This week we introduced Nick, one of our persona dolls, to the children. For more information about Nick, you can read this blog that Laura wrote about Nick and the importance of persona dolls in our classroom. The children had lots of questions for Nick. One child asked,”Does Nick have a water bottle?” And another asked, “Why is he wearing overalls?” Many questions were aimed at trying to determine out how “real” he was. I said, “Nick is a doll, but he is a doll with a story. He is part of our community and we need to take care of him.” It did not take much convincing. Children began making connections with him as I told his story. “I have a mom!” “My hair is curly!” “I live in SE Portland!” “I like the park!”
Then ASY raised his silent candle and asked “Why is Nick’s skin so dark?” I took a breath and calmly responded, “Everyone has a different color of skin. Everyone has something called melanin in their skin. If the melanin in your skin is more active, your skin is darker. If your melanin is less active, your skin is lighter. Nick has more active melanin in his skin.” LF put her hand next to Nick’s and said, “Yeah, like me!” She held his hand in hers. At the end of circle, each child wanted a turn to hug or high five Nick.
We decided to go deeper into the question that ASY posed. What does make our skin different colors?
At circle today we read a book by Katie Kissinger called, “All the Colors We Are: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color.” The book provides simple and scientific facts about how we get our skin color. We get our skin color from three different things: Our parents and ancestors, the sun, and melanin. We also learned that melanin has a job. It’s job is to protect us from the sun. People with very fair skin can get sun burnt easily because their melanin is not very busy. We also read that a freckle is a place where there is lots of melanin. This prompted ER, who has lots of freckles, to proudly proclaim, “I’m Melanin Man!”
During explore time, I had a small group appointment to mix paint. The goal was to mix the right red, yellow, black and white paints to make our very own special skin color. We will continue with this project and use our special paints throughout the year.