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Exploring Skin Colors

Choose and mix colors to match the color of your skin.


  • 2 or 3 packages of multicultural crayons or markers, depending on the number of children (8 per box, available from Crayola®)
  • a pencil, a sheet of paper

Key Science Concepts

  • There are many different colors.
  • A single color can have different shades from very light to very dark.


Encourage children to use descriptive color names such as mahogany, apricot, and tan; action words such as describe, mix, and paint; and science process words such as match.


Tell children they’ll be tracing an outline of their hand and coloring it to match their own skin color.

  1. Ask children to look at their skin. How would you describe the color of your skin? If children give responses such as white or black, encourage them to look closer and identify some of the different colors that combine to make their skin tone. For example, do they see brown, red, orange, yellow, and/or beige in their skin?
  2. Examine the multicultural crayons and/or paints together. Read and discuss the names on each label. Ask:
    • What things have you seen that are mahogany brown like this crayon?
    • Which crayon is closest to the color of a peach?
    • Which brown looks like the color of a teddy bear?
  3. Invite children to pick the crayon or paint that most closely matches the color of their skin. If they feel that the color is not close enough, encourage them to mix in other colors.
  4. When children have skin tone colors they are satisfied with, have them trace the outlines of their hands on sheets of paper, then color or paint the outlines. Encourage children to invent a name for the color of their skin. Foods are often good inspiration, for example, chocolate cake and honey gold. Help children write their color names on their artwork: My skin is ______.

Reflect and Share

Display children’s artwork. Review the color names children have invented. Write a poem together, using these color names as well as others. Use the book you read this morning, The Colors of Us, to inspire additional ideas. Your poem might begin:
We are the colors of (chocolate cake and honey gold),
(Of cinnamon toast and caramel crunch).