Kwanzaa Theme for Preschool

This Kwanzaa theme for preschool will help preschoolers learn about this week long 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!

You'll find more themes to help you with your planning on my preschool themes page.

Kwanzaa Preschool Theme

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.

Let the Kwanzaa Theme planning begin!

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.

Themed Art

Kwanzaa Preschool Theme Art Activity

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!

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!

Friendship Hand prints

Provide red, green and black finger paint.

Have the children all make hand prints on a very large piece of paper. 

When done, give them their own papers to continue finger painting.

When dry, print the children's names on the painting.

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Block Center Ideas

Gift Blocks

Wrap blocks with gift paper for them to build with.

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Circle Time

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!

Speak Swahili

Materials needed:  A large bag or box with the following items in it:

  1. Straw mat- Mkeka (em-KAY-kah)
  2. Unity cup- Kikombe cha umoja (kee-KOM-bay chah oo-MOH-jah)
  3. Candle holder for the 7 candles- Kinara (kee-NAH-rah)
  4. The 7 candles (3 red on left, black in middle, 3 green on right)- Mishumaa saba (mee-shoo-MAH SAH-bah)
  5. Fruits and vegetables- Mazao (mah-SAH-o)
  6. Ears of corn- Mahindi (ma-HEEN-dee)
  7. Gifts- Sawadi (zah-WAH-de)

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!

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.

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Ideas to Transform Your Dramatic Play Area

Feast Time!

Set up your dramatic play area as a home.  Have many fruits, vegetables and holiday related items to decorate with.

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Ideas for Your Easel--

More Than Just Painting (Although that is always THE favorite in our classroom!)

Family Portrait

Encourage the children to paint pictures of their families using water color paint.

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Large Group Games

To Help Preschoolers Build Their Muscles While Having Fun Together!

Mancala Ball

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!

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Library Activities for Your Preschool Classroom

Book Suggestions for the Library

(I LOVE Amazon, and some of the links below will take you to the Amazon website.  If you do choose to purchase yours through Amazon, they do send me a few cents--which supports my coffee habit! )

The Gifts of Kwanzaa by Synthia Saint James

Imani's Gift At Kwanzaa (Multicultural Celebrations) by Denise Burden-Patmon

Kwanzaa (Circle the Year With Holidays) by Janet Riehecky

Kwanzaa by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate

Kwanzaa (On My Own Books) by A. P. Porter

My First Kwanzaa Book by Deborah M. Newton Chocolate

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Activities to Help Your Preschoolers Develop Their Math Skills and the Small (Fine) Muscles In Their Hands!

Kwanzaa Preschool Theme Color Matching

Color Matching

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.

Bead Necklaces

The colors of Kwanzaa are black, red and green.  Black represents the color of the people, red for their struggles, green for their hope. 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.

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Music and Movement Activities and Ideas to Get Your Preschoolers Movin' and Groovin'!

Spell It!

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.

Kwanzaa's here.

Kwanzaa's here.

The decorations are quite the sight.

We light a candle every night.

The holiday is filled with light.

Kwanzaa's here.

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Activities for Your Sand and Water Table!

Corn Husking

Place fresh corn in the table and let the children husk the corn.

Use the husked corn to eat or to paint with.

Holiday Investigations!

Add Kwanzaa related items for your children to explore!

Add straw or hay as well as some woven mats.

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Science Activities for Your Preschool Scienctists in Training!

Seed Sorting

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!

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Writing Activities Ideas!

Kwanzaa Preschool Theme Writing Activity

Handprint Wreaths

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

  1. Umoja (oo-MOO-jah) Unity  Have a family game night 
  2. Kujichagulia (koo-jee-chah-goo-LEE-ah) Self-Determination   Encourage your child to complete a skill on their own (putting on own coat, putting on shoes, brushing own teeth, etc.)
  3. Ujima (oo-JEE-mah)  Responsibility  Cleaning up their toys or taking on a household chore they usually do not do (feeding pet, loading dishwasher, sorting laundry, etc.)
  4. Ujamaa (oo-jah-MAH)  Cooperative Economics--  Collect items for a local shelter or hospital
  5. Nia (NEE-ah)   Purpose   Discuss and write a chart of what they want to be when they grow up or something they want to learn to do this year.
  6. Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah)  Creativity   Provide recycled items and encourage your child to create something.
  7. Imani  (ee-MAH-nee)  Faith   Talk about your family's faith together and start a devotional time to have each week.

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!

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