Drawing Differences Program
Let's make art that looks like all of us!
EmbraceRace teamed up with three fantastic antiracist art teachers to produce Drawing Differences, a program designed to address the underrepresentation of diverse characters in children's drawings. Representation teaches powerful lessons about beauty, normalcy, and worthiness. Drawing Differences aims to encourage kids and their adults to create portraits that together feature people with different skin colors, hair textures, and facial features. While the program is aimed at kids from 8 to 11 years old, teachers, librarians, caregivers and others have modified it to use with younger and older children, too. (Follow these tips for using the lessons with younger children.)
The lessons are organized into affirmations:
- Introduction: We observe closely.
- Affirmation #1: We see color.
- Affirmation #2: We see individuals.
- Affirmation #3: We feel seen.
Introduction: WE LOOK CLOSELY
This introductory video introduces the theme of observation, or looking closely to notice, name, and draw differences between individuals — whether that's individual, unique trees or individual, unique people.
We have put together a starter guide with useful framing and tips families, educators, librarians and all caregivers engaging with the lessons for the first time.
Each affirmation section includes the following:
- An activity guide featuring specific ideas and suggestions for educators, families,
- An assortment of handouts and visual resources that support planning, creating,
and reflecting on the affirmation
- A video guide offering a kid- and adult-friendly overview of the featured
- A conversation tip sheet to help adults respond thoughtfully to children's
questions about race and physical differences
- A student-facing slide deck geared to teachers as an instructional tool
Affirmation #1: WE SEE COLOR
Children learn ways artists can mix colors to represent our vast array of skin colors. No need to run out and buy more art supplies. They can blend unique skin tones using tools that are likely available at home or in school. Three media—crayon, colored pencils, and watercolor paint—are explored.
Affirmation #1 Lesson Materials:
Affirmation #2: WE SEE INDIVIDUALS
Children are encouraged to notice how hair and facial features are similar and/or different with reference to curly afros, thick braids, straight bangs, head coverings, and tight fades, among other styles. They also see differences in sizes and shapes of lips, eyes, and noses.
Affirmation #3: WE FEEL SEEN
Children explore and draw diversity in community. They start by reflecting on paintings of various people by some popular, professional artists. They are then invited to a playful Portrait Party to draw family and friends in booklets.
Affirmation #3 Lesson Materials: