Celebrate Black History Month

Dear Diary,

I can’t believe it’s February! It seems like just moments ago, our family unwrapped Christmas presents and counted down to the New Year. Our celebration continues into the month of February as we observe Black History Month. As a teacher, I want to ensure my children not only learn their history but also celebrate who they are in this world. Black History Month isn’t a time to celebrate separation. Instead, it’s a month to teach our families and other cultures about the significant contributions the African-American race made since the beginning of time. I think Carter G. Woodson put it best when he wrote, In our so-called democracy we are accustomed to give the majority what they want rather than educate them to understand what is best for them. So this month is more about unity than it is exclusion. Starting with our children, of all colors, we must eliminate ignorance, and learn to appreciate, celebrate and even understand our neighbors.

Here are 5 fun ways to celebrate Black History Month with kids.

1. Create Kente Cloth

Children of all ages enjoy looking at pictures of kente cloths and identifying the colors and patterns as you explain the significance of the cloth.

Teach your child the meaning behind the colors:
Black: maturation, intensified spiritual energy
Blue: peacefulness, harmony and love
Green: vegetation, planting, harvesting, growth, spiritual renewal
Gold: royalty, wealth, high status, glory, spiritual purity
Grey: healing and cleansing rituals; associated with ash
Maroon: the color of mother earth; associated with healing
Pink: associated with the female essence of life; a mild, gentle aspect of red
Purple: associated with feminine aspects of life; usually worn by women
Red: political and spiritual moods; bloodshed; sacrificial rites and death.
Silver: serenity, purity, joy; associated with the moon
White: purification, sanctification rites and festive occasions
Yellow: preciousness, royalty, wealth, fertility

Then create your own kente cloth with markers and paper using this activity guide.

2. Research Historical Figures

Visit your local library, surf the Internet or share information you know about well-known African-Americans and their contributions to society. Have your children draw pictures and make up stories about what they learned. They can even show the similarities between a historical figure and someone in your family. For example, Jackie Robinson’s accomplishments in Major League Baseball could be connected to the accomplishments of your child’s dad who is athletic.

3. Learn the Art of Storytelling

Not all heroes make the history books. Explain oral traditions to your child, and take time to share a story (and picture if you have it) of someone in your family. Growing up, my parents told me about an ancestor who narrowly escaped on a Mississippi riverboat before being sold as a slave on our city’s courthouse steps that still stand today.

4. Go on a Scavenger Hunt

Make a list with your child of items invented by African-Americans. Hide the items around the house, and go on a scavenger hunt. Encourage your child to say thank you to the inventor as they use the item or enjoy the service. You can find things to add to your list on BlackInventors.com. Did you know African-Americans invented the Super Soaker, a mop and a wrench?

5. Cook up Memories

A kitchen is often the place in a home where family can be found cooking and spending time together. Here’s a nice simple side dish recipe from my husband’s childhood kitchen.

Sweet Potato Casserole


2-3 medium sweet potatoes

1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 half stick of butter or margarine (softened)
1 small can of evaporated milk
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 bag of large marshmallows


Wash and peel sweet potatoes then boil on stovetop over medium heat until tender
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Drain water from sweet potatoes
In a large bowl, add sweet potatoes, egg, sugar, vanilla extract, butter or margarine, milk, and nutmeg and then mash/beat together
Spread into casserole dish or 9×13 inch baking dish
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes
Remove dish from oven with oven mitts and add marshmallows to cover the top of casserole
Return dish to oven and watch marshmallows melt
Once the marshmallows are melted, turn the oven on high broil to lightly brown (watch closely)
Once brown, remove from oven and allow time to cool slightly before serving

Hey DFTM Fam–How are you celebrating Black History Month with your children? Also, be sure to check out our Martin Luther King, Jr. book list!

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 4-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 20+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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