Black History Month: Developing a Diverse Understanding For Children

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Black History Month, What does that mean to you? How do you share it with your family? What makes it so important?

I am appreciative of Black History Month and the focus it places on the incredibly important issues of social justice and equity that we are still working through as a country. Although February is designated as Black History Month, Black History and the concept of diversity can be acknowledged and celebrated throughout the year (Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post about diversity in the home). During the month of February, I oftentimes find myself reflecting on the activities, books, and media in which my children have been provided. During this reflection process, I ask myself if these activities have provided a window into the lives of those with different cultural experiences than their own. There is so much important history on which to reflect. In addition, there are so many amazing African American leaders from both the past and present that I look forward to highlighting with my children. Using Black History month as a launching point into this important learning is something for which I am incredibly grateful.      

Here are a few activities I have done and plan to do with my kids. 

This year we focused on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as well as Rosa Parks. I wanted to choose both a male and female historical hero. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was such an amazing man. His desire for peace and equality is a great teaching tool for all kids, all genders, all races. We read several books about him including:

 Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 I am Martin Luther King Jr (Ordinary People Change the World)

 Who was Martin Luther King Jr.?

 Of course with each book, we discussed his DREAM and then our own dreams especially in regards to kindness. We also loved doing this dream bubble activity inspired by TheKindergartenConnection.com . Check it out for a FREE printable. 

I really enjoyed reading about and discussing Rosa Parks with my children. They are pretty young and couldn’t fully understand why Rosa was not able to sit at the front of the bus. What they did understand is that she felt she needed to stand up for what was right, and they agreed with her; she should be able to sit in any free seat on the bus. This conversation led us to talk about how they could stand up for things they believe in. Of course, at ages 5 and 3, it was things like being kind to others and making sure everyone shares. 

Here are the books we read: 

Who was Rosa Parks? 

I am Rosa Parks (Ordinary People Change the World)

I struggled to find many age-appropriate paper activities related to Rosa Parks, but did find this coloring printable. 

As we worked through these various activities, I also tried to provide exposure to other individuals from both the past and present. Such as, Barack & Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou, Simone Biles and Gabby Douglas (My girls are gymnasts), Malcom X, etc. Ultimately, it is my feeling, that these varied backgrounds help my children to develop a deeper understanding of the wonderful cultural diversity in our world and prevents them from developing only a single story (Feel free to check out this great Ted Talk. The four minute mark is where it really dives in.).

Tessa Karls
Tessa is a stay at home mom of three little snackers. She has an extensive background in education. She is a UW-Madison alumni with a degree in Special Education, Prek-6 Education, a certificate in Gifted and Talented Education and a Masters degree in Educational Leadership. Now, Tessa enjoys spending time with her family, baking up a storm, playing outdoors and sharing her motherhood journey on her personal blog www.snugglesandsnacks.com as well as her Instagram @tessa.karls.

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