There are a few undeniable facts in this world. The sky is blue. The human race comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Kids love getting messy. Chocolate is the best ice cream flavor.
Okay, that last one might be a little subjective, but you get the idea.
One of the easiest ways to keep messy kids entertained is to set them up with an arts and craft project. It is also a fantastic opportunity to help teach kids about inclusivity and diversity, regardless of their age. Here are a few of our favorite ways to make your kid’s crafts more inclusive.
The world is big, but we spend so much time in a small space that it’s easy to forget that not everything on Earth is the same as it is in your neighborhood. Explore arts and craft ideas from around the world. Not only does this help to change your perspective a little by broadening your horizons, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to start a discussion with your kids about the lives and cultures of the people who live there. Start each craft as a lesson, and make it into a conversation. Don’t just find something that looks pretty on Pinterest and try to copy it. Instead, learn the history of each project, as well as its cultural significance.
Yes, we know that people will shoot down this suggestion as cultural appropriation, but it’s nothing of the sort. Appropriation takes aspects of the culture and uses them for your own aesthetic or personal interest. What we’re doing here is cultural appreciation — trying to learn more about another culture as a tool to broaden your perspective. Kids won’t know the difference, but it can be an invaluable tool to help them learn about the world around them.
Stop Thinking Pink
Skin tones in art supplies, for the longest time, have been various shades of pink and tan. Anyone who has picked up a box of Crayola crayons in the past few decades can attest that these don’t even match the Caucasian demographic that the brand was targeting. People come in so many different colors and shades it would be nearly impossible to put them all in a box of crayons, but that hasn’t stopped brands from trying.
Crayola released their Colors of the World Series in 2020, containing 24 different colors designed to represent 40 skin tones found around the world. Sculpy, the well-known polymer clay brand, has a Living Doll series that offers a variety of professional quality clay products in different skin tones. The options are there. You have to be willing to buy new supplies that help make their craft projects more inclusive.
Choose Accessible Crafts
Inclusivity isn’t just about the color of someone’s skin or the country they call home. It is also about learning how people might be different from us in other ways. According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States alone live with a disability, but they can affect people of all ages. Maybe one of the children in your child’s circle of friends lives with a motor disability, or perhaps you need something that will be good for all ages, regardless of their gross and fine motor skills.
If this is the case, opt for some easy or more accessible crafts, like using large chalk or pastels, or painting with textured surfaces like egg cartons or sliced apples, to ensure that everyone can have fun and participate in these crafts.
Share Your Identities
Have you ever sat down to think about what makes you, you? Maybe it’s the skin color, your eyes or your hair. Perhaps it’s your religion or your job or the people you associate with, or any of a million other variables that, when added together, make you the person you are today. Share this exercise with your kids. Draw a self-portrait. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to capture the things that make you unique.
Once your self-portraits are done, look at each other’s projects. How are they similar. How are they different? This can be the perfect opportunity to start a conversation on how people can be different from you, but they are no less important or worthy of love. Diversity and inclusivity can be tricky topics, especially for kids, but it is more important than ever.
Make The World Colorful
The world is full of good and evil, of light and darkness. Turn on the news, and it’s easy to drown in all the bad things happening in the world. Instead of focusing on the negative, we can make the world a brighter place. Make the world colorful, and teach your kids about diversity and inclusivity from a young age. If we can teach the new generation to stop judging people based on the color of their skin or the country that we call home, the world will be a better place.