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Coloring and a Conversation

By Laura Henneghan, Early Elementary Teacher

It is undeniable—all of our students and children, along with all of us grown ups—are adapting to a dramatically different way of life, due to the global coronavirus pandemic, and social distancing and shelter-in-place protocols. While doing our part to promote public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, adults and children alike are inevitably experiencing disruption to our schedules and the emotional and physical changes that accompany this disruption. 

Ricardo Levins Morales, a self-described “healer and trickster organizer disguised as an artist”  recently addressed this concept in a new series called “What to Do in a Pandemic.” These beautiful woodblock prints feature animals and pieces of wisdom from animals, such as a fox paired with the phrase “Stay aware,” and a bee paired with “Organize for a better future”. Morales’s timely–and beautiful–artwork is popping up around the web, and was recently featured in an ADL blog post called Draw Me Safe: Coloring and Conversation about a Pandemic.

This simple article pairs each of Morales’s prints with accompanying “Table Topics” questions aimed to foster family conversations about how our lives have shifted in the recent weeks. The post includes printable coloring-page versions of the prints with three related guiding questions each, designed so your family can color and converse simultaneously. The discussion prompts provide a developmentally appropriate platform to engage in a conversation about Current Events, asking families to work together to define vocabulary like “vulnerable” and “exposure,” and think about how we are–and others in our communities might be–impacted by public health policies. 

If you decide to try this activity with your family, try letting your child(ren) be the guide(s) of the conversation. You know your child(ren) best–validate their emotions, answer their questions, and feel free to push pause if you notice your child becoming overwhelmed or resistant.