So Many Skin Tones!

Explore the diversity of skin tones around the world, and reflect on (and challenge) students’ perceptions about skin color.
Ages 8-10 / 30
min Activity
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Objectives

  • Watch a video about the diversity in skin tones around the world, and how people from different ethnic backgrounds can share the same skin tone  
  • Challenge perceptions around labels and meanings that they associate with skin color

Supporting Research

Researchers have identified the importance of using developmentally appropriate language to build children’s understanding of racial difference from an early age, while affirming all skin tones and cultures. During this activity, students will foster self-awareness as they reflect on their own identity, and collaboration and inclusivity as they recognize the importance of treating everyone with respect and kindness. 

To learn more about these skills, and how they promote students’ healthy growth and the development of empathy, please check out our Empathy Framework.

Materials

Activity Partners

Instructions

  1. Engage students in a conversation about race and ethnicity. You might say: "Race refers to a group of people who might share physical characteristics, such as their skin color, facial features, and hair type. Ethnicity refers to the culture, customs, and traditions that are shared by a group of people, such as language, religion, nationality, and heritage. In short, we inherit our race and learn our ethnicity." 
  2. Next, introduce skin color to students by using this language from "All the Colors We Are" by Katie Kissinger. You might say: “When we think about someone’s race, we may associate it with the color of their skin. Our skin tone comes from our family and how close we live to the equator, as well as melanin, which is ‘tiny grains of coloring’ in our skin. If we have darker skin, we have a lot of melanin. If we have lighter skin, we have less melanin. When we spend time in the sun, this can activate our melanin, making our skin darker.”
  3. Then, start a discussion about the diversity of skin color by watching this 4-minute video with your students. 

    After watching the video, engage students in a discussion by asking the following questions: 
    • What different skin tones did you notice among the people shown in the video?
    • Did you notice that people can have different ethnic backgrounds, but still share the same skin tone? Was this surprising to you? What does this mean in terms of how we associate skin color with race? (Note: Watch the video at the 1:29 mark to see an image of people that share the same skin tone color - Pantone 58-7 C)|
    • Did you see anyone in the video with a skin color similar to your own? How did this make you feel?
    • What is the biological basis of skin color? How is skin color an adaptation that reflects the geography and temperature of where we live and where our ancestors are from? ‍(Note: students may need to conduct research to learn more about this topic)
    • What labels and meanings do people associate with skin color? Why?
    • Why is it wrong to treat people differently because of their skin color? Have you ever witnessed someone being treated unfairly or discriminated against because of their race or skin color? How did it make you feel?
    • How can we build a community where everyone feels proud of their skin color and ethnic heritage? What steps can we take?

If students in both classes have individual devices (e.g., mobile phone, tablet, laptop, etc.)...

Use a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams which allows you to screen-share during a video call. 
One educator should set up the Kahoot! game and share the code with students in both classes by following this tutorial about using Kahoot! in a remote learning environment, and share their screen so everyone can follow along.

If students in either class don’t have individual devices...

Follow the same instructions above, with one educator starting the game and sharing their screen so both classes can follow along.  
Instead of students joining the game to answer the questions, they can hold up their fingers, call out their answer, or use a paper template to indicate their response.

If you prefer not using Kahoot!...

Use this document (Spanish version) to prompt students.