February is Black History Month. Make it a memorable month with hands-on learning and fun. These activities will introduce your kiddos to Black icons in a new way making the lesson more accessible for tactile learners.
Create with Romare Bearden
Combine Romare’s love of jazz and collage with this art activity for all ages. Start by reading My Hands Sing the Blues or Me and Uncle Romie. Then cue up your fave jazz playlist and let the music move you to create a one-of-a-kind collage.
Kids will love: moving their bodies to the music as they mix media and images to make their own personal artwork.
Parents will love: the fine motor skill practice in younger kids.
What makes this project great: It’s adaptable to a wide range of ages and can be done using the art supplies you already have on hand.
Explore the Arctic with Matthew Henson
Spend time in the Arctic with the first Black man to reach the North Pole. Read I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer to learn more about Matthew’s life and adventures. Together, make DIY snow and go on your own polar adventure with some arctic figurines to inspire imaginative play.
Kids will love: the sensory experience of playing with the “snow.”
Parents will love: a snow-day activity that doesn’t require wrestling a toddler into a snowsuit!
What makes this project great: Younger children will stretch their imaginations creating an icy world for the animals. Challenge older kiddos to create habitats for the animals using the snow and items collected from nature.
Be a Poet like Langston Hughes
Introduce children to Langston Hughes, poet and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Together, read Poetry for Young People. Talk about how poems make you feel. Then write your own found poems using words and phrases cut from magazines (think DIY magnetic poetry).
Kids will love: the thrill of the hunt for just the right words in magazines.
Parents will love: a lesson in literacy that feels like an art project.
What makes this project great: Poetry sparks big feelings and can be a starting block for talking to children about emotions and how our words have power.
Cook up Cosmetics with Madam C.J. Walker
Madam C.J. Walker was an American entrepreneur and the first female self-made millionaire in the United States. Learn about her story by reading Madam C.J. Walker: The Beauty Boss. Then make your own skin care products together, like this blackberry sugar scrub or lavender coconut lotion.
Kids will love: mixing and mashing to make their own beauty products.
Parents will love: a project that combines reading (directions), math (measuring), and science.
What makes this project great: In addition to learning about a Black American icon, kids will also get a lesson in sustainability—creating products with ingredients already in the home.
Learn to Grow with George Washington Carver
Read The Secret Garden of George Washington Carver and learn about this prominent Black scientist and agriculturalist of the early 1900s. Inspire the next generation of growers by germinating seeds in a jar. This activity will give kids an up-close look at the start of a plant.
Kids will love: planting their seeds in the ground (or a larger pot) in the spring to keep growing.
Parents will love: that kids are learning the science of living things with a big lesson in patience. Plants don’t grow quickly so little ones will get plenty of practice making patient observations.
What makes this project great: This project is great for nannies or regular caregivers. After the initial set-up, there are opportunities to return for repeat observations.
Get Building with Philip Freelon
Read Dream Builder and learn about Philip Freelon, the Black architect behind the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, and many other buildings. Explore Philip’s buildings and recreate them at home using your favorite building materials.
Kids will love: a new challenge with their favorite toys.
Parents will love: creative thinking is a requirement when repurposing materials in a new way. Kids will be forced to think outside the box when figuring out how to replicate Freelon’s designs.
What makes this project great: Easily adaptable for kids of all ages, these buildings can be recreated using whatever you already have on hand: Lego, Magnatiles, popsicle sticks, cardboard or toothpicks, and marshmallows. Your imagination is the only limit.
Black History Month is one of many learning opportunities throughout the year that can enhance your child’s life through hands-on fun. Remember, though, it’s not all on you. Raising a child takes a village. If you’re feeling burnt out (or want to take action before that happens), there are options. Sittercity can help you find after-school, weekend, or regular nanny care to build a stronger community to support your family and engage your children in educational fun all year long.