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Celebrating Skin Color…..With Paint!!!!

Happy Martin Luther King Day!  To celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as a peacemaker, this week’s activity explores skin color.   Along with discussions about his life and work, we enjoy this meaningful project of creating our skin color with paint!  The purpose is to look at the differences in one another and appreciate our individual beauty.   The process includes experimenting with color mixing until each child’s skin tone is matched.  The end result is a portrait of the group, class, or family; showing the differences in skin color, hair color, eye color, and clothing.  

Celebrating Skin Color with Paint

Before presenting this project, I like to talk to the children about skin.  I point out that people are not white or black, but that we are all various shades of brown.  Even within our family (twins included) our skin tones are different.  Within the least diverse groupings, differences can be found.  In preparation for this project, we read books about skin color and kindness.  Some of my favorites are: All Kinds Of People, Children Like Me, Black Is Brown Is Tan, We Are Different, We Are The Same, Whoever You Are, The Skin You Live In
  • 4 containers for paint
  • 1 container or tray for mixing colors per child
  • washable, child-safe paint in red, blue, yellow, and white
  • 4 paint brushes, one for each color- plus 1 for a mixer
  • clean water in a large cup or glass
  • baby wipes or a sink for hand washing
  • pure white paper, sized appropriately for the group
  • cardboard or plastic, with a circle cut out.  (this will serve as a stencil)
  • crayons, markers, colored pencils, or oil pastels (any or all of these)


Show the children how you match your skin tone.  On the mixing tray, add a little of each primary color.  Mix until a brown appears.  Add white until it matches your own coloring.  You may need to add more of a primary color until it matches, that is the fun part!  To test, put a little bit of paint on the back of your hand.  Ask the children,  “Is this my skin color?”  


Let them explore with their colors.  It will take a while for everyone to match up.  The mixing trays will have a lot of paint on them from experimenting; keep that paint for the group portrait.
Show the child how to use the circle-shaped stencil to paint a head.  Allow the time for each child to place themselves on the group paper.  
Once the paint dries, allow each child to decorate themselves by adding facial features, hair, and clothing.  


Display proudly!

Jessie is a mother of three beautiful daughters (twin tots & a preschooler), an AMS trained Montessori teacher of 40 students, and a wife to one. Jessie has a background in dance, a yoga certification, and a Masters in Early Childhood Education. Jessie has a childhood education blog at

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day | Holiday Favorites

Monday 20th of January 2014

[…] Celebrating Skin Color Learn how to teach kids more about different skin colors using paint. […]

Deb @ Living Montessori Now

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

This is such a great activity! I just had to feature your post and photo again, Jessie ... in my Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity post at

Jody @ Mommy Moment

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

Thanks for including a post from Mommy Moment Deb :)

Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity |

Tuesday 9th of July 2013

[...] Inspiration for Martin Luther King Day,” you’ll find some wonderful activities such as Celebrating Skin Color with Paint Activity by Jessie from The Education of Ours at Mommy Moment and Collaging Kids Around the World from The [...]

Montessori Monday – Montessori Inspiration for Martin Luther King Day |

Monday 21st of January 2013

[...] Celebrating Skin Color…..With Paint!!!! by Jessie from The Education of Ours at Mommy Moment [...]

Deb @ Living Montessori Now

Monday 16th of January 2012

Such a great activity, Jessie! I featured your post and photos in my Montessori Inspiration for Martin Luther King Day post at