Guest Post by Dr. Worokya Duncan, Ph.D.
Recently, I received a wonderful letter asking what can be done during the month of February to celebrate and educate during Black History Month. I hope this post gives you some ideas. I will break down activities by age-group as well.
Infants & Toddlers
Some people may think that infants and toddlers are too young to understand racial and ethnic concepts. However, some interesting research suggests that children can pick up on social norms, whether good or bad, fairly early on. So, what ca be done to stave the tide of racism at an early age?
1. Let your child see you cooking with different ingredients of different colors.
2. Talk about how important it is to include different things in the recipes to make it better.
3. Read books that appropriately share the histories of Blacks in the diaspora, and African-Americans in the United States. Here are some:
Happily Henry’s Moses
Now this suggestion may be touchy to some, but bear with me. How ethnically diverse is your child’s playgroup or playground? Try to branch out, not just this month, and widen your social circle. Your children copy what they see.
Kindergarten – Fourth Grade
1. Do you have a Pandora account? Have your child/children listen to African Diasporic music. During this music listening time, carry on some research about the people singing. If the music is from the Harlem Renaissance, perhaps you can find some information about that. If the music is from Africa, learn, along with your child, more about the specific cultural groups on the continent. Go here for ideas from The Smithsonian.
2. Let’s go on a sight-seeing trip! This can be done right in your home. Did you know that there are many inventions, right in our homes, that would not have been possible, had it not been for African-Americans? These are but a few:
Stove: T. A. Carrington on July 25, 1876
Rolling Pin: John W. Reed in 1864
Air Conditioning Unit: Frederick M. Jones on July 12, 1949
Almanac: Benjamin Banneker in 1791
Cellular Phone: Henry T. Sampson on July 6, 1971
Clothes Dryer: G. T. Sampson on June 6, 1862
Egg Beater: Willie Johnson on February 5, 1884
Door Knob & Door Stop: O. Dorsey on December 10, 1878
We now know that many of the quilts made during the time of slavery in the United States were both maps and family trees. Use the directions below to create a quilt from construction paper. Make sure you include information about your family, and perhaps a map to a Civil Rights or Underground Railroad site:
Read Drinking Gourd
Have child/children draw pictures of family members, and perhaps write a few sentences about each person.
Look up Civil Rights and Underground Railroad sites and draw them on a map on one of the pieces of paper.
Glue edges together until you have a “quilt” that is at least 5 x 5.
Display in kitchen or dining room area.
Getting older children interested in Black History can be both challenging and rewarding. I’m always for books, but sometimes, older children need to see where they fit into the equation- how are THEY affected? Amongst other films, perhaps use the following as points of discussion:
1. The Butler
4. 12 Years A Slave
8. Ghosts of Mississippi
How much do our children know about the laws that negatively affect Blacks and those of African descent? Talk about Stop and Frisk, The Voting Rights Act, and The Homestead Acts. Talk about Brown vs. Board and whether or not their education is better off due to it. Talk about resegregation of schools. Most of all, discuss what they can do to make their world better for ALL people.
Dr. Worokya Duncan is a professional educator with over 17 years of classroom experience, a Doctoral-level education, a great deal of energy, and a commitment to students. Over the course of her career, she has taught both elementary and middle school students in a variety of subjects, including United States History, Literacy and Science. Her efforts undoubtedly extend beyond academics. She works hard to instill a sense of pride, community, and motivates students to set higher standards. To learn more about Dr. Duncan, please visit her website at Duncan Educational Consultants.
If you need more ideas, please e-mail Dr. Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org
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