Juneteenth History and Ideas for Parents and Teachers

Image Credit: National Juneteenth Observance Foundation.

Juneteenth is celebrated in many states on June 19th each year. The first Juneteenth was on June 19th, 1865. Juneteenth is primarily celebrated in African American communities and commemorates the oldest known celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation which signified the beginning of the process of slavery becoming illegal in the United States which culminated with the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution. The fight for full freedom and equality continues to this day. Here is a video for kids from PBS that gives an overview of the history of Juneteenth. This video lacks nuance but is a good place to start.

A lot of us, myself included, do not know a lot about the history of the enslavement of Africans. I would recommend this article from Teaching Tolerance to get a general overview. I would recommend reading Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi for a more thorough education. I am in the middle of listening to it on the library’s Hoopla app and it is compelling!

Juneteenth is now a day to celebrate African American culture and heritage as well as acknowledge and reflect on the history of slavery, racism, and the resilience of African Americans in the past and today. Here is a video from PBS of a Juneteenth celebration in Colorado.

Here is a great article from Indy’s Child with ideas for families or teachers to get started learning about and celebrating Juneteenth. There are easy activity ideas, suggested children’s books and links to virtual Juneteenth celebrations. I love their ideas for making a Juneteenth flag, enjoying music, and having red foods as simple ways to celebrate!

Here is the official Juneteenth website as well.

Some things to consider when talking to your child about slavery and racism. A lot of this information I learned from The Conscious Kid.

  • DO- Use the terms “enslaved Africans” and “en-slavers”.
  • DON’T- Use the terms “slaves”, “slave owners”, “slave masters”, or vague terms like “people who were slaves”, or “people who had slaves”.
  • DO- Tell kids that many enslaved Africans freed themselves by escaping and running away from their enslavers. They became “self-emancipated” or “self-liberated”.  Enslaved Africans also found ways to resist enslavement like breaking tools or pretending to be sick. Make sure to emphasize the humanity and bravery of enslaved Africans.
  • DON’T- Tell your children untrue facts like “Abe Lincoln freed all the slaves”, or “everyone celebrated the end of slavery.” Avoid making a happy ending or making enslavement and enslavers sound better than they were.  It is hard to tell kids painful and ugly truths but perpetuating myths is very harmful.
  • DO- Brush up on your own knowledge of history so you can be accurate with your children and say you don’t know when you don’t know. This is a slow process of learning and unlearning. Start where you are and feel good about moving forward.
  • DON’T- Avoid talking about the subjects of slavery and racism with your children because it is hard, or because they are too young. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to share all the gruesome details. You can be factual and empowering!

I hope everyone has a great Juneteenth!

 

Talking to Your Kids about Race and Racism

Photo Credit: John Cameron from Unsplash.com

Those of us lucky enough to have kids in our lives have a constant source of inspiration. Kids are naturally curious, question asking, loving, open-hearted, emotional, and deeply concerned with what is fair and what is just.

It can be really hard to look these lovely tiny humans in the eyes and talk to them about race and racism. We don’t want them to know how the world may treat them if they have black or brown skin. If they are white, we don’t want them to know the atrocities that are part of the legacy of white supremacy. We don’t want them to know about our own issues, bias, and limitations.

I cannot overemphasize how important to do your own work and grow as an individual if you are a parent or teacher guiding children in how to be a human and how to be anti racist. So if you are reading, listening, feeling your feelings, donating, following/joining organizations, writing, protesting, or thinking, you are doing the work! Each person’s work will look different. Do what feels right and keep trying!

Here is a video for parents about talking about racism with their kids. This also is helpful for my fellow teachers to watch. To follow up, I would recommend following The Conscious Kid, Ibram Kendi, and Diverse Reads. I would also recommend reading the chapter on how racism in NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. The rest of the book is also fascinating!

I would also recommend watching this video from The Tutu Teacher that she made for her kinders defining racism, how kids can help, and reading a kid friendly story, Let’s Talk about Race by Julius Lester.  Watch it with your child and see what they think!

Wishing you well as always!

Thanksgiving

We enjoyed learning about Thanksgiving! We read some funny, silly, and inspiring Thanksgiving books.  The Thankful Book taught us how to be thankful for something everyday. Duck for Turkey Day taught us that everyone can celebrate Thanksgiving in a special and unique way.

Thanksgiving is a tricky holiday to teach about because of it’s historical context. There is a lot of mythology around the history of “the first Thanksgiving” that is untrue and disrespectful to Native Americans. Here is an article that adults can read to learn a little more about this The class talked only briefly about this history because it is pretty gruesome and pretty violent. We did not dwell on that but it is important for kids to know that Native Americans had been living in North American for thousands of years before Europeans decided they wanted the continent for themselves. It is also important for students to know that Native Americans still live in the United States!

Instead of dwelling on the history, we spend a little time learning about Native American history on this interesting website. Here is a link to another article written for teachers you may find helpful if you are interested in socially responsible ways to teach your child about Thanksgiving or if you would like more information for yourself.

We also enjoyed a Cherokee story of gratitude!

 

Our Classroom

The classroom is well on its way to becoming OUR classroom! I purposely leave the room a bit bare at the beginning of the year so the kids can be involved in making the room a place for them.

The kids made name tags, name art and paintings. We displayed the kids pictures as well as pictures of each child’s family. I love to see the classroom transform each year into a unique space that is special to all of us!

A Peek into our Classroom: Heggerty and Fundations

This post is designed to give you background and information related to different activities we do in kindergarten and the purpose each activity serves. Hopefully you will find this behind the scenes view helpful in understanding what and how your child learns at school.

Heggerty

Heggerty is a series of activities designed to teach children phonemic awareness. We call our Heggerty activities “sound games”. We play sound games to help the kids learn to hear and manipulate sounds in words. We use actions to make the games feel playful. It is important to note that phonemic awareness is all related to sounds and is oral and verbal. There are not visual components and letters are not used. Phonemic awareness is a pre phonics skill. In other words, kids need to be able to do things like rhyme, break apart sounds in words, and blend sounds together before they apply that knowledge to print. Sound games involve noticing if words rhyme or not, counting words in a sentence, saying the beginning or ending sound in a word, and breaking compound words apart and putting compound words together. We will practice more difficult skills as the year progresses and keep breaking words down into smaller and smaller parts.

Fundations

Fundations primarily teaches phonics. This is where we connect sounds to print. We call this “letter time”. We will focus on a few letters each week during the first trimester as well as practicing letters we learned in previous weeks. We use large motor and fine motor activities to teach kids the letter name, the keyword (that helps us know the letters sound) and the letters sound. We work on forming the letters on the lines using specific phrases. Fundations is very repetitive to help the kids become automatic with their phonics and handwriting skills so these skills will become routine and easy. As the year progresses we will learn more about other phonics concepts and applying phonics to reading and writing. Here is a video that shows all the letters, keywords and sounds we practice. Feel free to use this with your child at home to practice- just listen and repeat each letter/keyword/sound!

 

Eat the Rainbow Party!

What a fun, colorful, delicious day we had! Thanks to everyone who sent in party items!

We had a yummy spread of colorful fruits and vegetables. The kids served themselves and chose foods to try. We discovered new favorites and found a few things we did not care for. The kids loved tasting and kept lining up for more!

We also played “Layla take my picture” while doing silly things with our food.

We drew a variety of fruits and veggies of different colors and displayed them in our room to remind us of all the yummy choices we have to eat.

We also used rainbow colors to make paper chain accessories! It was great to see how far the kids have come with both their focus skills and their fine motor skills. This is a hard craft that most of the kids would have struggled with at the beginning of the year. We are expert cutters, gluers, and problem solvers!

Happy Spring!

Here is a little sunshine on this dreary first day of spring!

We did a few things to celebrate the day including delivering flowers to teachers around the school and wishing them a happy spring! We had to do some problem solving to figure out how many flowers we had because I bought 3 packages of 12. The kids used some awesome strategies to figure out how many flowers we had. We made a list of teachers, principals, secretaries, lunch ladies, and custodians around the school and the kids each gave someone a flower.

This is the Dream!

We have had a busy week reading about Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. These are big ideas and tough to understand at this age. Especially since kindergartners are so naturally open hearting and loving.

We are proud that even though there are still people in the world who are not kind to others who look different, we help Dr. King’s dream come true each day!

This is the dream…

Family Traditions

We are having a great time learning about the family traditions in our class. The kids are doing a great job using a speaking voice to share about their tradition as well as listening respectfully when others are sharing. It is fun to hear the big variety of traditions in our class, make connections, and learn something new about each other. If your child has not brought in their things to share, please send it sometime this week.

Love

It was a very loving week this week. We read Love by Micheal De La Pena which is about the various little ways love shows up in our lives. In good times and bad, as well as in everyday acts. The book is beautifully illustrated by Loren Long with multi culture images of all kinds of families and all kinds of people. The kids enjoyed the book and we were quiet and contemplative while I read it to them.

The kids were happy to share the love by sharing the valentines they had prepared for their friends.

Channing said, ” I like giving even better than I like getting!”

Sammy said…