The 7 principles of Kwanzaa for kids and how do you explain Kwanzaa to a child with Kwanzaa lesson plans and kids activities. In learning about Kwanzaa, we’ll discuss the seven principles of Kwanzaa, have fun with Kwanzaa activities, discuss who celebrates Kwanzaa and go deeper into the celebration of pan-African culture to understand and honor African and African American heritage with food, traditions, children’s books and more! Great if you’ve been wondering how do you teach kids about Kwanzaa or looking for holiday lesson plans.
Kwanzaa for Kids for Holiday Activities and Lessons
What is a simple explanation of Kwanzaa and how do you explain the meaning of Kwanzaa for kids? We’ll cover the holiday that celebrates and honors African heritage, family values, and culture! Great for Kwanzaa kids activities and Kwanzaa teaching resources.
What Kwanzaa is for children and what is Kwanzaa holiday…
How do you explain Kwanzaa to a child?
Kwanzaa celebrates African American culture. The holiday starts on December 26th each year and ends on January 1st. Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday celebration that honors pan-African heritage, African-American culture, and unity through seven core principles, one for each day of the celebration. There are Kwanzaa activities for adults and kids as a family. Traditions include exchanging gifts and a feast based on traditional African harvest festivals. For many, Kwanzaa is an additional celebration to Christmas, not something that replaces Christmas.
How do you explain Kwanzaa to kids:
- Sing Kwanzaa children’s songs
- Learn about the 7 principles of Kwanzaa for kids
- Make Kwanzaa cookies or a traditional Kwanzaa dish
- Discuss the Kwanzaa symbols and meanings
- Do a kwanzaa mkeka paper mat craft
- Make a DIY Kwanzaa Kinara
- Play a game with Kwanzaa kid friendly facts (Kwanzaa trivia) to help them better understand this holiday and the Kwanza definition (play Kwanzaa bingo as a fun Kwanzaa quiz!)
- Read books about Kwanzaa for kids
- Play Kwanzaa I Spy
- Dip candles to make your own Kwanzaa candle
- Learn how to light Kwanzaa candles
- Understand Kwanzaa unity
- Learn about Kwanzaa values
- Watch videos about Kwanzaa
- Discuss the history of Kwanzaa for kids and answer what Kwanzaa
- Do a first fruits of the harvest craft
- Review the symbols of Kwanzaa
- Include the meaning of Kwanzaa for kids
- Play Kwanzaa games and activities with family
- Discuss the differences between Kwanzaa vs Christmas and Kwanzaa vs Hanukkah
Keep scrolling for our 7 principles of Kwanzaa printable activities packet below and ideas for how to create a Kwanzaa lesson plan (even Kwanzaa lesson plan for preschoolers ideas!).
IMPORTANT: As with learning about anything of cultural importance, it’s important to remain respectful to the principals of the holiday and culture.
What are the seven principles of Kwanzaa?
There are seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba. The seven candles, or the mishumaa saba, each stand for a different principle.
What do the 7 candles in Kwanzaa stand for?
Kwanzaa 7 Principles:
- Umoja: Unity.
- Kujichagulia: Self-Determination.
- Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility.
- Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics.
- Nia: Purpose.
- Kuumba: Creativity.
- Imani: Faith.
What order do you light Kwanzaa candles?
The black candle is the first Kwanzaa candle lit in the kinara, or Kwanzaa candles holder. The next candle lit is the red candle on the end and it alternatives between the red and green candles, left to right, working outward in. One candle is lit each night of Kwanzaa, so the first night you’ll do Kwanzaa Umoja activities, the second night of Kwanzaa you’ll do Kuji, etc.
Kwanzaa Daily Activities: Order You Light Kwanzaa Candles for the Kwanzaa 7 Days
- Kwanzaa Day 1: Black Candle for Umoja
- Kwanzaa Day 2: Red Candle (left side on the end) for Kuji.
- Kwanzaa Day 3: Green Candle (right side on end) for Ujima.
- Kwanzaa Day 4: Red Candle (next to the previously lit Red Candle) for Ujamaa.
- Kwanzaa Day 5: Green Candle (back on right side next to previously lit green candle) for Kwanzaa Nia.
- Kwanzaa Day 6: Last Red Candle for Kuumba.
- Kwanzaa Day 7: Last Green Candle for Imani.
On the last night of Kwanzaa, the entire family enjoys a huge feast (karumu), drinks from the Unity Cup, and then extinguishes the candles.
Is Kwanzaa real?
Kwanzaa is a real holiday that started in 1966 as a way to bring African Americans together in a supportive community environment and celebrate heritage instead of observing Christmas.
How many days of Kwanzaa?
There are seven day of Kwanzaa, with each day represented by specific Kwanzaa principles for that day (known as the Kwanzaa seven principles) which correspond to to the lighting of a specific candle for that day.
When does Kwanzaa start?
Which day does Kwanzaa start? The day varies each year, but starts on the same date each year. Kwanzaa is seven days long and starts on the same date every year: December 26. It runs through January 1st as the last day.
When is Kwanzaa 2022?
The Kwanzaa date for this year is December 26th through January 1st. Kwanzaa starts on Sunday, Monday 26, 2022, and ends on Sunday, January 1, 2023.
Here are ways to learn about Kwanzaa for kids and kwanzaa explained easily. Read on for Kwanzaa interesting facts!
History of Kwanzaa for Kids and Kwanzaa Facts for Kids
When doing lessons for Kwanzaa or kids activities, be sure to include the background Kwanzaa information along with a Kwanzaa explanation for part of African winter holidays.
Who started Kwanzaa?
Who created Kwanzaa and the Kwanzaa holiday? The Kwanzaa origin came from Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966. Karenga is a professor of Africana studies and created Kwanzaa to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”
Karenga has admitted that he initially created Kwanzaa to replace Christmas because he viewed Christianity as a “white religion” and blacks should not take part in it.
However, over the years he adapted his viewpoint when he realized that many black Christian families still wanted to celebrate the basic principles of Kwanzaa and honor African heritage, while also honoring their Christian beliefs.
Today, many families — Christians and non-Christians alike — celebrate Kwanzaa in addition to Christmas or other religious or secular ceremonies for their family during this time. For many, it is not a religious nor a political holiday.
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Why is Kwanzaa important?
According to the Anacostia Community Museum:
“Kwanzaa is that time when we reflect on our use of the basic principles, share and enjoy the fruits of our labor, and recommit ourselves to the collective achievement of a better life for our family, our community, and our people. There are symbols which have a special meaning to the celebration of Kwanzaa.”
Who celebrates Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa is celebrated mainly by some African and African American families as a celebration of life and harvest. However, Kwanzaa can be celebrated by any family who wants to celebrate and honor the basic principles of the holiday.
Do you say Happy Kwanzaa?
Kwanzaa greetings are much like other holiday greetings. You can wish people “Happy Kwanzaa” the same as you would say “Happy Holidays” or a greeting for other holidays throughout the year. People also say, “Joyous Kwanzaa.”
Is Kwanzaa religious?
The meaning of Kwanzaa is from “matunda ya kwanza” in Swahili and based on something called “first fruit” traditions. The First Fruits Festival is a South African tradition of providing the “first fruits” of the harvest as an honor to God. So what religion is Kwanzaa? Africans and African Americans of all different faiths and secular beliefs celebrate Kwanzaa. There is no specific Kwanzaa religion.
Does Kwanzaa use a menorah?
Some people may call the candle holder the “Kwanzaa menorah.” However, the candle holder for Kwanzaa is called a kinara, which is a special candle holder for the seven candles of Kwanzaa. There are three red candles placed on the left which represent struggle, three green candles on the right representing land and hope for the future, and a black candle in the middle representing people of African descent. Many family members dress in traditional African clothing while lighting the Kinara.
Is Kwanzaa Jewish?
Kwanzaa is a secular holiday, which means that it has no religious affiliation. Because of the Kinara of Kwanzaa the holiday sometimes gets confused with Hanukkah, which has a menorah. Kwanzaa is not a Jewish holiday nor a Christian holiday. It is an African winter holiday celebration.
Kwanzaa vs Hanukkah: Some people find similarities between Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. The Kwanzaa Kinara is like a menorah used in Hanukkah, but not exactly the same as the number of candles and meanings vary.
What are the 7 symbols of Kwanzaa?
Along with the seven principles of Kwanzaa (represented by the candles), there is also the set of traditional Kwanzaa symbols placed on the table.
A Kwanzaa symbol includes:
- Mazao: crops.
- Mkeka: mat where the other items are placed on the table.
- Kinara: candleholder.
- Muhindi: corn.
- Kikombe cha umoja: unity cup.
- Zawadi: gifts.
- Mishumaa saba: seven candles.
Kwanzaa How To Celebrate With Kids
Let’s learn about where did Kwanzaa originate and the special traditions of Kwanzaa.
What Are Kwanzaa Traditions?
Each day of Kwanzaa is greeted by saying, “Habari Gani?” which is Swahili for “How are you?”
Each day includes the lighting of the corresponding Kwanzaa candle for that day and discussing the meaning.
The daily celebration may also include and Kwanzaa activities for families include:
- Kwanzaa songs
- Interpretive dance
- Learning about African history
You may be interested in learning more by watching The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration, which is a documentary film narrated by Maya Angelou. Great for Kwanzaa videos for students who are older.
Do you give gifts on Kwanzaa?
The focus of Kwanzaa gifts, or zawadi, is on homemade gifts or cultural gifts purchased through black-owned businesses. Most families strive to remove commercialization from this holiday.
How do you decorate for Kwanzaa?
Families decorate their home with the traditional African Kwanzaa colors: black, red, and green. For the rest of the Kwanzaa decorations, you will also need a Kwanzaa placemat, or mat (mkeka) of woven straw or fabric for the table and kinara with one black candle, three green candles, and three red candles.
Also a family will need a Unity Goblet, as well as the Muhindi, or the ear of corn (for each child) where the stalk represents the father and the ear of corn represents the child. There is also fresh fruits.
Families may also display the Bendera ya Taifa, or flag, facing East and African folk art throughout their home during the time.
What is Kwanzaa food?
The Kwanzaa Karumu, or feast, is traditionally celebrated on December 31st. Generally, Kwanzaa traditional food represents African bounty and harvest. The main dish is a one pot stew, with additional dishes to accompany it. Although there are no particular dishes that are specifically for Kwanzaa, families may choose to cook traditional African dishes or even classic African-American dishes.
Foods to make for Kwanzaa:
- South African curry
- Pepper pot stew
- Fish or fish cakes
- Jerk chicken
- Creole gumbo
- African peanut soup
- Rice or grits
- Hoppin’ John (black-eyed peas, rice, and bacon/ham)
- Candied yams or sweet potatoes
- Mustard or Collard greens
- Biscuits or spoon bread or sweet potato biscuits
- Kwanzaa cake
How are Kwanzaa and Christmas similar?
The differences in Kwanzaa and Christmas are vast, but there are a few similarities:
- Both holidays incorporate candles
- Kwanzaa and Christmas both have red as main holiday color
- Both holidays have food dishes as an important part of the celebration
- Christmas and Kwanzaa both focus on family time / family values, friendship, and fellowship
- Both holidays incorporate gift-giving
- Kwanzaa and Christmas are both times of reflection
Children’s Books About Kwanzaa
If you’re looking for Kwanzaa for kindergarten, Kwanzaa for preschoolers, books for Kwanzaa for toddlers, add these Kwanzaa children’s books to your learning and to teach kids about Kwanzaa:
Holidays Around the World: Celebrate Kwanzaa book
Kwanzaa children’s book
Lil Rabbit’s Kwanzaa
My First Kwanzaa
Together For Kwanzaa
My Family Celebrates Kwanzaa
Seven Spools Of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story
If you want to do Kwanzaa toddler crafts or Kwanzaa preschooler crafts, check out this fun holiday sticker pack for Kwanzaa kid friendly activities for all ages. You can also use clings like this to tell the Kwanzaa story for kids.
DON’T FORGET YOUR KWANZAA PRINTABLE TO LEARN WHAT IS KWANZAA ALL ABOUT!
This fun printable will help kids understand what Kwanzaa is all about — fun kwanzaa facts for preschoolers and up centered around food information about Kwanzaa and more!