The Orange Project

The Orange Project

Submitted by Virginia Hanson and Jillian Sirany

The Orange Project is an annual activity at the Child Development Center aimed at helping young children learn to celebrate diversity. We want children to understand there are a lot of similarities among us, but there are also a lot of differences and those differences make each of us unique and very interesting.

We start our project by reading a book about race.  This year we chose a picture book called “Let’s Talk About Race” by Julius Lester, which points out how we are all different on the outside, and yet the same under our skin.  After reading the book, we gave each child an orange to decorate in whatever way they chose.  The children worked hard to give their orange a unique and interesting look. Once the oranges were fully decorated, we put them all in a bowl and put the bowl away.

Later in the day we pulled the bowl back out and asked each child to find their orange and tell the rest of us what made their orange special and unique.   We again discussed how we use our appearance, including skin color, to tell each other apart.  When the children were done showing off their oranges, they put them back in the bowl and then settled in to hear another book called “The Skin You Live In” by Michael Tyler. While the book was being read, a teacher was quietly peeling all the oranges out of view of the children.  After the book, the children were invited to find their orange again.  Imagine their reactions when they couldn’t identify their own orange because underneath the decorations and skin, each orange was the same!