PBS–Teaching children about the historical accomplishments and struggles of African Americans benefits everyone. By connecting children with history, they’ll gain a better understanding of themselves no matter what color they are. And, they’ll learn to develop compassion for other people.
In the spirit of honoring African American pioneers and landmark events in black history, engage your children in activities that capture their senses. Whether reading books, listening to music or making soulful meals, there are plenty of fun ways for kids to learn about the African American experience. And remember, your children can enjoy these activities long after February is over.
Read some books.
Libraries and bookstores offer a variety of books related to black history. Whether focusing on slavery, the civil rights movement or something in between, books are available for toddlers to tweens. Check out our book recommendations.
Feed your souls.
Kids may not like everything, but they’ll often try different things. Perhaps it’s time to cook up a pot of southern-style black-eyed peas. Or, your little ones might like to help bake an old-fashioned peach cobbler. Preparing dishes that are true to African American heritage is an appetizing way to experience black history.
Experience the performing arts.
There’s nothing like experiencing a live performance. Dance troupes and concerts are exciting for kids of all ages. Older ones may also enjoy poetry readings or plays. Libraries, community centers and schools usually offer these types of events for little or no cost.
Grow a family tree.
Ever thought about celebrating your own history? Kids love projects. Start digging around together to uncover family members from long ago. This takes time and a bit of research, but the results will be cherished forever. Visit our Expert Q & A with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for ideas on how to begin.
Put your hands on history.
Historical places that are linked to various periods in black history can be found across the country. Visit the home of Frederick Douglass or John Coltrane. Stand beside a statue honoring Buffalo Soldiers or Billie Holiday. Pop in a museum dedicated to African American Heritage. Finding out what’s near you is just a few clicks away.
Bop around with jazz.
Nothing gets kids moving like music. Suggest they take a break from their usual CDs and expose them to jazz. This music genre has deep roots in African American history and culture. The cool rhythms will have them (and you) foot-tapping and finger-snapping in no time! See the PBS KIDS Jazz site for some jazzy activities.
Seek out elderly friends or relatives.
Access to first-hand accounts of black history may be closer than you think. Brainstorm with children (if they’re old enough) to create a list of elders you know. Then start asking. Maybe there’s a neighbor who marched in support of civil rights. Perhaps one of the men working at your local barber shop couldn’t drink from a water fountain because he was “colored.” Not only will your children be able to experience “living” black history, but they’ll likely make the storyteller’s day.
Visit PBS Parents for more.