Persona Dolls don’t live in the home corner. As far as the children know, they visit, usually at circle time and quickly become part of the group.
For example, when the children at a Primary School were told they were going to visit a farm, the very first question they asked was:
“Will My-Lan (their Persona Doll) go too?”
She did and the children reported that she thoroughly enjoyed herself.
Children quickly become caring friends of the Dolls, responding thoughtfully and empathetically to them. They share their happiness and support them when they are sad, angry or frightened.
Persona Dolls were first used in the 1950s in the United States.
Very few resources were available that reflected the ethnicity of children who were not white. Two teachers made dolls out of card, coloured their skin and drew physical features to match those of the children in their kindergarden. They then created personas and stories for the dolls. Persona Dolls were born.
When used an environment in which a range of life styles, traditions and cultures are appreciated, carefully chosen Persona Dolls and their stories encourage children, to value and respect not only various skin colours, but also a range of hair textures and facial features.
Introducing Dolls that do not reflect the children in the group can promote cross-cultural respect and understanding. This is particularly important where the children are all from the same ethnic or cultural group and are monolingual.