Millions of students and educators across the country have returned to the classroom with high hopes of success, growth, and excitement. To support them, we chose All Are Welcome – a picture book by Alexandra Penfold and Suzanne Kaufman – as the focus of our back to school campaign to help the First Book Community of educators create a welcoming environment to help kids feel comfortable upon their return to school.
From arts and craft projects that inspire students to own their uniqueness to conversations of diversity and inclusion, several educators have used All Are Welcome to create opportunities for students to celebrate inclusivity within their community.
Arts and Crafts Inspiration
“As a kindergarten teacher at a school with a very diverse population, it is important for me to ensure our students and their families feel welcome and that their different cultures are honored. One way we do that is by ensuring that the children authentically see themselves in our classroom,” said Carolyn Matson, a Kindergarten teacher in Ottowa, Ontario.
Matson used All Are Welcome as a springboard to help students identify variations in skin color by creating a multicultural poster filled with paint swatches of the skin tones of each student in the classroom.
“By looking carefully at our skin color, we could see both dramatic and nuanced differences,” said Matson. “Asking the children to look closely allowed them to slow down and really observe… and often we would see the children go up and look carefully with a friend, comparing and contrasting and naming the colors. An added bonus for sure!”
Some educators have taken arts and craft elements from the book and applied them to their own schools, like creating yarn hearts on school fences, which expresses messages of love and acceptance to the outside community.
Many educators have have used All Are Welcome as a vehicle to start a discussion.
Facilitating a Conversation
“Usually, my sincere questions are met with the mumbled version of ‘I don’t know,’ or silence. Not today. So many of the kids were open to weigh in on the causes,” said Ro Menendez, First Book community member and school librarian at a Title 1 school in Texas.
Such dialogue encourages students to resolve the everyday challenges that once slowed their educational progress and urge them to apply these concepts in their own community to spread the idea that “All Are Welcome” everywhere. Students now better connect with their peers in spite of their many distinctions, uplift them in the classroom and community to help them feel acknowledged, heard, and understood, and realize that their differences are what truly brings them together.
How have you used All are Welcome in your classroom? Tag us on Twitter with the hashtag #WelcomeAllKids with a description of your activity!