Every year we celebrate Black History Month during February. Black History Month was started by a historian named Carter G. Woodson, who believed that children should become more educated about Black history and the achievements made by Black men and women.
It has become more critical than ever to introduce children to the conversation of racial diversity. In our blog post entitled Talking To Kids About Protests and Race, we provide some resources that you can use to start having these conversations with your kids. By teaching young children about the importance of empowering and uplifting Black voices, we help foster a more inclusive generation of other races and ethnicities. In doing so, we can influence young children to create a positive future for themselves full of respect and equality for everyone. This is what builds healthy communities.
While this vital conversation about racial equality should be reinforced throughout the year, Black History Month is a great time to start having it. Here are five ideas on how you can celebrate Black History Month with the whole family:
1. Visit a local museum.
Museums are a good way for you and your children to become more familiar with Black history. Many museums have special exhibits during Black History Month, where children learn about important Black historical figures and events by looking at artifacts, hearing stories, and engaging in educational play activities. Some museums even invite Black authors, artists, and scientists to come and talk about their work personally! While some museums may be closed because of the pandemic, you can often check to see if a museum is doing a virtual tour or exhibit so that your little ones can still enjoy the museum experience from home.
Microsoft has teamed up with museums and historic sites from all across the country to hold various virtual museum tours from February 1st to February 28th:
2. Read a book that celebrates Black History.
For our bookworms out there, reading a book that celebrates diversity and Black History is an excellent way to celebrate the month and learn more. Reading stories about Black History allows your child to absorb information in a fun and engaging way. The books we read often contribute to the vocabulary we use, so reading books about diversity can teach your child more inclusive vocabulary. Two children’s book recommendations to celebrate Black History are A is for All the Things You Are by Anna Forgerson Hindley and A Child’s Introduction to African American History by Jabari Asim. Here is a list of children's books on race, equity, and inclusion.
3. Create a Black History Month “quilt” craft.
Quilts have a special significance in Black history because traditional African patterned quilts were often spun by Black women on plantations. Quilts were also said to have been used as secret, coded maps for the Underground Railroad. To honor both African American quilting traditions and influential figures, one craft idea that you can do with your kids is to make a “quilt”.
All you need are black, red, green, and yellow construction paper and printed-out photos of Black historical figures of your choice. Start by ripping or cutting up the red, green, and yellow construction paper into small pieces. On the black construction paper, glue down the historical figure in the middle. Your child can then design whatever pattern they would like by gluing the colored construction paper pieces on the black construction paper. They will then end up with a craft that resembles a traditional African quilt! While doing this craft, you can additionally discuss the contributions of the historical figure that is on your child’s quilt.
4. Make a traditional African American dish.
More commonly known under the name “soul foods”, African-inspired cuisine has been a favorite of people of all cultures. A good way to celebrate Black History Month is by making a delicious traditional African American dish as a family. One healthy recipe that you can try is this Turkey Sausage Stuffed Collard Green Wraps recipe by Beautiful Eats & Things. Collard greens are a staple of Southern dishes and are super nutritious as well. These leafy greens provide you with Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and fiber, among many other nutrients, making this a dish that is beneficial for all of your body systems!
5. Donate and support Black-owned businesses.
If you have the means, consider donating funds to organizations like Black Lives Matter and the Equal Justice Initiative. By donating, you are able to show your support towards ending racism and empower Black voices. One other way that you can empower Black voices is by supporting their local businesses. Black-owned businesses are being affected not only because of the pandemic but also because of long-standing systemic racism. By using your buying power, you can show your support for the Black community. Here is a list of Black-owned businesses in the Austin area.
Don't forget, the conversation on race and equity doesn't have to end after February. We encourage you to continue sharing, talking, and educating yourself and your family all year long. Leave a comment and let us know what you're talking about with your little ones!
Beautiful Eats & Things. (2018, February 1). Turkey sausage stuffed collard green wraps + BHM virtual potluck. https://www.beautifuleatsandthings.com/2018/02/01/turkey-sausage-stuffed-collard-green-wraps/
Carter, C. M. (2021, January 21). How to celebrate Black History Month with kids. Parents. https://www.parents.com/kids/responsibility/racism/how-to-celebrate-black-history-month-with-kids/
Celebrating Black History Month: Creative ways for schools & importance for kids, purpose. (2021, February 8). Educational Apps for Kids: Math, English, STEM | Pre-k to 3d Grade. https://www.kidsacademy.mobi/storytime/celebrating-black-history-month/
Gleason, J. (n.d.). 29 days of crafts for Black History Month. Creative Child Magazine. https://www.creativechild.com/articles/view/29-days-of-crafts-for-black-history-month