With the wellspring of cultural knowledge available to educate African American children about our rich heritage a solid anchor for all of this information is Kwanzaa. Unless you know where you come from, you can never arrive at where you should be going (huge paraphrase). Let’s look at this quote…
Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community. These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles. Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them.
…from the Official Kwanzaa Web Site – http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/7principles.html
After learning American history, World history, the history of art, music, writing and the like – African American history is a must and I will touch on a way to add Kwanzaa to your curriculum.
First let’s start with the little ones – the simplest way that we use is with coloring pictures. Give them examples of of the seven symbols of Kwanzaa which you can find online and let them color them as they desire. Remember to write the names of each symbol and tell them the meaning of each one. As they get older they will begin to recall the meaning of the symbols and ask questions about each one. Parents prepare ahead of time to answer their questions about Kwanzaa as they will ask about each one and it will probably be at a time when you are not at your computer or near a Kwanzaa calendar to remember. Our children need good principles to guide them thru life and this is an invaluable way to instill them.
For those a little more mature in age get them to make a Kwanzaa calendar to place in their room, with the symbols, their names and meaning. As an added way to remember Kwanzaa we discuss each separate symbol, name and meaning each month leading up to Kwanzaa – giving you extra material to which subjects like history, culture, languages, writing and composition can be budded from throughout the year.
Starting at those at the ages of 16 and up we let them choose a principle and go online to research examples of each Kwanzaa symbol being applied in the past, present and produce an example that can be used in the future. The future application of their respective Kwanzaa symbol can be next year or five years from now and triggers their use of critical thinking – something that young leaders need to practice in order to be part of building family, community and culture.
A more in-depth lesson plan that can be used as a homeschooling guide to Kwanzaa can be found at the Learning to Give website: http://www.learningtogive.org/lessons/unit158/overview.html. Each age group has a different activity planned for celebrating Kwanzaa in a more structured format.
Because of the richness of Kwanzaa and the principles that it points to as a reinforcement for community, family and culture it’s values should be rehearsed year-round just as Christmas in July and other holidays are touched upon out of season. We have the future of our nation’s principles in our hands let’s not forget to remind each other to keep those principles.
Daviyd Peterson: 10-year consultant, instructor, trainer of
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