Friday, May 17, 2013

Anti-Bias Activity:

My Family comes From...

"Culture is a powerful force that shapes our lives. Culture is who we are on the inside. It is the set of values, beliefs, and behaviors shared by a group of people. Culture gives us roots. Cultural traditions give our lives meaning, stability, and security. Culture is dynamic and alive, and it changes slowly over time. Culture is transmitted through families from one generation to the next" (York, Pg. 60).

"My Family comes From..." is an activity for children ages 3 and up. It focuses on the identification of one's own culture, identification of other children's home cultures, recognizes the concept of homelands, and explores the similarities and differences in family structures and home languages. I chose this activity because during the preschool years, children form many ideas about the world that will stay with them for their entire lives.  For this reason, it is very important to teach from a multicultural perspective. Teaching diversity means helping children understand that people come in all types of shapes, sizes, colors, and family structures and it is these difference that makes each one of us special for who we are. Not only does this activity help highlight each child's individual identity, it also helps build acceptance for the diversity they come across throughout their lifetime in school and within their community.

According to the Roots & Wings textbook on page 188, this anti-bias activity is appropriate for preschool aged children because it allows children to actively explore their own cultural backgrounds, as well as others, by interacting with a variety of people.  This activity does not teach the children about facts on a particular country or historical concepts, but allows them to explore the cultural identities of themselves and the children they interact with on a daily basis.  They are exposed to similarities and differences and also learn about the daily lives of people they know.  They can learn the concepts of culture and family structures, as well as understand the importance of equality and respect.  

"My Family comes From..." contains a variety of themes including Families, My People, Changes, and Communication. This activity includes many of the concepts that are listed from the handout, "Multicultural Concepts Young Children Can Understand".  It teaches children that everyone is worthy.  Allowing each child to explore their own cultural identity and share their cultural background in a book for others to see, provides them a feeling of self-worth and pride in who they are.  This in turn allows them to accept diversity in others.  This activity also shows children that families live in different ways.  Learning about differences in family's daily activities, eating habits, language, and cultural customs allows children to expand their understanding of the many lifestyles and customs that are present in today's society and also gives them the understanding that these differences are acceptable and encouraged.  The "My Family comes From..." activity also provides the concept that culture comes from parents and families.  Children can begin to compare and contrast their traditional family values with those of the other children and begin to understand why they do things the way they do and learn where these customs and traditions originated from.  Learning about the foundation in which ones family originates helps in the development of a child's self awareness and understanding of diversity at much larger scale.

"Culturally relevant activities strengthen children's connections to their family and home culture." (York, Pg. 191)

The "My Family comes From..." activity addresses many of the goals for an anti-bias curriculum. "Multicultural education provides children with a message that it is all right to be different, differences are good, and people deserve to choose how they want to live" (York, Pg. 134).  In turn, this activity integrates the goal to learn to recognize, appreciate, and respect the uniqueness, beauty, value and contribution of each child.  This activity also incorporates a human relations approach, which focuses on teaching children how to make and maintain good relationships with children of different ethnic groups.  It helps in addressing the goal of fostering self awareness, positive self-esteem, communication skills, and social skills (York, Pg. 132).  This activity also associates with a single-group studies approach.  This method is based on the belief that knowing oneself is the beginning of understanding and accepting others (York, Pg. 133).  The "My Family Comes From..." activity institutes the goal of global awareness and learning and appreciating other diversity within cultures. 

How to incorporate the "My Family Comes From..." Activity to your classroom


  • Colored construction paper (12 by 18 inches)
  •  hole punch
  • yarn
  • felt tip pen
  • photographs of children's families  


For this activity you will help children make a book to record his/her family history and culture.  Ask family members to send in pictures of the child, parents,  grandparents and extended family members to include in the book.  The book can also include information such as which family members came to the United States, what country they came from, languages spoken at home, simple words or greetings in their family's home language, favorite foods, and customs practiced at home.  Each page could also include drawings and responses to the following questions:
  • Who are your people?
  • What's the name of your ethnic group?
  • Which ancestors came to America?
  • When did they come here?
  • Where did they come from?
  • What languages does your family speak?
  • What are your favorite foods?
  • Which foods do you eat most often?
  • What are some cultural customs practiced in your family?
  • How do you feel about your culture?
  • What do you like best about your culture?
Variations of this activity include collecting information about families by asking parents to fill out a family questionnaire or even invite family members, such as grandparents, to the classroom.  Ask them to bring in an item from their home culture, tell a story, or teach the children how to prepare a traditional cultural dish.  I have also discovered a few books you can read to the children that focus on cultural diversity.  

"Char Siu Bao Boy" 
   Written By Sandra S. Yamate & Illustrated By Carolina Yao

"Char Siu Bao Boy" is an Asian American classic that looks at peer pressure to conform versus cultural pride and teaches children that it is OK to embrace their own culture that might be perceived as different by others. 

 "One Green Apple"
 Written by Eve Bunting & Illustrated by Ted Lewin 

"One Green Apple" tells the story of a young girl who just immigrated to America from an Arab country and how she discovers that her differences are what makes her special.  In 2006, "One Green Apple" won the inaugural Arab American Book Award for books written for Children/ Young Adults.

Although I am professionally not a teacher, I am a mother and see myself as my children's personal educator. It is crucial to begin multicultural and anti-bias education at a young age and incorporate diverse and cultural relevant activities into their daily lives. Culturally relevant activities strengthen children's connections to their family and home cultures, while diversity activities help foster each child's positive, empathetic interaction with diversity among people.  Once a child is comfortable with their own cultural identity, they are able to understand and accept differences in others and thrive as an anti-bias individual.





Sunday, March 24, 2013

Children's Book Analysis: The Story About Ping

Children's Book Analysis

By: Diana Gutenbegrer



Title: The Story About Ping

Written by: Marjorie Flack

Illustrated by: Kurt Wiese

Published: 1933

About the Author and Illustrator 

Marjorie Flack was born in October of 1897 in Long Island, New York.  Flack is best known for her children's books The Story About Ping (1933) and The Boats on the River (1946) which  received a Caldecott Honor in 1947. (Palmquist, Children's Literature Network, 2013)

Kurt Wiese was born in April of 1887 in Minden, Germany.  Before becoming a children's book illustrator Wiese traveled throughout the Far East and became an exporter in China.  During World War I, Wiese was captured by the Japanese and was detained at a prisoner-of-war camp in Australia.  After being released he returned to Germany and then eventually moved to Brazil where he began his illustration career.  Wiese received the Caldecott Honor in 1946 for You Can Write Chinese  and in 1948 for Fish in the Air. (Palmquist, Children's Literature Network, 2013)


About the Book

The Story About Ping  has been a popular selection for children's literature since it's first publication release in 1933.  Beginning in the 1950's the story was read once a week on the famous television show Captain Kangaroo for a consistent 17 years. (Unknown, 2013)
 According to a poll taken by the National Education Association in 2007 found at, the book was rated number 97 for the Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children and is found in bookshelves across the world. (NEA, 2007)

The Story begins with the introduction of a beautiful young duck named Ping.  He lives with his extremely large extended family on a boat with two wise-eyes that sails down the Yangtze river.  Every morning their master would allow them off the boat to search for food; however as soon as their master would call them back with a, "La-la-la-la-lei!"  the family would return to the boat as quickly as possible to avoid being the last one to arrive.  Ping was always very careful to not be the last duck in line, for that duck would be spanked on the back.  One afternoon, Ping was searching for food and missed his master's call and realized he would be the last to return to the boat.  Since Ping did not want to be spanked he decided to hide and he watched the wise-eyed boat sail away.  Ping began to feel extremely lonely so he decided to swim down the Yangtze river where he was caught by a young boy and his family who was going to cook him for supper.  The young boy felt it was wrong to eat such a beautiful duck so he let him free.  With luck on Ping's side, he decided to head back to his family on the wise-eyed boat.  Ping knew he was last again, but he still marched behind the others up to the boat and accepted the spank from his master.

My Analysis



After reading The Story About Ping I was truly amazed that this children's book has had more positive reviews than negative. Click here to read reviews.  Although it was written in a generation where spanking was generally accepted, I found that the general lesson the author is presenting sets a fear into young minds that it is not OK to be last, and when you are, you will be punished.  Also, if you try to avoid punishment, you will face death or other horrible situations. Although the story is well written for its time and will definitely interest and engage its reader, it does contain racist stereotypes in the text and illustrations, outdated views of the Chinese culture, and generally provides a negative effect on a child's self esteem. 

I found many stereotypes within the text of this book, as well as within the illustrations.  In the beginning of the story we are introduced to Ping.  Well first, when I hear the name "Ping" I immediately think of Peking duck, a well-known Chinese dish, which actually comes into play later on in the story when Ping is about to become a family's dinner.  I'm not sure why the author chose Ping as the name of our character, but it definitely comes across ironically disturbing in my eyes.   Anyway, we then meet Ping's extended family that consists of his mother and father and two sisters and three brothers and eleven aunts and seven uncles and forty-two cousins.  Now hearing this the reader can immediately come to the conclusion that Chinese families are large in general and all live together under one roof, which in today's generation is typically not true.  Once we meet Ping's family we are introduced to their "Master."  Illustrated as a yellow man wearing a customary Chinese outfit and a rice hat.  He is also holding a long whip that he uses to punish the last duck in line.  All the human characters within this story are colored yellow with slanted eyes and straight black hair, some in pony tails.  Even the young boy has two small pig tails on the top of his head.   Now why is this?  Well typically people of Asian descent are known as having yellow skin and of course we associate slanted eyes to Asian ethnicities.  Even the boat in which they live on is referred to as the Wise-eyed boat and is illustrated as "Asian Looking." The "Master" even calls out, "La-la-la-la-lei!" which to me seems that Flack is trying to portray an Asian accent within this character and is somewhat offensive to myself being Asian. Now having a "Master" is something I directly associate with slavery.  Although slavery was not legal in the 1930's, in which this book was published, the reader gets the sense that the need for superiority still existed and that the Chinese people practiced the act of dominance over those of lower status, and it was accepted.  Animal cruelty also seems to arise in this book numerous times.  First of course with the spanking of the ducks, but we also see it when Ping visits a fishing boat with strange, dark fishing birds that would swoop down and catch fish for their "Master."  To keep the birds from eating the whole fish they had metal bands strapped around their necks.  Now if this isn't animal cruelty, I don't know what is; however after researching, I found an article at about how Chinese fishermen learn to train cormorant birds to catch fish for them and it has been used for many generations and is typically accurate yet unfortunate for these birds.  Now yes, there are many stereotypical issues and outdated material found within the text and illustrations in this book; however my main problem is the fact that it focuses on the punishment of the young duck or "child" when arriving last and when the duck shows fear in his punishment it leads to the risk of death.  Surprisingly, after researching numerous websites, many mothers do not agree with me.  Many feel that this story provides a positive reinforcement of following directions and provides an accurate context of the Chinese culture, however I would not read this to my own children in fear that they might get the impression that they will be punished for being last or even think that it is OK to spank for this reason.   

Work Cited 

NEA. (2007). National Education Association. Retrieved from Teachers' Top 100 Books for Children:

Palmquist, V. (2013, March 24). Birthday Bios: Kurt Wiese. Retrieved from Chilldren's Literature Network:

Palmquist, V. (2013, March 24). Children's Literature Network. Retrieved from Birthday Bios: Marjorie Flack:

Unknown. (2013, January). Wikipedia. Retrieved from The Story About Ping: