Juneteenth is the official annual celebration for June 19, 1865, the day Union Army soldiers came to Texas to inform unaware slaves they were free under the Emancipation Proclamation. Holding significant meaning to African-Americans, the holiday represents a turning point in American history. Children can commemorate Juneteenth through a list of activities with the 19th in mind.
Teachers can help students commemorate Juneteenth by going over African-American folktales, songs and hymns slaves shared. Students can sing along to the songs and learn about their significance in getting slaves through tough times, and further significance to the African-American heritage. Another focus can be placed on the folktales and the messages they conveyed, such as respect for elders and survival.
Children can also create African crafts at home or at school. One activity in particular involves creating a string of African flags by using various construction paper colors, crayons, scissors, ruler and a long piece of green string. Children can draw relatively simple African flags on the construction paper. Afterward, the flag is attached to the long string using tape, glue or staples.
As Africans were first brought to the Americas as slaves, thousands of different African dance styles merged with European styles to create new cultural traditions. Enslaved African-Americans would carry on these dances as a link to their African ancestry. Teachers or parents who wish to help their children celebrate Juneteenth can teach their children these dances, such as the Juba and Ring Dance. They are suitable for helping children understand the ways of life for slaves.
Lastly, children can celebrate Juneteenth by simply doing activities deeply rooted in African-American tradition. Parents can take their children to African-American history museums or see it there are any local Juneteemth celebrations in town. Many of these celebrations feature children's activities. Consider taking your children to any public places that specialize in promoting African-American culture. Choose whatever it is that you feel your children would enjoy doing.
- Photo Credit african american man image by Mat Hayward from Fotolia.com
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