This Kwanzaa theme will help preschoolers learn about this weeklong celebration of the values and traditions of the African-American culture while developing preschool process skills.
This page includes preschool lesson plans, activities and Interest Learning Center ideas for your Preschool Classroom!
Kwanzaa is a Swahili word which means "first fruits of the harvest".
It is celebrated from December 26th through January 1 each year.
It began in 1966 by Dr. Maulana Karenga.
He started this holiday so African American people could learn about their African history, customs and traditions.
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Place Mat Collage-Mkeka
Make a Mkeka (em-KAY-kah)!
Materials needed: black, red and green construction paper, scissors and glue sticks.
Have the children cut the red and green paper (great scissor skill practice!).
Have them glue the paper they've cut onto the black paper. Encourage the use of patterns as well!
Print child's name on the front. Laminate. Use for snack!
During this celebration, one ear of corn--Mahindi --is used to represent each child in the family!
Materials needed: many ears of corn on the cob, shallow trays, red, green and black paint, or yellow paint, white paper
Have the children roll the corn into a tray of paint and roll onto the paper.
VARIATION: Have each child make a corn print to represent each child in their OWN family! When dry, print each child and sibling's name under each print.
Unity Cups-Kikombe cha umoha
During this celebration, each person in the family takes a sip from the same Unity Cup--the Kikombe cha umoja (kee-KOM-bay chah oo-MOH-jah) to represent being part of one people.
Materials needed: clear plastic cups (either flat bottomed or champagne shaped), fabric paints (use the holiday colors of red, green and black), glitter (optional)
Lay the cup upside down on a covered table. The children use the fabric paint to decorate. Sprinkle with glitter if desired.
VARIATION: Have children glue green, red and black tissue paper on the cup instead!
Materials needed: toilet tissue tubes; red, green and black tissue paper (or paint!); flame stencil and yellow paper
Have the children either paint a tube with one color of the paint provided or cover a tube with one color of tissue paper (red, black or green).
Have the children cut out a flame shape out of yellow paper and glue or staple to the top of the tube.
Let children either make 7 candles (3 red, 3 green and 1 black) and glue together to take home OR have them use their candles to put the candles in color order!
Provide red, green and black fingerpaint.
Have the children all make handprints on a very large piece of paper.
When done, give them their own papers to continue fingerpainting.
When dry, print the children's names on the painting.
Wrap blocks with gift paper for them to build with.
Provide black, green and red wrapping paper, scissors and tape and let the children wrap blocks!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your theme!
Materials needed: A large bag or box with the following items in it:
Show each item to the children one at a time. Pass the item around the Circle.
Have the children describe what it is, looks like, feels like, what it's used for etc.
Discuss each item with the children.
EXTENSION: Place the items at your Science/Discovery area this week for the children to explore.
VARIATION: If you don't have access to these items, make picture cards of each to use and discuss.
(Make duplicates of each card to use for the Symbol Matching game in the Math/Manipulatives section of this page!)
The More We Get Together
Day 1 of Kwanzaa is Unity. Sing this song together to remind your students of being a preschool family of friends.
Sung to the tune of Have You Ever Seen A Lassie
The more we get together, together, together,
The more we get together the happier we'll be.
Because your friends are my friends
And my friends are your friends.
The more we get together
The happier we'll be!
The 2nd day of this celebration is Kujichagulia--Self-Determination
Have the children take off one shoe and place it in a pile in the middle of Circle.
Have one child find the shoe that belongs to the friend to their right. They bring the shoe to their friend and help him or her (if she or she needs help) putting their show on.
The 3rd day of this celebration is Ujima--Responsibility.
Talk with the children about jobs that need to be done in your classroom community that they can help with.
List the names of the classroom jobs on a chart paper.
Some suggestions: "Supervisors" for each interest center (their job is to inspect their center after clean up time. If it is not truly cleaned up, they let the group know and everyone goes and helps finish cleaning it up); table washer (before snack); line leader, door holder, outdoor bag holder (they carry the bag with the attendance in it or the bag of toys you bring outside), etc.
Have children print their names on an index card.
Fold the cards and place them in a jar.
Have a child reach in and pull a card and place it next to the first job on the chart.
Continue until each child has a job.
Collection for Local Charity
The 4th day of this celebration is Ujamaa--Cooperative Economics
Talk to the children about the needs of a local organization.
Organize a donation center for your classroom and let the rest of the school know.
Some suggestions are coat collections; soup kitchen; local homeless shelter, etc.
The 5th day of this celebration is Nia--Purpose.
Hang a chart paper at Circle Time. Make 3 columns and label them:
W=Want to Learn
Under the K (Know) column, as the children to name one thing they want to learn this year.
It might be tying their shoes, counting to 100, etc.
List it with their name.
Hang the chart in the classroom for the year.
Make opportunities for the children to work on the item they listed.
Review it at the end of the year
The 6th day of this celebration is Kuumba--Creativity.
Show the children a collection of miscellaneous arts and crafts items. Ask them what they could use the items for.
Place the items at the art center for the children to create with.
Suggested items: egg cartons, yarn, sequins, recycling items, recycled paper, etc.
The 7th day of this celebration is Imani--Faith
Bring nature items to Circle Time (leaves, flowers, a frog, etc.)
If you are in a Faith-Based program, pray and discuss God's creation.
If not, discuss the items in the world and how much we appreciate them and ways to take care of them.
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation!
The 6th night of this celebration is a feast night called karamu! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific themed questions while making these fun snacks!
Provide (or ask parents to provide) different fruits for this! Include bananas, kiwi, strawberries, grapes (cut in half) orange slices (or manadarin oranges), melon pieces, etc.
Have the children help to cut the fruit up and place in a large bowl.
At snack time, have them use a large spoon to serve themselves at snack time. OR, have each child serve the friend to their right!
Use your favorite cookie dough recipe or refrigerated dough and frosting. Tint the frosting in separate bowls using red, green and black.
Have the children help you to prepare the dough.
The children decorate the cookies with the frosting.
Set up your dramatic play area as a home. Have many fruits, vegetables and holiday related items to decorate with.
More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)
Encourage the children to paint pictures of their families using water color paint.
To Help Preschoolers Build Their Muscles While Having Fun Together!
Have you ever played Mancala? It is a variation of a several games played in various parts of Africa.
It is too complex of a game for preschoolers, but how about making up a new game to play together: Mancala Ball?!
Provide several bins or laundry baskets. Label them with color cards.
Provide different colored balls. The children try to get the corresponding balls into the bins or baskets of the same color!
Do you have more Kwanzaa gross motor game ideas? Let me know!
Book Suggestions for the Library
Make 2 picture cards of each of the following items to use as a match game:
A straw mat, the unity cup, a candleholder for seven candles, seven candles (the order is three red candles on left, one black in middle and three green on right); fruits and vegetables, ears of corn, gifts
The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green. Black represents the color of the people, red for their struggles, green for their hope.
Use black, red and green pom poms, bowls and tongs.
Label the bowls with the numbers you are working on in class (or just have 7 bowls numbered 1-7 to represent the 7 days of celebration).
The children use the tongs to place the appropriate number of pom poms into each bowl.
They can sort a variety of colors into each bowl or encourage them to place same colored pom poms into each bowl.
Provide red, green and black beads and lacing strings. The children can place beads on in order of the colors of the candle (three red, 1 black, three green) or create patterns.
sung to the tune of John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt
Kwanzaa is almost here!
We celebrate first fruits,
We give thanks for our roots,
We're so glad Kwanzaa is almost here!
Kwanzaa Is Here
sung to Three Blind Mice
Red, green, black.
Red, green, black.
The decorations are quite the sight.
We light a candle every night.
The holiday is filled with light.
Kwanzaa Is It's Name-O
sung to the tune of B-I-N-G-O
There is a holiday that I know
and Kwanzaa is its name-o.
Candle lights and food so good,
All around my neighborhood.
Love and thanks for all that's good.
and Kwanzaa is its name-o!
Add unpopped popcorn kernals to your table.
Add a water wheel, measuring cups, and spoons
Place fresh corn in the table and let the children husk the corn.
Use the husked corn to eat or to paint with.
Add Kwanzaa related items for your children to explore!
Add straw or hay as well as some woven mats.
If you can, plant a tree together, as a class, in your yard or a local park.
As an alternative, provide seeds of different fruit and vegetables in your science area.
Provide magnifying glasses, tweezers and a microscope if you have one as well as paper journals and crayons.
The children can check out, compare and contrast what they see and record (through drawings) what they learn and see.
Fruits and Vegetables
Add different types of fruits and vegetables to your science area for the children to touch, smell and taste at snack time!
Extension: Open the fruits and vegetables and let the children look for seeds!
Materials needed: Principle labels (described below); red, green, black paper; marker (or handprint stencil); scissors; glue sticks.
There are 7 principles of this celebration. Make small labels for each one of them with a suggestion for completing each one at home. Make one set for each child:
7 Principles of Kwanzaa
The children trace their own hand or trace a handprint using the stencil. They should make 7 (you may need to help with this or ask a parent to help*).
The children print their name as best they can on each hand.
Glue the hands in a wreath shape.
Glue one Principle on each hand.
Hole punch the top and add some yarn for them to hang up at home.
*Have the children trace their hand at least once. Ask in advance for parent volunteers to take them home and cut out 7 hands for each child.
I'd recommend the colors of the candle: 3 green, 1 black, 3 red. However, you could just put them in any order the chilren want to place them in!