It is important to teach children about cultures other than their own. Far too often children have limited exposure to people of different races and cultural practices outside of home, and sometimes the schools that they attend. With everything that is happening around the nation, I thought this post would be used as a stepping stone for all, parents and educators, to have those conversations about race. As teachers, we need to go beyond the “we’re all friends in this classroom” approach, and dive into those uncomfortable conversations that will teach empathy and respect for others. Juneteenth is tomorrow, June 19, 2020. I won’t dive into a full blown history lesson, but I encourage you to take this post (and free worksheets), do your own research and have that conversation with your children and students. The history of America's Independence Day is taught, but the independence of Black Americans is forgotten.
What is Juneteenth?
On June 19, 1865, Union Army General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas with news that slavery had been abolished in accordance with the Emancipation Proclamation. The people of Texas were overjoyed with their newfound freedom, so much that they wanted to celebrate. The June 19th celebration was coined “Juneteenth”. In 1997, the Juneteenth flag was added to the annual celebration. The flag was created by Ben Haith and others. The flag was redesigned in 2000, adding the original date 'June 19, 1865'. While Texans were happy to receive news about their freedom, that news was 2 ½ years late.
Many southern states who were considered the Confederacy did not adhere to President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation that went into effect on January 1, 1863 because they wanted to continue owning slaves. Texas didn't officially recognize Juneteenth until 1979 and made it a state law through the efforts of Al Edwards, an African American state legislator. Today, there are 43 other states and the District of Colombia who recognize Juneteenth, but not as a state holiday. Recently, Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced that he is making Juneteenth a paid state holiday. A day after the Virgina announcement, Governor Andrew Cuomo of NY, said he will propose legislation next year making June 19th a permanent state holiday.
I hope this post provided information about why African Americans celebrate the day all people who were enslaved became free on June 19th (Juneteenth). I have attached literacy worksheets you can use at home or school for children in grades K-2 as you teach the significance of Juneteenth.
Children love snack time, so why not use that time to reinforce letter recognition or phonics? If your child is just starting out, it's still a great time to introduce letters in the 10 minutes it takes to eat a snack. Some cookies are only alphabets, but if you're lucky to find a container with letters and numbers, get those instead. Think of it as the two birds with one stone approach.
My son requested cookies for a snack and as I sat with him, I began to ask him about the letters in his bowl. He was able to identify all the letters. To take it a step further, I ask him to say the the letter sound for each before eating it.
There is so much you can do with alphabet cookies:
Find Letters In Your Name: Ask your child to find the first letter in their name. Depending on how many letters your child is already able to identify in the alphabet, you may want them to find the remaining letters in his/her name. Keep in mind, you may or may not find all letters because you don't know which letters will land in the bowl when you pour. If all the letters just happen to be there, ask your child to arrange the letters on the table to spell out the name.
Sort Letters: Some letters are formed with curvy lines and some have straight lines. Provide two bowls and model what you mean by curvy and straight lines. After sorting, ask which bowl has more cookies. To reinforce letter recognition, encourage your child to name each letter as they eat. If your container of cookies includes numbers, then ask your child to sort the cookies by letters and numbers, also continuing to identify each as they are sorted.
Spelling: Depending on your child's age (5+), encourage them to spell words with the cookies. This is a great way to reinforce simple sight words that he/she has already learned (at, me, to, go). My 3-year old son has been learning sight words for a few months now and he loves to put sight words together with magnetic letters or point them out in his environment any chance he gets.
I Spy With My Little Eyes Phonics Edition: Children love to play 'I Spy', so why not modify it to teach letters sounds without them even knowing they are learning. This game is perfect for children who have already shown mastery of letter recognition. Take a look at the letters in the bowl. For example, "I spy with my little eyes, a letter that says /f/". So what you do is say the letter sound and see if your child can find the F cookie. Continue with the remaining letters until all are eaten. Simple, delicious, and engaging.
Hi, I am Odessa. I'm a mom of two wonderful children and a teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Science in Childhood Education with over 10 years of PreK and Kindergarten experience. I am a lover of all things literacy for children and their curiosity of the world. Get comfy and click around my site. I hope you find something you'll like, and something your kids will love! P.S. Akwaaba means 'welcome' :)
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