Top 10 Tips for Incorporating Kwanzaa Themes in Your Classroom

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 classroom.

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 to try.

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.