Kwanzaa Lesson Plan
Songs, Fingerplays, and Group Time Information
Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday that celebrates the harvest and teaches principles that go far beyond ethnic boundaries. An African-American holiday of Kwanzaa is a holiday in which people celebrate their African heritage. (Dec 26 – Jan 1) The holiday is based on traditional “first fruits” or harvest.
* Share experiences of children who have celebrated Kwanzaa.
Talk about these Kwanzaa facts:
– Kwanzaa was created in 1966 in the U.S. by Maulana Karenga, a professor. The name Kwanzaa, which means “first fruits of the harvest,” comes from the African language of Swahili. Many of the new words you will hear associated with Kwanzaa are Swahili words.
– During Kwanzaa seven candles are placed in a kinara (kee-nar-rah), which is a wooden candle holder. For each day of Kwanzaa, one candle is lighted to celebrate a special principle. These principles come from beliefs held by
families in many parts of Africa.
– The seven principles of Kwanzaa are: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith.
– On each of the seven days, families will participate in an activity which symbolizes that day’s principle. For example, on the sixth day of Kwanzaa people make up dances to perform for family and friends, showing creativity.
– Kwanzaa gifts, called zawadi (zah-wah-dee), are made by hand. Gifts symbolizing African ancestry. Some examples are: fabric dolls with black-button eyes, homemade story books with African folk tales, and necklaces strung with specked beads. These zawadi are made and given by adults and children alike on Kwanzaa.
Use a small Christmas tree to make a “Kwanzaa bush” for your celebration. Let
the children decorate the bush with chains made from strips of red, green, and
black construction paper. Or cut geometric shapes out of black construction
paper and let the children glue on small pieces of red and green gift wrap to
make ornaments for hanging. If desired, let them sprinkle glitter on their
ornaments while the glue is still wet.
VARIATION: Instead of using a real tree, cut a large Christmas tree shape out
of green construction paper and mount it on a wall or bulletin board. Then
attach the children’s decorations with tape or glue.
Three Blind Mice
Red, green, black,
Red, green, black.
The decorations are quite a sight,
We light a candle every night,
The holiday is filled with light.
Dye 3 groups of Mostaciolli noodles red, green, and black with alcohol and food coloring (you can get black food coloring at craft stores in the cake decorating section). Let dry. Give each child a piece of yarn with a small piece of masking tape wrapped around one end. Let each child string the Kwanzaa colored noodles.
Let the children try this version of African cloth dying to make placemats for snack time. Have them dribble rubber cement in designs on sheets of white construction paper. Allow the glue to dry for about half an hour. Then have the children brush paint over the glue. When the paint has dried, let the children peel off the rubber cement to reveal the designs they created.
Paint the back sides of paper plates with vertical black stripes. When the paint has dried, glue on nose and ear shapes. Then glue short strips of tissue paper or crepe paper around the edges of the plates. (To keep the paint from smearing, glue ears and tissue paper strips to the unpainted sides of the masks.)
Paint back sides of paper plates yellow. When the paint has dried use black felt-tip markers or black paint to make spots. Glue on nose and ear shapes and add tissue paper strips.
Paint the back sides of paper plates gray. Glue on trunks, ears and tissue paper strips. When the children have finished, display their masks on a wall or bulletin board. Or attach tongue depressors for handles and let the children use them
for dramatic play.