One culturally exciting holiday during the winter months is Kwanzaa.
This holiday at the end of the December is traditionally a way
for those of African heritage to celebrate their diversity. Below
are some exciting activities that you can incorporate into your
1. Your traditions
Whether they celebrate Kwanzaa or not, every family has its own
traditions. Have students write an essay on their family traditions
and why they believe they are special.
2. Create bookmarks
Traditionally, books are a gift given at Kwanzaa. You can have
students design bookmarks to go along with Kwanzaa themes or their
favorite story to share with family and friends.
3. Decorate unity cups
One of the traditional symbols of Kwanzaa is the unity cup. As
part of your Kwanzaa celebration, you can have students decorate
cups to hang around your classroom. Have students draw cups on
paper or make three dimensional ones out of clay.
4. Create a Kwanzaa scrapbook
Like many holidays, Kwanzaa is often about getting together with
family and sharing memories. Have students create a memory scrapbook
of important holiday moments to share with the class. Another
option is to have students design one page and form your own book
for the entire class.
5. Stamps for the holidays
The U.S. Post office issues stamps for many of the holidays,
including Kwanzaa. You can have students create a special stamp
that captures the spirit of Kwanzaa or other winter holiday. Have
students check out this year's designs for inspiration.
6. Kwanzaa place mats
Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase that means "first fruits."
Thus, eating is part of the celebration. You can have students
weave their own mkeka, a traditional placemat. Use whatever materials
you have handy, provided that they are in the traditional colors
of red, green, and black.
7. Send a greeting
Since one of the major principles in Kwanzaa is about leaving
the community better than you found it, you can use this opportunity
to spread some holiday cheer. Have students design festive Kwanzaa
cards for a local shelter, nursing home, or hospital. 8. Have
a feast There is hardly a better way to introduce students to
a new culture than with food. Have your students create their
own Kwanzaa feast, or design menus of foods that they would like
9. The meaning of Kwanzaa
Kwanzaa is based on seven main principles: unity, self-determination,
collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose,
creativity, and faith. Have students write an essay or draw a
picture of what these ideas mean to them, or how they can promote
these ideas in their day to day lives.
10. What is in a holiday?
Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa all take place around the same
time of year, and many people tend to lump the three together.
Have students look up the three separate holidays and compare
how they are similar or different. This is a good way to introduce
or refresh the Venn diagram so that students have a visual aid
of the differences. Older children can be asked to write out a
compare and contrast essay.