of my skin color, only it’s a little darker. If I wanted to make it more like my skin color, what colors would I need to mix (or blend) it with? Encourage children to demonstrate.

Allow children to freely explore blending their skin tones with the crayons or paints. Take photos, or allow children to take photos of their explorations.

  • When children have skin tone colors they are satisfied with, give them a square of paper to fill in with their skin color. Tell children they will take the square home with them.
  • Then give them a sheet of paper and help them trace one of their hands on it. Then, have them color in their hand by blending the crayons (or mixing the paints) until they match their skin color.
  • Encourage children to invent names for the color of their skin. Foods are often a good inspiration, for example, “milkshake brown” or “honey gold.” Help children write their color names on their work, using this sentence stem: <Katrina’s> skin color is called                 .

Reflect and Share Together
Review and enjoy the color names children have invented. Share the photographs of children's explorationsa and facilitate a discussion about their experience by asking questions such as,

  • Was it easy or difficult to match your skin color? Why do you think so?
  • If you didn’t find a color to match your skin color, how did you change it to make it match your skin tone more closely?

Then let children arrange their hand drawings from darkest to lightest in a display labeled “We Work Hand-in-Hand.” Take a photograph of the finished product.

Take It Further: Have children bring home the sample of their skin color they blended (mixed). Tell them to see if the skin color is the same as the color of members of their family. Remind children tht every family is different, some families have skin colors that are alike and other families have very different skin colors. 

Educator Tip: You may want to make color copies of the photo of the hand drawings and send it home with children.

Adaptation: For younger children or larger groups, or if you have limited crayons, create one large outline of a hand that children can work on together. Children can color individual squares of skin colors and glue them on to fill the outlined hand one or two at a time. Name it “The Colors of Us.”

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