Persona Dolls are large, sometimes child-sized (toddler sized) dolls representing multiple types of diversity and support children’s understandings of difference. They can be used with very young children up through early elementary grades. Persona dolls help teachers to tap into issues related to social emotional competency, as well as diversity, equity, and anti-bias education. The dolls are not played with like a traditional toy. Instead they become members of the classroom as teachers create a character with a name, birth date, family, likes, dislikes, etc. A doll’s life experiences unfold over time and children connect to the dolls and the content of the stories we tell about them. Used in concert with Social Stories and a social emotional curriculum such as Second Step, Persona Dolls help children key sort out issues they experience.
Before using the doll it is important to:
- Read the Persona Doll Guide, developed by Debbie LeeKeenan, carefully. Watch the Storytelling to Make a Difference video. See the Persona Doll Workshop PowerPoint. These resources will help you learn the steps to presenting the doll and the nuances and techniques involved. They will also allow you to see the kinds of issues teachers use Persona Dolls to support.
- Choose a doll and and develop its Persona Doll story using the Personal Doll Worksheet. See the Sample Stories handout for ideas.
- Practice how you will present the Persona Doll to children before introducing it.
- Think about how you will gradually use stories about the doll to engage children in a variety of ways.
- Connect dolls to children’s literature and activities
The Somerville Department of Early Education and Care has sets of Persona Dolls in their Lending Library and Somerville teachers and providers can check them out. Contact Heidi Given at firstname.lastname@example.org