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Celebrate Black History Month with your kids

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                                                                Honor African Americans and their positive impact on American history and culture during African American History Month with a study of Africa, African folktales, and African Americans. Enjoy these activities at home or in the classroom.

Mankala, Traditional African Game

What you need: egg carton, tempera paint/paint brushes, beans

Have each child remove the lid from an egg carton and paint the egg cups traditional African colors (red,green, black, yellow).  Let dry.  One version of this game is played like this: Have children put four beans into each cup.  The first player begins by taking all the beans from any cup.  Beginning with the next cup and moving counterclockwise, he or she drops a bean into each cup and then takes the beans from the cup into which the last bean fell.  That player continues in the same direction, empties any cup and drops a bean into each cup. If that player's last bean falls into a cup with three beans, he or she wins all the beans in that cup.  But if any bean other than the last bean falls into a cup of three, the first player wins all the beans from that cup.  The second player continues playing until the last bean falls into an empty cup.  Players alternate turns until four or fewer beans are left in the carton.  The player with the most beans wins.

African Canvases

What you will need: My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me by Maya Angelou, 8" (20 cm) burlap squares, tempera paint/paint brushes

Share the book My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me with children (find this book at a local Baltimore library).  Discuss some of the differences and similarities between African and American cultures.  Show children pictures of African canvases from the book.  Have children paint their own African canvases on burlap squares.  Display canvases on their art wall or cork board.

African Bracelets

What you will need: 9" (23cm) leather strips, black, red, green and yellow beads

Ask children to each think of four things that are important to them and choose a color to represent each of those things.  Explain that Africans have four colors that represent important things to them-black for the people, red for blood, green for land, and yellow for sun.  Invite children to make African bracelets using colored beads.  Ask each child to thread a black bead on a leather strip and tie a knot.  Then have each child add a red, green and yellow bead, tying knots between each bead.  Invite children to tie their African bracelets to their wrists as a reminder of Africa and its people.

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