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  • Nicola Colman

Self identity and diversity

Resident Artist Naomi tells us about their exciting new topic

"This week we have started exploring an exciting new topic in the art room. Self identity and diversity, the children are looking closely at what makes them special and what makes them different from their friends. This idea blossomed from a conversation one of our preschoolers had with a practitioner, about why they both had different colour skin and whose skin was darker.

I started out by providing a tinker table for the children, this comprised of a basket and bowls full of small parts, wood slices and CD's. The idea of this was to set up an area that invited the children to exercise their brilliant imaginations and use a range of different materials to create a portrait of themselves or a loved one. The children were very inventive with how they used the materials and produced some amazing representations of people. Most chose to make themselves, while others made "mummies and daddies".

"It's my daddy he has no hair"

"My daddy has a beard and mummy, she has yellow long hair"

"It's me I have two cheeks"

"It has a moustache"

"My mummy, she has long legs and a nose"

"My hair is curly"

"It's my mummy, she has eyes a nose and a mouth"

"It's my mummy, she smiles"

The children also had the opportunity to draw self portraits whilst looking in a mirror. This gave them a chance to really examine their unique features in great detail. As the children drew their masterpieces, they commented on things they noticed such as, eye colour, skin tone, if they had straight or curly hair, etc. It was almost like they were noticing these things for the first time and it was very interesting to listen to and watch. This activity was enjoyed so much, that I introduced a table in the art room where a single child could sit down and spend as much time as they wanted drawing a portrait. This opened a whole new world of detail and the portraits really came to life. They had freckles, individual strands of hair, eye lashes, pupils and even holes in the ears.

"My face is browner than yours, but not too brown"

"I've got blonde hair so I'm going to use yellow"

"You have little holes in your ears so you can hear"

As the week progressed the conversations started to lean towards the shapes of their bodies, on one occasion four of the children lined themselves up in height order and noticed that just because you are older doesn't mean you are taller. This then naturally progressed into the children making shapes with their bodies and even singing songs about them. I was serenaded with "head, shoulders, knees and toes" on many occasion.

"I feel brave when I dance"

"It makes me happy when I dance with friends"

"You dance like a ballerina"

Finally I introduced the story stones into the art room, with which the children could make up funny faces. Some children found it funny to place the stones against their own faces and get me to take a picture, so they could see. While others then went onto use the full-length mirror to see what kinds of faces they could pull".

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