Color Me Right
Multicultural education enters the world of school art with the introduction of the "Skin Tones of the World" crayon collection.
The assortment of sepia, apricot, tan, burnt sienna, peach, mahogany, black, and white is the result of an unusual collaboration between a school-supply company and the Binney & Smith Company, the makers of Crayola crayons.
"We found that teachers are asking for skin-tone colors," said Margaret Blumenauer, educational-product manager for Chaselle Inc., a Columbia, Md.-based school-supply company that specializes in multicultural products. Realizing the product's potential, the company consulted early-childhood educators and multicultural research and ultimately persuaded the Crayola manufacturer to let it test market the collection.
Except for black and white, the pigments originally were available only in the company's 64-color crayon set. The eight- crayon set, more popular with teachers because of its lower cost, contains only primary and secondary colors, making it impossible to produce subtle skin-tone shades.
The group of new hues was introduced during the convention of the National Association for the Education of Young Children in Denver this month. The new colors-available in regular size or jumbo size for smaller fingers- -were warmly received, Ms. Blumenauer said.
"Multiculturalism is a hot topic," she noted. "We saw a need for minority children to see themselves in their school work, even in the crayons they use, so they feel accepted and part of a group."
While the "Skin Tones" collection is not now available through retailers, sets may be ordered by calling 1 (800) 242-7355. --S.K.G.