Young children draw what they know - themselves, their families, hobbies, and favorite places. In elementary school, I recall a time when I was drawing myself but then was confused about what color to fill in for my skin color.
Was I brown? But I wasn't THAT brown. My skin isn't black, white, orange, or peach. I ended up using the brown crayon and coloring with it lightly to "achieve" my tan skin, as you see in the Teacher Model picture above.
Multicultural supplies are resources that can help children feel seen and represented at home and at school. I did not even know that these products existed until I became a teacher. Recently, I went to Walmart and I was SO excited to see the "Colors of the World" section. Before, I had gotten packs of the multicultural crayons with only 8 colors and now, Crayola has expanded to 32 total colors to cover multiple skin and eye shades.
I put together some links for you to view and purchase multicultural supplies for your home and/or school! I encourage teachers and family members with young children to add these into your collection of classroom and craft supplies.
If you are a new teacher, your school may reimburse the money that you spend out of pocket for your students and/or you can set up your own donation fund through DonorsChoose.
Links to Multicultural Supplies:
If you know of any People of Color businesses who are selling similar products, please comment below with their info. :)
During my first year of teaching, I was searching for resources to teach Khmer New Year in April for my students. I had to go through a lot of digging just to find two coloring pages - one was a Cambodian map with facts about the country and another was a Thai dancer which was the closest thing that I could find to a Khmer dancer.
I had my students color those pages, read the "The Cambodian Dancer," and shared about what my family went through during the time of the Khmer Rouge and why Khmer New Year is special to us. A few days later, I asked my mom to come in to talk to the students about how they fish and dance in Cambodia.
Growing up, I felt like my Khmer identity was invisible at school because it was not common to see peers and teachers with my background, and we surely did not learn about Cambodia in our American classrooms. That is why, as a teacher, I am passionate to tell my students about my family's culture, language, and history.
So far in my teaching career, I have had three students who are Khmer and I love seeing their faces light up every time I mention something about Cambodia or being Khmer. One student was so excited to share about his family during the war and went home to tell his Ma all about what he learned that day. I hope that my growing love and curiosity towards my culture will motivate my students to do the same, as many of them are experiencing the challenges I have faced as a child trying to balance having an Asian and American identity.
Learning about other different types of people is also highly beneficial for my non-Khmer students to develop empathy and understanding towards others. The world does not just revolve around the perspectives of white people.
Now, you may not be Khmer or a person of color, but you should still teach about our cultures, ESPECIALLY the cultures of the students in your classroom. In this blog section, I will create and curate resources to help you, from educators to families, teach about the Khmer community and other people of color communities because representation matters.
Feel free to comment any thoughts or questions, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am happy to collaborate with you!
Jasmine - or as my students call me... Ms. Nguon