Day 4: Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
This principle is about building up and maintaining friend- and family-owned businesses together.
A popular craft for the classroom is creating a Kwanzaa mat, or mkeka. The woven placemat is used as a foundation for other Kwanzaa symbols like the kinara or corn, and can be replicated by your students by cutting strips of green and red construction paper and weaving them through a black paper.
Start by cutting 5–10 lines across the black paper, making sure to leave an uncut border around the outside of the paper. This can be easily achieved by folding the paper in half and cutting partially through the paper in even lines.
Cut out strips of red and green paper, and then weave them in and out of the black paper, alternating the dark and colorful squares.
Day 5: Nia (Purpose)
Corn Math Activity
Building and developing community are at the heart of this principle.
Muhindi, or corn, is another important symbol of Kwanzaa, representing the children either in the household or the community.
A good Kwanzaa classroom activity, whether you are teaching virtually or
in-person, is a math lesson with popcorn. All the students need is one
bag of popcorn. Once it is cooked, they can count up the kernels that popped, kernels that popped halfway, and those that did not pop at all. How many kernels were in the entire bag? Does their bag have more
or less kernels than their classmates' bags?
The best part is, once they are done adding up their popcorn, they get to eat it!
Day 6: Kuumba (Creativity)
Unity Cup Seedlings
Using creativity by adding beauty to the community is the sixth
principle of Kwanzaa. A unity cup, or kikombe cha umoja, is another
important symbol of Kwanzaa and is used to connect the family before
honoring the history of important African Americans.
In order to help give back to the community and teach students about a
plant’s germination, have them decorate a plastic cup with paint the
colors of Kwanza—red, green, and black. Have them fill the cup halfway
with dirt or soil and then plant a seed. Herbs like basil, parsley, or
oregano will grow the easiest in the plastic cups. Once the seed is
watered, have them observe their plant until it sprouts. Once their
plant is big enough, they can either plant it in a larger pot for their
family or add it to a community garden!
Day 7: Imani (Faith)
Zawadi Card or Scrapbook
Faith is the final principle of Kwanzaa—not only faith in parents and community leaders but also in teachers.
On the final day of Kwanzaa, family members may give gifts, or
Zawadi, to kids celebrating Kwanzaa. For this activity, children can
make a "Joyous Kwanzaa" card for a family member or multiple family members. They
can use markers, crayons, printer paper, or whatever they have on hand
in the classroom or at home. Simply fold a paper in half, and then
decorate the front and the inside with drawings and well wishes.
For a more involved project, have students print out photos of their
family. Staple four pieces of craft paper—red, green, and black if
available—together along one side to create a book. Using a glue stick,
add the photos to the paper to create a scrapbook. Once the photos are
glued down, students may want to add further decoration to the cover and
around the photographs.
Use these Kwanzaa lesson plans and activities to help your young students learn everything they need to know about the weeklong holiday. Maybe some of them will even decide to celebrate it with their families in the future!
Find more classroom resources and activities on Shaped.