February is Black History Month. This month allows us to take additional time to teach children about black people that have had an impact on our country. Black History Month is also a good time to refocus students on tolerance, acceptance, and being able to celebrate differences among us. When teaching multilingual learners speech and language, they may try to blend in with their peers. It is important for them to celebrate their diversity and embrace their differences.
In honor of Black History Month, work on embracing who you are and celebrating your individual differences. To help kids to understand the topic and encourage discussions, gather some picture books on the topic to read together. Some books that focus on this are:
- The Skin You Live In by Michael Tyler
- Different Just Like Me by Lori Mitchell
- Whoever You Are by Mem Fox
- The Color of Us by Karen Katz
- Same, Same But Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw
- All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka
Allow time for kids to talk about the books as you read. Talk about what tolerance means. Why is this important for people in our country? Remind kids that their differences make them unique and who they are. These are things that make them special and part of our society. If everyone was the same, it would be very boring.
Have each child come up with words that they would use to describe themselves. Think outside of the box and not simply what they look like. After some time, share with the group and allow others to help friends to come up with other suggestions. This activity will culminate in a craft.
Give each child a piece of paper and help them to make a silhouette of their head on black construction paper. They will cut these out and put them onto another piece of construction paper with a glue stick. Next, hand out old magazines and begin looking for words on the lists that describe each child. If they are unable to find the words, they may use letters from pages to make them. These words will be scattered around the silhouette of each child to help and celebrate their difference and what makes them special. Give time at the end of the session to have each person pick one word they are most proud of and explain why.
When finished with these projects, send them home to families. Include an explanation of what the project was about and how they may extend this at home. Include instructions to complete this at home with more people. Make sure to have translations for any multilingual families so they may participate.
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