How do you teach preschoolers about Black history?
Believe it or not, it’s pretty simple. They are little sponges who love to learn!
It’s my son’s last year of preschool, and his teachers have always talked about Dr. King in January and other Black history facts in February and throughout the year.
Our family is African-American, and my husband and I are both educators, so our bookshelves are filled with books about every aspect of Black culture.
Still, it was just this year, a few months before he turns 5, and right before he leaves preschool for kindergarten that any of those things he’s learned has really begun to stick.
I say all of this to say, don’t overwhelm your little one trying to make sure they learn everything about Black history in February.
They have the entire rest of the year (and their lives) to learn. Not just about Black history, but about everything.
History vs. Representation
Now that we have that out the way, I have one more thing to point out before we get into some activities that will help you to teach your preschooler all about Black history.
It is so important to celebrate and appreciate the Black folks around you.
Books and movies featuring Black characters and cultures are awesome to consume and participate in.
If your goal is to teach your preschooler about Black history, look for content and activities that are based on facts from different periods in American history.
You could do this by reading biography or autobiographies, fact-based stories, or resource materials like encyclopedias and documentaries.
I know Black history is a wide, deep topic. Be intentional about sharing the truth in a way that is appropriate for preschoolers.
Celebrate Black Joy
Wait! I forgot something else. This is the last thing, I promise.
Preschoolers are synonymous with fun, right?
As you’re teaching them about Black history, consider a focus on Black joy.
Of course they’ll learn about racism and discrimination and all of that, but there is so much more to African-American’s legacy in this country.
Talk about the music, the food, and the family traditions.
Have a good time learning something new!
Activities to teach preschoolers about Black history
1. Read books.
One of the obvious best ways to teach preschoolers about anything is through books.
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but remember—the books you read should be age appropriate.
Here’s a list of books about Black history for preschoolers that you can check out.
Side note, older kids will enjoy learning about Black history through this word search book that I created.
Keep in mind that these books will start plenty of conversations, so be prepared with clear answers for questions the kids will have.
2. Watch movies. Well, actually cartoons.
Videos are super helpful, and cartoons were made specifically for kids.
Don’t feel like just because it’s “history” that anything your kiddo consumes about African-American’s legacy in the country has to be complex.
Search “Black history for kids cartoon” on YouTube, sit back, learn, and enjoy!
3. Have a dance party.
Learn about Black history through music!
Turn on music from different eras and use that as an intro for giving the kids more information about what it was like for Black folks to live in America during various time periods.
4. Get in the kitchen and make some soul food.
Dig into Black culture with your little one in the kitchen.
Food plays such a big part in African-American communities, and can spark really great convos about our history.
Make beignets and teach your kids about New Orleans and all the great Black folks who came from there like Dizzie Gillespie, or make rice and talk about Gullah culture.
5. Make a protest sign.
A fun art project you can do is make protest signs.
Talk to your preschooler about what’s important to them.
Read or book and discuss how Black people had to protest in order to get rights in this country and what that means.
Look at protest signs to see exactly what people were actually protesting for.
Have your little one make their own protest sign.
6. Go somewhere.
Take a look in your own neighborhood for Black history. It’s likely your city has plenty of places you can visit to learn how African-Americans contributed to the place you live.
Even if you can’t get out, do a virtual Black history tour!
Make sure you don’t make learning about Black history feel like a chore.
Lean into your child’s curiosity, and you might learn something, too.