Skin-Tone Matters

I'm thankful today to Angela Griffin, a former first-grade teacher at our school, for this engaging diversity lesson that she created after one of her firsties was asking questions and trying to understand just what skin color is all about. (We miss you, Angela!!)


• Learners will discover the unique differences among skin tones and will recognize that differences are found in each of us and that those differences make us special.

• Learners will use adjectives and imagery to create names for their individual skin tone.

The Colors of Us by Karen Katz 
• Crayola Multicultural paint set
• Paintbrushes
• Plate (for mixing paint)
• Posterboard/Construction paper
• Markers
• Writing Paper

1. Read The Colors of Us by Karen Katz.
2. Discuss the vivid adjectives used to describe the characters' skin tones. Discuss the varying nuances of each skin color revealing that no two skin colors are alike, and that each are beautiful and unique.
3. Call each student to the front, one-by-one, to reveal their own special skin color. To do this, make a palette of the Crayola multicultural paints on a plate. The names of the paint shades include: bronze, peach, taupe, etc. For each student, create a distinctive assortment of the paints that match their skin tone. You can match the paint directly onto the top of their hands. 
4. Once an exact match has been created, place a small spot of paint on the poster board or construction paper. Write the child's name above the sample.
5. Together, create a name that describes what that child's color is. For example, creamy peanut butter, cotton candy, double fudge, honey, pumpkin pie, etc. Write the name underneath the color sample.
6. When every student has created their unique color and color name and it is presented on the poster, your finished product is a collection of both fascinatingly-diverse skin tones and brilliant names to describe them.
• End your lesson with a discussion of student discoveries. Discuss the differences in each of the skin tones and reflect on how everyone is different, but shares a common thread of beautiful appearances.
Allow students to write sentences describing their own unique skin tone. Include painted illustrations. Put them together for a class book or onto a class bulletin board.


  1. I love this lesson. Thanks for sharing. Another book I would recommend is The Skin You Live In as it also has a cute way of skin tones---pumpkin pie spice. coffee and cream skin, spun sugar sweet skin, chocolate chip double dip sundae supreme skin, lemon tart bold skin etc.
    Beautiful pictures too.

  2. Good Morning, Barbara:
    I am wishing you a happy Back to School Day today!
    BTW, several of my lessons for today are from YOU!
    Sending you JOY, Friend!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  3. Great lesson - I will share it!

  4. Barbara!!! I'm so glad that you were able to get this post and brilliant suggestions linked up to our blog hop unfurling at my blog!!!

    This is so cute..... but beyond cute, it is also such a springboard for such an important topic. I want some close up photos from the kids work. (I'm like that, ya know. Wanna see things up close and personal.)


  5. Thank you so much for sharing about this book and the lesson!

    First Grade Magic


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