What you need...
- A selection of different coloured pairs of socks (if you feel the need to buy new ones, here are some funky pairs)
- Enough fresh eggs to go around, a mixture of brown and white ones (if you can't find white chicken's eggs, duck eggs are generally white)
- Dolls of different races (Like these)
- Plates and forks
- Model of body organs, or a simple diagram
How to prepare...
Although this activity doesn't require much practical preparation, it is one which will benefit from some thought from you in advance. Talking about race and diversity is absolutely not something any early years professional should feel uncomfortable with, but it is a topic which is especially important to express well to children.
Here are a handful of things to think over when preparing for this activity:
- Prepare simple answers for some of the questions the children might ask, such as "What makes skin different colours?" and "Why do I get darker on holiday?". Being prepared for questions like these will avoid you being thrown when they come up, and will help make sure your answers are clear
- How will you respond if a child expresses inappropriate or prejudicial views? Whilst young children are inherently accepting, it is worth remembering that they are also little sponges who absorb words, phrases and views expressed by the adults in their life. Be ready to kindly and clearly respond if a child starts talking about what their grandparent says about black people!
- Have an honest look at the levels of diversity in your setting, and local community. Thankfully, racism is not the acceptable part of society that it once was, but many communities remain starkly lacking in diversity. If you work in a rural setting, with very few non-white members of the community, how will you make the idea of people of other races real to the children in your group? Equally, if you work in a setting which is predominantly used by families of a particular part of the wider community, do you need to think about who the children may know that is white?
Aside from this mental preparation, the practical side of things is very straight forward. Simply get a clear table ready, with all your bits and pieces ready close at hand to pass out amongst the group.
The activity process...
- Start the activity off by talking about the human body; let the children explore the model of the organs and/or ask them questions about the diagram. Talk about all the different things going on inside their bodies, and eventually ask each of them in turn what colour their blood is when they scrape their knee. Acknowledge that everyone's blood is red.
- Share out the dolls of different races, and again support the children to ask questions and share their thoughts. Talk about the fact that the dolls are different colours, and try to relate them to people the children know. Try not to feel uncomfortable acknowledging that different staff members look different, and have different colour skin for example. Relate this stage back to the first, helping the children to note that although people are different on the outside, inside they are all the same.
- Now it's time for the socks! Share out the socks, and let the children have fun putting them on. While they're doing this, repeat again the questions and learning about how the socks all look different, but they all have feet inside them. You can even extend this a little further to talk about how the colour of the socks doesn't change how good they are at keeping feet warm.
- Finally hand out an egg, plate and fork to each child. Ask the children what they think is inside the egg, and in particular what colours. Will the brown eggs look different inside to the white ones? Let the children crack into their eggs to find out, and again help them recognise that the colour of the shell doesn't change what's on the inside.
Throughout this activity it's important to answer children's questions honestly and directly. It is also vital that you encourage the children to recognise that the colour of someone's skin doesn't change who they are friends with, what they are good at, or how they should be treated.
Tracking the activity...
Aside from how this activity could be observed and tracked for individual children, be sure to keep a record of it as evidence of how you promote British Values in your setting. Perhaps you could make a display? For more information on promoting British Values in early years, take a look at our series of articles here.
30 - 50 months
Understanding the World, The World; "Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familiar world such as the place where they live or the natural world"
Understanding the World, People & Communities; "Knows some of the things that make them unique, and can talk about some of the similarities and differences in relation to friends or family"
40 - 60+ months
Understanding the World, The World; "Looks closely at similarities, differences, patterns and change"
photo credit: frankieleon <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/23307937@N04/5479670762">incredible and edible</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">(license)</a>
photo credit: designwallah <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/42536354@N00/50175977228">Breakfast for two</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>