Kwanzaa is celebrate between December 26th and January 1st. It centers around the lighting of candles and is an African-American holiday based on African harvest festivals. It incorporates the seven principles of black culture as developed by M. Ron Karenga, a cultural leader. On each day of Kwanza, a different principle is discussed and often homemade gifts are exchanged. Special holiday foods are also served. Kwanza is a way to honor ancestors and celebrate the love of family.
Read with your students “Kwanzaa" by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate. It is an excellent source of Kwanzaa information for children and their teachers. It explains the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
Have students make placemats to represent the harvest theme of Kwanzaa. Begin with an 18" x 12" piece of black construction paper. Decorate the border with small red and green circles. You may use circle sponges and paint the circles, or punch/cut out circles from red and green paper. Have the children draw and color different fruits and vegetables from colored paper and cut them out to glue onto the place mat. Laminate each place mat, or cover them with clear contact paper to protect them.
You may use the student’s place mats during a classroom karamu, or feast. There are traditional African-American foods that are served during Kwanza that can be served during your feast. Collard greens represent prosperity. Black-eyed peas represent good luck. You can also serve cornbread, sweet potato pie, peach cobbler, or carrot cake. During the karamu play a recording of traditional African music.