Kwanzaa Celebration in the Classroom

Kwanzaa, a seven day festival created by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 to bring African-Americans together to celebrate their African heritage, takes place from December 26 to January 1. Although Kwanzaa is celebrated throughout the world, it is mostly an American holiday. The words "matunda ya kwanzaa" mean "first fruits" in the Swahili language.

Kwanzaa Poster  (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Kwanzaa Song 
(Tune: Three Blind Mice)
(Author Unknown) 

Red, green, black,
Red, green, black,
Kwanzaa's here,
Kwanzaa's here,
The decorations are quite a sight,
We light a candle every night,
The holiday is filled with light,
Kwanzaa's here.

Book Suggestion: My First Kwanzaa (My First Holiday)

Preschool Activities: 

Kwanzaa Celebration, Symbols, and Word Wall (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Preschool Activities: 

Kwanzaa Worksheets (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Light the Candles for Kwanzaa Rhyming Folder Game (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Read the book The Seven Days of Kwanzaa and briefly discuss and define the seven principles. Explain that the principles are meant to strengthen community and family relations. Then, teach the children how to say the name of each principle in Swahili.

Day One: Unity/Umoja
Day Two: Self-Determination/Kujichagulia
Day Three: Cooperative Work and Responsibility/Ujima
Day Four: Cooperative Economics/Ujamaa
Day Five: Purpose/Nia
Day Six: Creativity/Kuumba
Day Seven: Faith/Imani

Learn Swahili

Preschool Activities: 
Preschool Activities: 

Swahili Words and Worksheet (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)


Kinara Craft (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

A central symbol of Kwanzaa is the kinara, a candelabra that holds one black, three red, and three green candles. The colors of Kwanzaa are red, black, and green--the colors of the Pan-African flag, which symbolizes unity among African people all over the world. Black represents people, red their blood, and green the earth and the future. Each candle on the kinara represents one of the holiday's seven principles, or values, such as unity of family , creativity, and faith. The candles are lit in a particular order until the final day, when all seven candles are burning. Another Kwanzaa symbol is corn. One ear of corn is placed by the kinara to symbolize the importance of children in the family.

K is for Kinara and Kwanzaa Game (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Kwanzaa and Kinara Rhyme and Movement Activity (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Zawadi - Gift exchange

Tell children that in Africa many things are made by hand. To celebrate this African custom, gifts, or zawadi, are often exchanged on Kwanzaa. Let children make the beaded necklace below and give it to a friend or family member.

Corn Coasters Craft

Beaded Pasta Necklace 
Measure out a length of fishing line or string. Make a double knot at one end. String black, red and green (traditional Kwanzaa colors) beads onto the fishing line or string. If desired, have children create a pattern. Encourage children to tie the necklace securely around a friend's neck. Let them make and exchange many strings of beads with friends.

Kwanzaa Mat Craft (Available inside our KidsSoup Resource Library)

Traditionally, a feast, which is called karamu, is held on the sixth day, or December 31, of Kwanzaa and gifts are exchanged on the seventh. Since karamu is held on the same day that honors creativity, many families organize a craft-making party on that day. The crafts then are exchanged as gifts on January 1.

Kwanzaa foods are inspired from different traditional foods in Africa, such as peanut soup amd fried okra. Other kinds of African-inspired dishes served are koki, an appetizer made of black-eyed peas; jollof rice, a main dish of the dinner; okra and greens, a popular side dish; chinua achebe, a side dish made with sweet potatoes; dessert, usually consisting of fruit salad or coconut pie; and beverages, such as ginger beer or green tea with mint.

View more preschool and kindergarten Christmas holidays activities and crafts


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