This weekend my kids were hanging out with a bunch of friends and I was leading them in a group art project. It was a game left over from Amelia’s Wild Kratts-themed birthday party the week before, and I figured it would keep the crew busy while dinner was being made upstairs.
The game had two teams creating newly discovered animals during a Creature Adventure. The three seven year olds and the four four year olds divided into to teams to begin their projects. Each group was given a sheet of poster board, a box of primary colored markers, and a lunch bag that contained one-sentence clues that would help them create their animal. The seven year olds were in charge of reading the clues and the four year olds were in charge of putting caps back on the markers. Each teammate took a turn pulling a clue and drawing the characteristic described. The big kids did a great job coaching the little kids.
The clues said things like “This animals has crazy fur” or “This animals has wings”. Tusks, long legs, short legs, polka dots, and sharp claws were some other clues. As the different teams pulled out the clues in random order, it was fun to watch the two make believe animals take shape. There was lots of imagination being put to good use!
At one point, one of the four year old boys reached for a pair of markers that one of the seven year old girls deemed “girl colors”. She tried to hand him two different colors she thought were more appropriate, but his little lip started to quiver and tears sprang to his eyes.
“But but but I want peeeeeink and purble,” the little guy said, holding out is hand for the pink and purple markers, pushing the blue and green markers away with his other hand.
“Well, I think these are better for you because these are boy colors,” the older girl tried reassuring him.
“Peeeeink and purble, please,” he repeated, not wavering.
At this moment both of my kids, who were on opposite teams, said in unison, “Colors are for everyone.” All of the kids put their heads up to see what was going on.
“If our animals are totally new and never discovered before, do you think there is such a thing as girl colors and boy colors for them?” I asked.
The older girl smiled at me, then her eyes got big and she let out a big laugh.
“OH MY GOSH! I FORGOT!” she giggled, and handed the little boy the pink and purple markers. She watched him draw the animal characteristic from his clue, helped him with a question, and told him he did a nice job and gave him a hug.
Just a simple little reminder was all it took to put down any gender stereotypes and the kids went on being kids again.
As both teams finished their pictures I told them we would go out in the woods tomorrow and try to find animal tracks and that maybe we would find some that matched our new animals. The animals were fun to look at, and it was cool to see the beginning drawing skills of the four year olds compared to the more advanced skills of the seven year olds.
The next morning we were making a thank you sign for the owner of the cabin we had been visiting all weekend. Each of the seven kids was choosing a marker to sign their name. As 4yo Benny reached for a marker to sign his name, he chose pink. The older girl from the day before was standing by him and said, “Benny, your name looks nice in pink.”
“Yeah it does,” said Benny. “Pink is a breeally nice color.”
“All the colors are nice when they are together. Do you want to go outside now?” And off they ran.