Antibias Activities for Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
The children will visually and verbally compare and contrast the skin of dolls as they bathe them and care for them.
The children will participate in language enrichment when they enjoy talking about and comparing skin tones in a non-judgmental way. ,
The children will participate in a multi-sensory experience that integrates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning for optimal brain development as well as fun.
The children will experience the chance to see, hear and absorb antibias attitudes being modeled by providers and parents participating.
This is an activity that children really love. In fact, they love it so much that you may have a hard time getting them to stop. At the end of this description, you'll find some hints to make stopping easier on you and them.
Sensory water table or individual dish tubs with a few inches of water
a few drops of dish soap
baby dolls with varying skin colors and ethnicities
sponges, washcloths and brushes
Make sure each child has enough personal space and there are enough dolls and other materials to allow them to play without having to think about losing stuff to another child or not getting a turn with a coveted item.
Talk about the doll's skin as they bathe them. Discuss the way it feels and the way it looks non-judgementally. Welcome conversations about skin color. If a child starts to get negative, correct them by saying simply that good people come in all colors.
Encourage them to talk about people they know including family members and talk about their skin color freely. Speak positively about deeper and lighter tones, browns, blacks, olives, shades of red, yellow, and beige. Encourage them to compare their own skin to their friend's skin and the doll's skin.
Let the children take their time with this activity and provide dry towels and blankets when they're finished. Compare your own and the children's skin colors. (Derman-Sparks 2020)
Comment often that good people come in all colors, shapes, sizes, genders, etc.
since sensory activities are so engaging for young kids, I have a couple of tips that may help when it's time to clean up
Have the kids stand on some old towels in case some water spills
Give a 5-minute warning about stopping and set a timer. (visual and auditory if possible)
After the timer goes off, ask the children to help you get the water out. They can help tip the tubs or pull the plug out of the table and watch the water go into the ground, a bucket or a drain. Kids are so fascinated that they often forget that once the water's gone, it won't be there to play with. The result is that they realize it's over in a more gradual and therefore acceptable way.
Remember to wave and say bye-bye to the water as the last of it leaves the tub. Then notice what a good job they've done of finishing up without whining and remind them that they'll be playing with water again soon.
Books To Be Repeated Often
The Colors Of Us by Karen Katz
Shades Of People by Shelley Rotner
All The Colors We Are by Katie Kissinger
Want more antibias activities for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers? Click here!
Derman-Sparks, Louise, et al. Anti-Bias Education for Young Children & Ourselves. National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2020.
Nanci J Bradley is an early childhood and family educator, author, teacher, family aerobics instructor, and all-around fun-loving person. She believes in the power of sleep, healthy eating, lifelong learning, and most of all, PLAY! She studied early childhood ed at Triton College and received her BS in education in 1986 from NIU. She received her MA in human dev from Pacific Oaks College in 2011. She lives and teaches in Madison WI and is the founder of early childhood rocks, a non-profit org dedicated to creating change through early childhood education.