Kid Activities
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Black History Month Activities for Kids

October 14, 2009 06:23 by Barbara Shelby

 

WHAT IS BLACK HISTORY MONTH?

Black History Month was established in 1926. Although there is an international aspect to Black History month, it is mainly an American holiday. In 1926, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson and other African American and white scholars, launched "Negro History Week" so that Americans could reflect on the history and contributions of African Americans. In the 1970s, the celebration of African American history was expanded to include the entire month of February.

Black History Month should not be confused with a national holiday for African countries. African countries have their own national holidays at various times throughout the year. For example, Kenya's national holiday is on December 12th. Source:dltk-kids.com 

The following activities have been compiled for school-agers in recognition of Black History Month as well as  Cultural Diversity  and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day... Be sure to visit the other categories to see the complete resource for activities!

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DISPLAY BOARDS

Idea #1

Put together a bulletin board with the children compiling a list of 100 African-Americans that have made a difference. Black History Month usually will coincide with the 100th Day or School--this board could celebrate both occasions!!! 

Tip: Pictures can easily be found and down-loaded with Internet Searches...

 

Idea #2  Celebrate Black History by introducing the purpose of it and some key leaders. Make class room displays of pictures and information surrounding this occasion.

See three more 'Display Wall examples' at page bottom.

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WRITE A LETTER

Ask  children to choose a friend or relative to write a letter to about Black History. Have them include a purpose for the special occasion, contributions of two or more leaders and the most interesting piece of information learned about Black History. Post the children's letters. At the end of the month, the children can send their letters to their chosen recipients.

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BLACK HISTORY QUILT

Have children choose one or more biographies to read, then encourage them to draw a picture based on one scene from the life of each person about whom they have read. Mount each picture on a larger sheet of colored paper, and attach pages to wall to form a quilt of famous African-Americans. Purchase, or down-load age-appropriate biographies of influential African-Americans---The following list can get you started! 

•Benjamin Banneker
Elijah McCoy
Harriet Tubman
Frederick Douglass
George Washington Carver
Booker T. Washington
Samuel Morris
Dred Scott
Matthew Henson
Garrett A. Morgan
James Weldon Johnson
Colin Powell
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Barack Obama

Mary Mcleod Bethune
Marian Anderson
Mahalia Jackson
Marian Anderson: singer
Maya Angelou: singer, actress, activist, writer, poet
Lil Hardin Armstrong: jazz musician
Pearl Bailey: singer, performer, stage, film, special ambassador
Marian Anderson: singer
Regina Anderson: librarian, playwright
Josephine Baker: entertainer
Willie B. Barrow: minister, civil rights activist
Daisy Bates: journalist, civil rights activist
Mary McLeod Bethune: educator, racial justice activist, New Deal government official
Gwendolyn Brooks: poet, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, poet laureate of Illinois
Marita Bonner: writer, educator
Shirley Chisholm: politician
Ruby Dee: actress, activist
Mae Jemison: astronaut, physician
Barbara Jordan: politician

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BLACK AND WHITE COLLAGE

Each person will need one sheet of black construction paper, one sheet of white, one brightly colored sheet, and glue.

Tear black and white sheets into small pieces (>1/2" square).
Paste the black and white pieces on the brightly colored sheet to create a unique collage.
Some people may choose to create identifiable objects. Others may create geometric designs or a patterned "quilt."

After all pieces are completed, allow children to show their pictures and briefly describe them.
Note that neither the black nor the white alone would have created an interesting picture, yet the two could be combined into many interesting patterns. In short, they were more productive working as a team. Discuss the need for teamwork, whether it is in the home, the classroom, the workplace or the community at large. What are some tasks that require group effort?

You might also pay special attention to the differences between the pieces. Point out that just as no two pieces are art are alike, no two people are alike. Each person has a unique purpose in life, and the home, church, community, and society as a whole are benefited when each person finds and fulfills his purpose in life instead of seeking to be "just like" another individual.

Consider the lives of Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Colin Powell. Each has significantly influenced not only the African-American community, but all of American society. What would have happened, however, if any of these individuals had tried to be "just like" one of their predecessors?

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RE-ENACT A STORY BOOK SCENE...

KId Activities.net has an extensive Book LIst for all ages  for Black History Month and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 Invite the children to read one of more of the stories such as one about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad. (Checking Amazon.com-the book is 99 cents)

After reading the book, children can write a skit...practice...and perform!

ANOTHER BOOK IDEA...

Read a book and then have children draw/color/paint pictures based on something they found profound or interesting in the story.

  • Using  the children's creative efforts--- make a Display Wall.
  • After the wall is taken down, the art can then be compiled into a program/classroom booklet.

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AFRICAN FOOD for Black History Month or ANYTIME.

Many groups observe Black History Month with public lectures and exhibits, and perhaps include African foods. African dishes that are related to African-American favorites are especially appropriate for these occasions. Of course it would be difficult to provide an entire meal from the menu below---but you COULD do something with the fruit at the bottom of this post!

An African meal example: 

WKoki- an appetizer made from black-eyed peas
Peanut Soup -a pan-African and African-American favorite
Rice
Yams  or their American relation, sweet potatoes
Fruit Salad OR Coconut Pie for dessert
Beverages: Green Tea with Mint, (iced, if you like)
Ginge
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 FRUIT SALAD

A wide variety of tropical fruits, both native and non-native, are cultivated in Africa. It is more likely that any of the fruits listed in this recipe would be eaten as a snack than made into an elaborate fruit salad.

In Western Africa, the closest thing to a dessert course is the "after-chop" and a popular "after-chop" is fruit salad. 

In Eastern Africa, Swahili people make a 'Saladi ya Matunda' for dessert. One interesting thing about the African fruit salad is the use of the avocado. A fruit salad can be made from just three or four of the ingredients listed below.
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Any of the following (fresh or canned): avocado, banana, grapefruit, guava, mango, melon, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pineapple, tangerine, juice of one lemon -- or -- chopped, crushed mint leaves, grated coconut, or chopped roasted peanuts, sugar, (optional) -- honey can also be used...

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ACTIVITIES TO CELEBRATE INVENTORS AND THEIR INVENTIONS!

UNIQUE PROGRAM/CLASSROOM INVENTIONS!

1. Open up your recycled area and provide materials such as- pieces of wood, used CD's, milk containers, straws, tape, pipe cleaners, paper clips paper, glue, poster paint, markers, crayons, elastic, fabric scraps, construction paper, pom-poms, rubber bands and safety pins.
 
2. Children can work individually or in small groups; Give them plenty of time to brainstorm ideas.

3. Challenge children to come up with unique,  creative, and useful items.
 
4. The kids may need more than one day to complete their projects; however, when complete- share the inventions with the group. 

• What is it?
What does it do?
What materials are used to make it?

5. SHARE IT...This is an activity that takes time and thought. Honor the children's work by inviting parents and visitors to view the display. A written description of each "invention" would also be a good idea.

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GARRETT MORGAN INVENTED THE TRAFFIC LIGHT...

Idea #1: MAKE A TRAFFIC LIGHT SNACK
Ingredients:
Graham crackers
Peanut butter or chocolate frosting (Sample is frosting) 
Red, yellow and green m&ms--craft sticks 
     • Spread peanut butter or frosting on a one quarter piece of graham cracker. Place this on the top of a craft stick.
Place the m&m's in the pattern of a traffic Light. Snacks can also be made without the craft sticks.

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#2 PLAY THE GAME RED-LIGHT-GREEN LIGHT

Select one child, or perhaps yourself, to start the game and be the “stoplight”.
All the children line up on the other side of gym or field.
The designated stoplight yells “Green light!” and the children lined up start running.
The first one to make it to the stoplight wins and is now the stoplight.
It gets tricky when the stoplight changes, though.
The stoplight should yell “Red light!” to get children to stop.

Any movement by a child means she is sent back to the beginning.
The stoplight can also call out “yellow light” which means the children can only walk very slowly.
Variations to this game include yelling “red light” two times in a row, or adding body movements.
Say “green light” with your arms up one time and then say “red light,” but throw your arms up again to confuse runners into thinking your body language says “green light.”

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 #3 TRAFFIC LIGHT DRAMA GAME for Young Kids...

To prepare for the game...cut out a red circle, a green circle and a yellow circle on colored construction paper or cardstock. You can also color it in on white paper.

To Play: With music playing in the background, have children start "driving" around the room. They should make beeping and engine noises while doing so. They can pretend to be buses, cars, trucks or bikes - whatever they like.

Every couple minutes, hold up a colored circle and call out either...
"Stop - the lights are Red!"” or
"Slow down - the lights are Yellow!" or
"Go, go, go - the lights are Green!"

If the lights are red, the children must stand absolutely still. If they are yellow they must slow down. On green they move around normally. When ending the game ask all the "vehicles" to neatly park.

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#4 DRAW, COLOR, and PAINT a TRAFFIC LIGHT

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GRANVILLLE T. WOODS -- Who He was...
Granville T. Woods (1856-1910) of Cincinnati invented Air Brakes, Steam Boilers and the Telegram System (1885) for sending messages while trains were still in motion. His inventions were sold to General Electric, American Telephone and the Westinghouse Air Brake Company. During his lifetime he held U.S. patents to over 50 inventions.

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Granville T. Woods RAP SONG... RAP can be Fun! It stands for "Rhythm & Poetry. A fun way to get Literacy into the program! Can you group come up with any other RAP songs?!

Granville T. Woods was an inventor you see,
He made lots of things very positively.
Mr. Woods invented the telegraph,
Which let trains know what was in their path.
Granville invented one incubator,
Which saved lots of chicken 2 months later.
Granville T. Woods was a very smart man.
His inventions are used throughout the land.

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(1864-1943)
The Peanut Man

George Washington Carver...George's life is an amazing story and life lesson to explore with the children in your class/program. Be sure to do an internet search or obtain a book to learn about this great man.

Briefly,
George was an agricultural scientist, who devoted his life to research projects connected primarily with southern United States agriculture.  He derived many products from the peanut and soybean, but never patented any of his discoveries.

Among the products created by Carver from various foods are the following:
Adhesives, Axle Grease, Bleach, Buttermilk, Chili Sauce, Cream, Instant Coffee, Linoleum, Mayonnaise, Meat Tenderizer, Metal Polish, Paper, Peanut Butter, Rubbing Oils, Shampoo, Shaving Cream, Shoe Polish, Sugar

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MAKE HOMEMADE PEANUT BUTTER

Before starting this project, check allergy records children and send a note to parents, informing them of the project.

Materials:
4 Cups of shelled Peanuts
1/3  cup Canola Oil
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Sugar
Measuring spoon
Measuring cup
Food Processor
Knife
Crackers
Paper Plates

Instructions:
1. Have kids help you shell the peanuts and place them into the food processor.
2. Measure and pour the vegetable oil into the food processor.
3. Have another student volunteer add three pinches of salt.
4. Turn the food processor on and blend ingredients. You may need to stop every now and then and scrape the sides. If the peanut butter looks too hard, then add a little oil at a time until it becomes smooth.
5. Have children come to the bowl to spread peanut butter onto a cracker.

Ask kids if they like the peanut butter.
Extension Idea:  Compare store bought peanut butter to the homemade peanut butter and chart the differences.
If you want to try this other ways-you can also--
Add some honey for the oil
Add pecans, sunflower seeds, and other nuts or some chocolate or butterscotch chips

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GROW A PEANUT IN A BAGGIE

Materials:
Raw peanuts from the health food store
Plastic baggies,
Paper towels
Water
Plant a peanut in a baggie by having each child put one or two raw peanuts in the baggie along with a damp paper towel.
Seal the baggie. Keep paper towel damp-but briefly open every couple days as not to mold. Observe how peanuts grow.

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 THREE EXAMPLES OF DISPLAY WALLS at Wyland

Each grade at  Wyland Elmentary School in St. Louis, MO. decorate their halls with Display Walls/Bulletin Boards celebrating Black History Month.

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Menu for Diversity and Multi-Cultural Category

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