Do Conversations About Race Not Come Naturally? Try This Craft With Your Kids
By Ella Cooper a.k.a. Mamma C
Photos © Ella Cooper
Jul 29, 2020
So, here’s the deal.
I don’t think there is one right way to talk to kids about what racism is — and the same goes for other tough issues.
That said, I’ve always understood the arts to be one of the best ways to invite parents and children alike to have a voice, show support and express feelings. Feelings are abundant during times of racial unrest and a concurrent global pandemic.
As you may have noticed, creating large posters and colourful signage is a great way to get a message across. At the start of the COVID pandemic, many families who were stuck at home posted drawings and positive messages in windows, like “You’re not alone! We’re in this together.” You may have even spotted painted rocks in your travels, made by kids to spread hope to anyone walking by.
The news has been challenging — read about how one mother felt hearing George Floyd call for his mama here.
These actions inspired my very own creative sign making activity — except for this one, I wanted to find a way to promote diversity, inclusion and anti-racism.
Just like you might with a sign for essential workers, you can place these posters in your windows or on an apartment bulletin. You can even put them up inside on a fridge door or wall. No matter where it goes, think of it as a way to inspire others and share the message that racism is not OK.
This all-ages creative activism activity can be done collaboratively or individually to offer a great first entry point to talking about racism, police violence and why people are protesting around the world.
Step One: Get To Know Yourself — and Research
Take a moment to breathe. Yes, breathe. First, I think it’s important to recognize why you might feel discomfort talking about racism and injustice with young ones.
Take a moment to sit with your feelings around what you’re seeing in the news. Whether you have experienced racism firsthand or have been complicit in or benefited from your privilege, it’s important as a parent to feel your feelings around this subject.
"Take a moment to sit with your feelings around what you’re seeing in the news."
I believe this is a good time to do some research so you feel better informed — this research process will also give you a sense of what and how much you’d like to share with your children, in a way that makes space for their feelings and questions.
Then it’s time to talk to them at a level that is suitable for their age and level of understanding.
Need some word prompts? This word cloud colouring sheet is a great place to start. Click the image below to print.
For example, when discussing racism with preschoolers, what they really understand is why it’s important for people to be fair and kind to one another. That no matter what we look like, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and from a place of love and kindness. Share the importance of treating people the way they want to be treated, and the importance of taking time to share and get to know new folks in their community.
If you're looking for some great books starring a person of colour, check out 8 kids books here.
There are so many great stories and videos on the theme, that if you’re uncomfortable talking, you can first read a children’s book that focuses on the issue in some way or watch one of the many videos that are out there — together.
Step Two: Brainstorm
Discuss your feelings together as a family and decide what you can write on your signs to spread messages of hope and solidarity.
Step Three: It's Art Time!
What you need:
- A really big piece of paper, bristol board, foam core or a piece of cardboard from a box
- Something creative to draw or paint with like markers, paints, crayons or pastels
- Painters tape so you can stick your sign up somewhere when it’s done
Some optional tools to help:
- A pencil and eraser (to draw out your idea before adding colour)
- Scissors to cut the cardboard
- Sparkles, stickers or other types of decoration for your sign
Now have fun, be creative. See if you can cover your signs with strong positive messages. Cover your signs with big letters so your words and colourful imagery can be seen. Invite your kids to make multiples to put in the window.
Have a kid that prefers to colour? Click on the image below to print out a great Black icons colouring sheet.
Those messages you brainstormed? It's time to try some of these ideas for your posters!
You can make and share a general message of love and support, or try writing the words "Black Lives Matter" with some creative flourishes — all of these ideas are great and would show support and provide inspiration to your neighbours.
Not sure of your spacing and painting skills? Here's a Black Lives Matter colouring sheet. Click below to print.
Some great prompts would be to ask your kids ways in which they believe people could be kinder. And then you can draw pictures or write the words down as ways to demonstrate how to be kinder and stop racism.
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