Diversity and Equality are becoming increasingly important topics in current times and will continue to be the main theme in our children’s development. Understanding these topics helps the kids to admire the difference in individuals, treat everyone with respect, and build the necessary skill to communicate/work with different people in the future.
Diversity is the differences between humans and what make us unique. It includes physical characteristics such as ethnicity, gender identity, disability, physical or mental ability, and intangible values such as class, culture, religious beliefs, language, and many more. Teaching children to recognize and respect individual differences is the cornerstone to promote diversity.
Equality is believing in the right of everyone to have equal treatment, and access to the same resources and opportunities. Inclusion is the practice that embraces both the concept of diversity and equality, by making sure that everyone is treated fairly and being respected regardless of their differences. An inclusive classroom is where students can feel a sense of belonging – knowing that they are loved for who they are.
Teaching children about diversity can start with letting kids know/explore unfamiliar cultures. Here are a few fun activities that children can both play/learn about the world around us:
I. Holiday – Every day!
- Take the nice shoes out. Put on your best outfit. Because it is a holiday today! We recommend researching, choosing, and enjoying festivals that represent the cultures of the world. Examples: Chinese New Year, Diwali, and Hanukkah. Celebrating the holidays from your students’ cultures is also an effective way to make them feel involved and proud of their roots.
- Dressing in traditional clothes of the culture chosen. Encouraging children to do the same on their holiday. Learning about the selected culture’s traditional clothing. Around the world figures are the writer’s favorite. They are chunky, soft, friendly-looking figures that are dressed in beautiful cultural outfits. They are great for creative play and are wonderful tools to let children know about the details of diverse cultural outfits.
- Serving food/snacks or letting children play with food set from the culture chosen. What is a party without food? Introducing kids to the foods of the world is a fantastic way for them to learn about different cultures, and food is just always a great theme. The Sushi Set (See picture below!) includes several types of sushi, and a wooden board so children can serve sushi to others. An excellent introduction to the famous dish of Japan.
- Making crafts of different objects that represent the chosen culture. The Tepee Craft Kit is a great tool to help educate children about the history of Indigenous people.
II. Fun, spontaneous ideas.
- These fun activities can be done anytime and will help children to develop empathy, and respect for other people.
- Play music from different countries: Select children’s songs, or famous songs with relaxing/positive messages from different countries. The songs can be played in the background while students work or have fun. Encourage them to take part in the playlist and put in their own recommendations! Introduce children to different musical instruments of the world. Multicultural Rhythm Set includes musical instrument toys from various South American countries, and we are sure that it will keep the atmosphere always festive!
- Arts of the world: Art is a fascinating topic and always will be. Explore dances, paintings, literature, and other forms of art around the world.
- Use the bulletin board: decorate the bulletin board with information about a distinct culture: images of locations, simple words of the natives, food pictures, events, and locations on the map. Change the bulletin board monthly to a different culture for more variation. Crayola Holiday Series is a great fit for these activities as they have colours that relate to symbols, and customs of the holidays around the world such as Chinese New Year, Christmas, Cinco de Mayo, Diwali, Halloween, … Let the young ones have the joy of decorating the bulletin board!
- Play Trivia: After learning about different countries, it is time to test students’ knowledge. The key to every trivia is fun, so make sure to hand out prizes for correct answers to increase friendly competition! Around the world paper collection is a complete set of gorgeous papers that include 48 unique patterns in African, Indigenous, Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and Australian Aboriginal cultures. A compelling prize for students who like crafting, decorating, or collecting cultural pieces.
- Games from around the world: Research and introduce children to international games, from board games to outdoor activities.
III. Equality – Start from the classroom first.
- Teaching children about Equality from an early age is a wonderful way to help them build valuable traits such as empathy, love, understanding, and consideration for other people.
- Pronounce & remember classmates’ names: Try to encourage students to practice saying and remembering their classmates’ names correctly. This activity will help children build relationships and make the classroom environment more inclusive.
- Increase awareness about other countries’ living standards: Using the Explorer Globe to teach children about world problems. Let one volunteer point to any country in the world and spend time learning about that country’s living standards. Do people have access to school? Do they have access to food, and clean water?
- Let children know about organizations that are dedicated to bringing equal opportunities to everyone such as World Education – a non-profit organization that improves people’s lives through education, social and economic development. This is a great introduction for children to social studies – the study of people in relation to each other and to the world in which they live.
- Depending on the ages of the children, explain to them the idea that not everyone is equal in the world, and each of us can contribute to a better society by treating everyone around us equally.
- Bring your culture to the classroom: Give students an assignment to bring an item/items that represent their culture to the classroom. Then have them present in front of the class about the item and why it is important to the chosen culture. If students cannot bring an item, have them make a presentation about what they are most proud of in their culture. It can be anything: arts, food, traditions, …
- Guest speaker: Invite people from other cultures to come to the classrooms and share their experiences. Children will be fascinated by the stories, the traditional outfits, the difference in customs, and of course, the languages. Kids will also learn about different living situations, and sometimes even the feeling of the individual when being discriminated against. It will be an unforgettable and thrilling experience for them!
IV. Using tools/objects that promote inclusion in daily learning.
- Diversity and Equality do not need to be reminded of or taught daily. We recommend using products that represent different races in daily teachings to let the idea implement seamlessly.
- Playtime can also be both educational and fun! We have a range of dolls from different races to choose from. Female Doll, Indigenous is a good option to let children play with and let them get used to different races of people. Possible Family is also our line of products that include sets of family figures from various races that enable several types of imaginative scenario play.
- While teaching children about emotions and feelings, we recommend using Children’s faces from around the world puzzle. It includes award-winning photos that depict children from different races showing various emotions. It is a great tool to learn about emotions and introduce children to different faces and features of people.
- Introduce children to different careers using Multiethnic Career Puppets. These puppets depict multiethnic men and women in non-sexist career roles, so children can learn about jobs without prejudice and discrimination.
- Around The World Set includes 48 beautiful pieces that replicate iconic landmarks of the world such as Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower, Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty, Pyramids of Giza. Let the young ones be mesmerized by some of the world’s greatest civilizations, as well as teach them that each culture has dazzling treasures to be proud of.
- Indigenous Peoples of Canada Book helps educate children about First Nations in Canada. This book specifically looks at the Cree, Anishinaabe (Ojibway), and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), and also includes an educator’s guide to teaching Native Studies in the classroom.
- Reach Across the World Rug is big, comfortable, and has drawings of 20 children dressed in cultural outfits, with the world map in the background. Not only does it look charming and delightful, but it can also be a great tool for teachers to bring the idea of diversity to children. “Many countries, many children, but only one world” is the message.
Learning about Diversity and Equality should be a delightful and stimulating experience, as kids get to discover the beauty and uniqueness of distinct cultures and learn how to treat people fairly. Encourage students to have open conversations – about topics such as living standards, various customs of people, or simply the question of why each of us is so “different” from another. Take them on a journey to explore the beauty of cultures around the world: food, landmarks, arts, and let them know that every culture in the world is beautiful and full of pleasant surprises. Make the classroom an inclusive environment where everyone is valued by their opinions, background and teach children to treat everyone equally.