Skills Building: ordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America (3rd - 5th)

Unit11 Book- Gordon Parks

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Jamey Christoph

Pre- Reading Questions 

  1. Look at the front cover of the book. What do you think the character is thinking and feeling? 
  2. We started talking about perspective-taking last week, how might a photographer be skilled at seeing scenarios from other people’s perspective? 
  3. When have you taken the perspective of another person?

Post- Reading Questions

  1. How do you think Gordon felt when he saw all the statues and portraits of white men and none of Black men or families like him? 
  2. How did Gordon use his camera and his position to help others take a different perspective? 
  3. Photos, artwork, and books can be powerful in teaching us about the world and showing us different perspectives. What book, photo, or piece of art has shown you a different perspective? 
  4. How does seeing situations through other people’s eyes help us in the world?

Creative Enrichment Activity: Perspective Taking with Paint Blots (3-5)


In the books, The Paper Kingdom and Gordon Parks: How the Photographer Captured Black and White America, we talked about learning how to take the perspective of another person and think from their point of view and mindset. Every person sees things their own way based on their likes, dislikes, past experiences, memories, and various other factors. Learning to recognize that others see things differently than you is an important lifelong skill. In this activity, we will create paint blots and learn how, even when looking at the same thing, each person can see something different.


  • Printer paper
  • Acrylic paint (3 colors per group)
  • Paper plates (optional if paint bottles are squeezable)
  • Paintbrushes (optional if paint bottles are squeezable)
  • Strips of paper
  • Pencils

Duration40 minutes (for staff: 5-minute pre-activity setup, 5-minute prep)

  • 5 minutes: Introduce the activity using the book and examples
  • 5 minutes: Put students into small groups of no more than 4 students
  • 10 minutes: Create paint blots
  • 10 minutes: Small group discussion of paint blots
  • 5 minutes: Clean up
  • 5 minutes: Reflect


  1. Introduce the activity using the book and the examples. Have a group discussion about perspective-taking. 
  2. Students fold all papers in half (hamburger style fold)
  3. Students use paintbrushes to add large globs of paint to one side of their paper. If paintbrushes are not available and the paint bottles are squeezable, students can add globs of paint by squeezing the paint on to the side of their paper. 
  4. Students in grades 3-5 can use three different colors of paint. 
  5. Immediately fold the paper in half and press down to make a print on the second side of the paper. Open the paper back up to reveal your paint blot.
  6. Once all students in a group have created their paint blot, they will gather in their small groups and share their paint blots one at a time. 
    1. One student shows their paint blot to the group. 
    2. Each group member spends about 30 seconds looking at the paint blot and writes down on a small strip of paper what they see with their name or initials. 
    3. Students will then share what they saw in the paint blot. 
    4. Repeat this for each student. 
    5. Students will see that for each painting there are multiple interpretations, like cloud shapes. 
  7. Clean up the materials. 
  8. Reflect as a large group.

Reflection Questions

  • What did you notice about the different paint blots in your group? 
  • Everyone was looking at the same paint blot, but did everyone see the same thing? 
  • Were you able to point out what you saw to others so that they could also see what you see? 
  • Why is it important to try to see things from other perspectives? 
  • Does everyone see every situation the same way?