Why Celebrate Black History Month?
Black History Month is an important celebration in the United States. The contributions of many great African-Americans are seen throughout history. In 1962, Carter G. Woodson began our historical celebrations with a week-long national attention to the contributions of African Americans in our history. By the late 1960s, the civil rights movement and the dedication of several strong leaders motivated the country to celebrate Black History all month long. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month as a time to reflect on the contributions of many African Americans to American history. Read on for ideas on Celebrating Black History Month in Preschool.
How Can You Celebrate Black History in Your Program?
Celebrating Black History Month begins with creating a multicultural environment. Research continues to show that children who attend multicultural environments have significant advantages over those that don’t. The most important reason is that multiculturalism sparks curiosity.
Celebrating what makes every member of the early childhood environment special allows us to build significant skills for children. Children learn from one another, which builds strong character skills like tact, respect, empathy, kindness, open-mindedness, and collaboration.
Creating a multicultural environment is not difficult. Begin in February with the celebration of Black History and continue the emphasis throughout the year to celebrate what makes us all unique and special.
3 Ways to Create a Multicultural Environment
There are three main things you can do in your early childhood program to celebrate Black History and create a multicultural environment.
1. Multicultural Toys
Google “diverse toys”, you will find a large amount of resources. Adding in simple things like diverse dolls that represent many cultures, adding multi-cultural traditional music, puzzles that showcase different cultures, and hand puppets are few ideas that can encourage interactive play with multicultural toys in your program. This helps children connect real life items to history. Remember that children’s play is a direct correlation to their real life experiences adding in multicultural toys helps children in their interactions with others.
2. Read Books About the Contributions of African Americans Throughout History
Reading books to children is a wonderful way to embrace multiculturalism. During Black History Month, focusing on the contributions to our history by African Americans can showcase the importance of the content of character.
Reading books like Dream Big, Little One by Vashti Harrison introduces children to the dreams of some historical figures that changed the course of our world. These books not only introduce the contributions of others, but also empowers children to dream for themselves.
More great books to celebrate Black History:
- Parker Looks Up by Parker and Jessica Curry
- Every Little Thing by Cedella Marley
- Whistle for Willie by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Color of Us! By Karen Katz
- I am Brave! A little book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Metzler
- Follow your dreams little one by Vashti Harrison
- Shades of Black by Sandra and Myles Pinkney
There are countless books you can add to your reading area to enhance a multicultural environment for your children. Taking the time to plan out your book area introduces children to new concepts and ideas that will expand their thinking and build connections with others.
3. Add Multicultural Art Supplies and Drama Props
Add multicultural art supplies and drama props to your play space to enhance inclusiveness in your program and help you celebrate Black History.
When you plan to celebrate Black History in your program, start by thinking about who you want to showcase. There are so many great contributions of African Americans to our history!
Consider these great African American Inventors!
Sarah Madame “CJ” Walker, Inventor of the Pressing Comb
One example is Sarah Madame “CJ” Walker. Ms. Walker changed the history of hair for women through her creation of the pressing comb. Adding a “beauty salon” for dramatic play with photos of Ms. Walker introduces her as a contributor to history through a real life play environment the children can recreate. Try some Playdough Hair Styles!
Garrett Morgan, Inventor of the Stop Light
Teaching children about Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the stop light can be as easy as adding red, green and yellow paint to your art area, with photos of Mr. Morgan and a photo of a stop light.
These materials allows for open-ended process art projects that highlight the contributions of Mr. Morgan to our everyday lives. When we add items to introduce children to new concepts in a way they can relate to in their real life, the concepts are enhanced and their learning grows.
Celebrating Black History Month provides an opportunity to expand and build the concept of the children we care for every day. By adding books, multicultural toys, art supplies and dramatic play props, to your environment, you can build a multicultural program that builds character and enhances children’s knowledge of the contributions of African Americans in our history.
Here we Read! (2023). Black History Month Books for 3, 4, and 5 year olds! https://hereweeread.com/2017/02/black-history-month-books-3-4-5-year-olds.html
History Channel. (2023) Black History Month. https://www.history.com/topics/black-history/black-history-month
Mama knows it all. (n.d.) How do you talk to preschoolers about black history. https://mamaknowsitall.com/teach-preschoolers-about-black-history/#:~:text=If%20your%20goal%20is%20to,materials%20like%20encyclopedias%20and%20documentaries.