Penny and the Magic Puffballs

By Alonda Williams

How do you celebrate Kwanzaa?

In my family, I wanted to make sure my kids understood Kwanzaa and attached meaning to it. So I did what I could to create traditions.  We did several things . 

1.We made sure to decorate in order to set the tone . We made sure our Kinara was out and lit each day. We had fruits and vegetables- especially corn in a basket on the table. We hung ribbons and a small Kwanzaa banner. 

2. We dedicated time each day to talk about each of the Nguzo Saba and we did a small activity. When my children were younger we did crafts. When they got older we had  deeper conversations and more mature activities.  

3. We attended Kwanzaa events or created our own. We might invite other families over for a celebratory dinner and share small handmade gifts. 

Here are a few additional ways you might celebrate with your family. Excerpt from

Kwanzaa Activities for Kids

 Kwanzaa is the  weeklong celebration from December 26 to January 1. First celebrated in 1966, most of Kwanzaa’s festivities, from the lighting of candles to the giving of gifts, are meant to celebrate African culture. The heartfelt thoughts and principles of the holiday are worth learning and these Kwanzaa activities for kids can make the learning fun.

Offer a simple explanation. Kwanzaa is a holiday that celebrates African-Americans’ ancestral roots. Tell your kiddo that it’s a festival that “helps us remember where we come from and what we value most, like family and work.” Each day of the seven-day celebration is dedicated to one of the Nguzo Saba, the seven principles of African heritage: unity, self-determination, responsibility, cooperative economics (you can explain it as the community coming together like a family), purpose, creativity, and faith. 

They’re big ideas, but you can use traditional Kwanzaa symbols to show your little one what they mean. Putting fruits and vegetables on the table, for instance, gives you a concrete way to talk about how our ancestors harvested crops so they could take care of themselves.

Make a Kwanzaa craft. Give toddlers and preschoolers a hand in the festivities with a simple Kwanzaa craft.

For toddlers: Your toddler can make a flag with the traditional Kwanzaa colors — black, red, and green. Here’s how: Cut an 8″ by 11″ paper in thirds and have her finger-paint one strip red, one black, and one green. When the strips dry, help her tape or glue them onto another sheet of paper. Display the flag on the wall, fridge, or as part of your Kwanzaa centerpiece.

For preschoolers: For seven nights, families light a candle in a special candle holder called a kinara. Before your cutie is ready to light the real thing, give her a safer craft version. Start by having your child wrap strips of red tissue paper around an empty toilet-paper roll and stick them on with glue or Mod Podge (an all-in-one glue and finish). Repeat the process with red, green, and black tissue paper until you have three red candles, three green candles, and one black candle. Now “light” them by gluing on tufts of orange or yellow tissue-paper flames. Stand your “candles” in a basket for a great centerpiece.
For both: Ears of corn, or muhindi, are ever-present during Kwanzaa — the ears symbolize children, the stalk their parents. Since most tots are already fans of corn on the cob, yours will probably love this craft version. Start by snipping yellow construction paper into a cob shape. Then let your tot glue freeze-dried corn pieces or smaller pieces of yellow construction paper onto it — a small plastic cup of glue and a Q-tip makes the process easier for tiny fingers to manage. Attach a stalk made out of green construction paper to the cob and your munchkin’s muhindi masterpiece is complete

Snack on Kwanzaa-colored foods. The foods associated with this holiday often represent both African bounty and traditional Southern dishes, so feel free serving up anything from sweet potatoes and peanut stew to fried chicken and collard greens. But for a kid-friendly snack, set out a mini muffin tray filled with finger foods in Kwanzaa colors, like black pitted olive halves, red apple and bell pepper slices, and green edamame and grape halves. Bowls of sweet and savory dips (try mixing plain yogurt with herbs or a bit of brown sugar) will keep your kids munching happily.

Kwanzaa activities

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This entry was posted on December 30, 2016 by .
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