Black History Month
Black History Month is a fantastic time to introduce your little ones to the incredible achievements of people with African heritage.
Throughout October, we celebrate the remarkable contributions of Black women and men who have made history. From inspiring figures like Martin Luther King Jr. to the legendary Nelson Mandela, Black leaders, authors, activists, and intellectuals have shaped our world.
By teaching our children about these accomplishments, we are not only sharing stories of courage and resilience but also promoting empathy, inclusivity, and a deep appreciation for diversity.
Exploring Africa's rich history and culture is part of this journey, too. It's a beautiful way to help your children learn about their world and grow into empathetic individuals who celebrate differences and work towards a more fair and just world
Engage your little one in conversations about Black History. Discuss famous Black figures and their contributions to art, science, music and literature:
My First Heroes: Black History by Campbell Books. It highlights Black men and women's diverse and exciting lives, including Maya Angelou, Stormzy, Rosa Parks and Nelson Mandela.
Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison. It is a beautifully illustrated board book that celebrates heroes, role models and everyday women who did incredible things and whose actions still influence the world and continue to inspire current and future generations.
Coming To England by Floella Benjamin. A picture book story about the triumph of hope, love, and determination, an inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad to London as part of the Windrush generation to the House of Lords.
African and Caribbean Folktales, Myths and Legends by Wendy Shearer. A rich collection of folktales, myths and legends from Africa and the Caribbean. From the trickster tales of Anansi, the spider, to how the leopard got his spots, the story of the king who wanted to touch the moon, to Aunt Misery's magical starfruit tree.
Africa boasts many art techniques highlighting its diverse culture, history, and creativity. From masks, sculptures, and detailed beadwork in East Africa to vibrant batik fabrics in West Africa, these artistic traditions will captivate the imagination and showcase the rich array of Africa's heritage and the originality of its people. Here are some simple art techniques for you to recreate with your little one at home:
African masks are works of art from diverse cultures across the African continent. These masks are not just decorative; they hold deep cultural and spiritual significance. Each mask is carefully crafted using wood, fabric, and metal materials. African masks serve different purposes, from storytelling to celebrating special occasions. They are known for their unique designs, vibrant colours, and details.
Crayons, coloured pencils, or markers
Lollipop sticks or straws
Glue or tape
Decorative items like feathers, pasta, beads, and fabric scraps
Begin by discussing African masks with the children. Show them pictures from a book or the Internet of different African masks from various regions.
Have them place the paper plate on their face and trace around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Then, help them in cutting out the facial features.
It's time to design their own African mask. They can draw patterns, shapes, or symbols that are meaningful to them.
Now they can decide on the shape of their mask - round or another shape? Help them cut out the paper plate to create the mask shape.
Keep decorating and glue the feathers, beads, fabric scraps and pasta shapes onto their masks.
Attach a lollipop stick or a straw to the bottom of the mask. This will serve as the handle for holding the mask.
In the culture of many African tribes, such as the Maasai, people from Central and southern Kenya and northern Tanzania often wear colourful and patterned beaded necklaces. The colours used are blue, green, red, yellow, orange, black, and white.
Different shapes and sizes of pasta, ones with holes (penne, rigatoni, macaroni, etc.
Paints or markers
Paintbrushes (if using paint)
String or pipe cleaners
Here are the steps:
Get your little one to paint the pasta pieces and allow them to dry completely.
Once dried, they will need to cut a piece of string as desired for their jewellery.
It's time for the threading! Use a piece of Sellotape to create a "needle" at the end of the string to help thread the pasta beads.
Encourage them to create unique patterns and designs. Like African beadwork artists, they can experiment with different combinations and arrangements.
Help them tie the ends of the string together securely to form a wearable piece of jewellery.
The diversity of African animals is nothing short of astonishing! From the majestic lions to the towering giraffes and the speedy cheetahs to the gentle elephants. Learning about African animals is a beautiful way to instil values of respect for all living beings, cultivate a sense of curiosity, and inspire a lifelong relationship with the natural world.
Read African animal stories such as:
Tinga Tinga Tales: Why Elephant has a Trunk by Edward Gakuya
Lazy Lion (African Animal Tales) by Mwenye Hadithi
We're Going on a Lion Hunt by David Axtell
We all went on Safari, Laurie Krebs
Discuss the landscapes in the stories, the similarities and differences between African landscapes and your own, the clothes and ways of life.
You could talk to them about animal coat patterns and how the animals look, move and sound!
Have a Safari Yoga session!
Come up with your own yoga poses for each animal. For example, pretend to be an elephant by standing tall, raising your arms, and swaying them like a trunk. Or mimic a giraffe by stretching your neck and reaching for leaves high up in the trees. For the cheetah, get down on all fours and get ready to sprint. Remember to add the animal sounds!
As you move and stretch, share interesting facts about each animal, habitat, sounds, diet, etc.
Start by introducing children to various music genres rooted in African culture. This can include jazz, blues, gospel, reggae, hip-hop, and traditional African music.
Play songs from each genre and discuss how they make you feel and what instruments you hear.
Many Black musicians have left an unforgettable mark on the world of music. Their talent, creativity, and contributions inspire and entertain people of all backgrounds. Share the stories of legendary musicians such as:
Known as the "Satchmo" or "Pops," Louis Armstrong was a jazz pioneer. His trumpet and vocal skills revolutionized the genre, and his rendition of "What a Wonderful World" remains timeless.
Often referred to as the "First Lady of Song," Ella Fitzgerald's incredible voice and scat singing made her a jazz legend. She won 13 Grammy Awards during her career.
A global symbol of reggae music and the Rastafarian movement, Bob Marley's songs like "No Woman, No Cry" and "One Love" continue to inspire and unite people worldwide.
The "Queen of Soul," Aretha Franklin, had a powerful voice and an extensive catalogue of hits, including "Respect" and "Natural Woman."
Nina Simone was a talented singer and a civil rights activist. Her song "Feeling Good" is an anthem for empowerment.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists in rock history, Jimi Hendrix's innovative style and songs like "Purple Haze" continue to influence generations of musicians.
Known for blending gospel, R&B, and soul, Ray Charles had hits like "Georgia on My Mind" and "Hit the Road Jack."
Explore the rich and diverse cuisine of African-Caribbean cuisine. Cook traditional dishes together, like jerk chicken, gumbo, or jollof rice.
Making a meal with them will allow them to explore tastes, textures and spices. Get your little one to smell different spices and herbs and feel the textures of different foods.
When your little one cooks with you, they will explore different cultures and practice many other skills, such as language, physical, and early mathematics, such as weighing and the texture of ingredients, thus supporting the development of their cognitive thinking skills and independence.
Here is a quick and easy recipe for one famous African sweet treat: Coconut Chin Chin!
5 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
3-4 tbsp of coconut flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1 cup of butter
1 cup of milk
Oil for deep frying
How to Make Coconut Chin Chin Step-By-Step:
Combine dry ingredients in a bowl; add the flour, sugar, baking, nutmeg, and coconut flakes to the bowl and mix until well combined.
Rub in cold butter. Mix in egg and milk. Knead until smooth, roll out and cut into 1/5-inch thick cubes or any desired shape.
Fry until golden brown, then let cool on paper towels. Enjoy!
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