Posted by: keepingthemistakes | January 12, 2011

We’re different, We’re the same

That is one of my favorite children’s books.  Oh, I have lots of favorites, but this one is a Sesame Street book, and it talks about ways we are different and ways we are the same.  It ends with a poem something like this (I wanted to use the book in class this week and can’t find it!):

A rainbow would be boring if it were only green or blue,                                   what makes a rainbow beautiful is that it has every hue.                                        So aren’t you glad you look like you?
We’re different, we’re the same . . .


This week my classroom focus has been on Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement.  I’m amazed and hopeful in the amount even my youngest grades already know about Martin (although when I asked what they knew about him, the first thing almost 100% of my classes said was that he got shot).   Kudos to the parents and teachers who have taught their children/students about this time in our history.

Anyway, I have worked to find projects that focus on accepting and celebrating both the things that make us the same and the things that make us different.   This is a topic that is especially near and dear to my heart, because my husband and I are different races, and our children are bi-racial.   I get choked up when we hear the “I have a dream . . .” speech or when I read excerpts of it to my classes.   I want every child to feel accepted and loved, regardless of their skin color, religion, socio-economic status, etc. 

This project

has been pretty cool.  I used my digital projector to enlarge a gray-scale picture of Martin.  I drew it on numerous 12 x 18 sheets of paper and then cut them in half, making about 27 puzzle pieces.  For the lesson we talked about skin tones– what makes us different colors, what those colors are (they are not “black” or “white).  I was going to mix each child’s skin tone, but decided there wasn’t near enough time for that.  So each table got a dark, medium and light tone — not all the same ones.  They had to discern which was dark, which was light, etc. and then they each painted in their puzzle piece.  I had marked the pieces as to which areas were dark, medium and light.  In a perfect world, the students would do all those things — from drawing the puzzle itself to deciding which areas would be which tone, but since I only see them 45 minutes a week, I did some of that prep.  I am so excited about how it turned out! 

I did this with fourth grade, and have two classes, so we did two portraits.  We watched the movie “Martin’s Big Words” prior to working on it, and I think I will make a border with some of his quotes to go around the outside of each one.  This project, and some from other grade levels, will be on display at a local celebration of King’s life next week.



  1. This is SERIOUSLY awesome, Beth! Coolest project yet. You’re a great teacher- you teach them about history, AND art! No wonder my daughter love art class so much!

    • Thanks Jody 🙂 I love teaching art, I really do! And your daughter is one of the reasons I love it so much!

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