How to talk about and celebrate Black History Month with kids

Why is it important to get kids involved with Black History month, and how? We’ll go through the why, and give you some fun activities to get little people celebrating and talking.

When is Black History Month?

Black History Month is celebrated throughout October in the UK, and in February in the US. Black History Month celebrations in the UK started in 1987, inspired by historian Carter G Woodson (1875-1950), who created Black History Month in the US in 1969.

From the 1st October up until the 31st, there are celebrations, community events, films and TV shows dedicated to Black History Month, highlighting history, achievements, culture, and much more. Each year in October, you can find loads of things to do and be a part of the celebration of Black History – although the understanding, acknowledging and honouring of Black culture and history, doesn’t have to be limited to a month!

Why is it important to celebrate Black History Month?

Since Carter G Woodson introduced Black History Month in 1969, the focus has been around highlighting and honouring the contributions and achievements of those with African and Caribbean heritage, as well as the history of inequality and injustice. 

In more recent years, movements like Black Lives Matter, have also highlighted some of the injustices that people from Black communities face (as unfortunately, some of these topics aren’t just history). Although it’s always been important for adults and children to understand, acknowledge and talk about Black History, recent social inequalities in the news and around us, make it even more important to start the conversations, and celebrate the achievements!

How to teach kids about Black History Month

It’s important to talk about and celebrate Black History Month with children (and adults), allowing them to ask questions and explore different cultures from a young age – and this shouldn’t be limited to African Caribbean heritage! When given the chance to explore and understand culture and Black History in the correct environment, children are able to understand, empathise with, and celebrate Black History.

There are lots of different ways to teach kids about and celebrate Black History. Here are some of the top ideas that we love at Koru Kids, and encourage you to try out with your little ones!

Father And Young Son Reading Book Together At Home

1. Read books and talk about the stories

There are loads of kids books that highlight Black culture and history, factual and fiction. Classics like ‘Handa’s Surprise’ by Eileen Browne, are usually staple in any classroom, library or early years setting. Books like ‘Handa’s Surprise’, about African Caribbean culture and food, provide a great opportunity to talk to kids about food from all over the world as part of Black History Month. You could even try buying some of the fruits Handa mentions and talk about how they taste! 

You can get more fact based Black History books for kids, to highlight the achievements of those with African Caribbean heritage. Some good ones are, ‘Young, Gifted and Black’ by Jamia Wilson and ‘Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History’ by Vashti Harrison.

When teaching kids about Black History Month and new cultures, use the books/activities that you’re exploring together to answer their questions and support their learning and understanding. A lot of the time, you can learn new things together! 

Have a look at this Booktrust booklist of stories that highlight Black History, and find the next book for you and your little one.

2. Creative activities

Creative activities are a great way to learn about Black History Month in a more hands-on way, as well as keeping something as a memory of the celebrations! You can enjoy making crafts, food and decorations with kids and adults, here are some of our favourite activities: 

  • Make music with ‘Steel Drums’

Make some music and imagine you’re on a beach in Jamaica using pots, pans and lids with some wooden spoons. See what sounds you and the kids can make – do they sound different or all the same? 

  • African-inspired paper plate necklace

Cut out the inside of a paper plate so you’re left with the outer circle. Use paints, colouring pencils, crayons, glitter and collaging materials to decorate an African-inspired tribal necklace. Make sure it’s nice and bright – you can wear them while you dance to your steel drum music! 

  • ‘Traffic light toast’ 

Garret Morgan invented the 3 light traffic light in 1923 in the United States. There are a few activities that you can do to celebrate Garret Morgan and his inventions, but traffic light toast is our favourite. Find something red, something yellow and something green in the kitchen, so that you can make the traffic light signals! You could use jam, banana and cucumber to make a traffic light toast or cracker – and enjoy eating it afterwards! 

Tate Modern, London

3. Community celebrations

Libraries, museums, schools and theatres in the UK all get really involved with Black History Month each year. There are loads of events and activities that you can go along to with kids, from dance classes to museum exhibitions. Reach out to your local library to see if they have anything planned, they can usually also let you know what else is going on in your local community. 

The Tate Modern and The Horniman Museum have a great range of activities lined up for Black History Month! Most museums will have something planned, check their websites or give them a call to see what’s on.

4. Talk about Black History

Although reading, cooking, creating and celebrating are great ways to honour and learn about Black History, we can’t forget to keep talking too. Encourage little ones to talk about the activities they took part in, discuss what they’ve learned, share how they feel, and ask any questions they have. The more they ask, the more they’ll learn – these resources shared by Cbeebies can be used to talk about Black History with kids, as well as these short educational clips.