Sankofa: Reclaiming our Past

At TAMS and ED Homeschool, we stress to our students the importance of our family connections. We encourage them to spend time with their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and others who can share family stories and details about their ancestors. And, once those details have been shared, we stress to our students the awesome responsibility of preserving those stories and writing about them. 

We teach them the story of “Sankofa,” which is based on a West African proverb that says, “se wo were fi na wo san kofa a yenki,” or “It is not taboo  to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.”

sankofa (1) Kansas
Marla Jackson
born 1952, Detroit, Michigan 
cotton, batik fabric, applique, cowry shells, peacock feathers, Austrian crystal, metallic thread


Sankofa comes from the Akan tribe in Ghana.  The literal translation of the word and the symbol is: 

SAN  (return),

KO  (go),

FA (look, seek and take).

The Sankofa bird symbolizes the Akan people’s quest for knowledge beginning with an examination of our past. Visually and symbolically Sankofa is expressed as a mythical bird that flies forward while looking backward with an egg (symbolizing the future) in its mouth. It teaches us that we must dig deep into our roots, study and know our past, in order to move forward. In order to fully appreciate our African American culture and traditions, we must reach back and reclaim what we have been stripped of, lost, forgotten, or forgone.


The Sankofa bird is one of the “Andinkra” symbols. Named after the legendary King Adinkra, these symbols express various themes that relate to the history, beliefs and philosophy of the Asante people. The heart is another symbol of Sankofa.

Sankofa heartIn order to gain greater control over their slaves, slave owners robbed them of their cultures and identities. Many slaves were separated from their families and denied their given names. Families were separated due to sale, escape, early death from poor health, suicide, and murder by a slaveholder or bushwhacker. Separation also occurred within the plantation itself, e.g., by segregating “field slaves” from “house servants,” removing children from parents to live together with a slave caretaker, or bringing children fathered by the slaveholder to live in the “Big House.” 

We teach our students that they cannot know where they are going unless they know where they came from. We begin our Sankofa journey by having each child stand with their feet facing forward. Then we ask each one to look back and begin to consider who he/she might see first: Mom, Dad, aunts, uncles, Grandma, Grandpa, Great-grandma, Great-grandpa, and so on. We stress the importance of the family unit. 

Peter SankofaOver the holiday season, when families tend to gather more often, we task our students with story gathering. They are to talk to their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and learn about their immediate family. They will create a family tree with photos and quotes from their family members, especially their elder family members, such as grandparents and great grand parents. 

We hope you will encourage your children to tell their Sankofa stories and preserve their rich cultural history.

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Who Was George Washington Carver?

George Washington Carver was a world-famous chemist who made important agricultural discoveries and inventions. His research on peanuts, sweet potatoes, and other products helped poor southern farmers vary their crops and improve their diets. A monument showing Carver as a boy was the first national memorial erected in honor of an African American.

George W Carver laboratory

Here is a free resource! based on the book Who Was George Washington Carver, by Jim Gigliotti. You can use this as a Study Guide designed to help students gain deeper knowledge or as a Quiz to test their knowledge after they read this book.

Vocabulary: Write the definition for each of the following words.

orphan: _____________________________________________________

immigrant: ______________________________________________________________________________

bushwhacker: ____________________________________________________________________________

Amendment: _____________________________________________________________________________

nursery: __________________________________________________________________________________

horticulture: _____________________________________________________________________________

chemist: _________________________________________________________________________________

botany: ___________________________________________________________________________________

nutrients: _________________________________________________________________________________

legacy: ____________________________________________________________________________________

Questions: Please answer the following questions in this format:

statue of Carver as a boy
The boy Carver statue is a nine-foot high bronze statue by Robert Amendola. It depicts George Washington Carver as a boy and is mounted on a large limestone rock. The boy Carver statue was dedicated at the George Washington Carver National Monument of July 17, 1960. 
The George Washington Carver National Monument near Diamond, Missouri, was approved by Congress in 1943. It was the first national memorial to an African American. The chief sponsor of the legislation to create the monument was Missouri native Harry S. Truman. He was a senator from Missouri at the time. A dedication ceremony of the monument was held on July 13, 1953. 
[SHS 007935; Massie-Missouri Resources Commission photo]
  • Write complete sentences in your own words. Do not copy straight from the book. 
  • Restate the question. For example, to answer Question #1, you might write, George got the nickname “the Plant Doctor” after he… . 
  • Begin each sentence with a capital letter.
  • End each sentence with punctuation. 


  1. How did George get the nickname, “the Plant Doctor?”
  2. Who are Moses and Susan?
  3. Who are Mary and Jim?
  4. Describe Missouri’s role in the Civil War.
  5. What is the importance of the 13th Amendment? 
  6. Re-read pages 14-15. Write a paragraph and summarize (briefly re-tell) what those two pages are talking about.
  7. What significant (important) event happened to George when he was 8 years old?
  8. Why did George refer to God as “Creator”?
  9. Describe Mariah Watkins.
  10. Why didn’t Mariah Watkins like it when George said, “I’m Carver’s George”?
  11. Why did George move to Neosho?
  12. Compare Neosho to Diamond Grove.
  13. What was the name of George’s school in Neosho?
  14. Re-read page 41. Write a paragraph that describes Jim Crow Laws. **Remember: a paragraph is not one long sentence strung together with the word “and.” Write 3-4 complete sentences. 
  15. Read pages 46-47. Describe the house that George built.
  16. What was the Homestead Act of 1862? Who signed it into law?
  17. Describe George’s experience at Simpson College. Why did he leave? 
  18. What was the “Atlanta Compromise”? Who wrote it? How did black people feel about it?
  19. Read page 61. Write a short paragraph about Booker T. Washington.
  20. Why did Booker T. Washington want George to attend Tuskegee?
  21. Describe the booklets that George wrote for slaves.
  22. What was the Jesup Wagon?
  23. What did George say after Booker T. Washington died?
  24. Why did George want farmers to rotate their crops?
  25. Describe George’s famous peanut booklet. Why did the Royal Society of Arts in London honor him for this booklet?
  26. What was George’s goal when he started the George Washington Carver Foundation at Tuskegee? 

Internet activity: use the Internet to learn more about whooping cough. Describe what it is. 

On your own: 

  1. Write a 2-page essay titled The Legacy of Dr. George Washington Carver. Describe his legacy in 3-5 paragraphs. Support your essay with plenty of details and description of his great work. 
  2. Create a “How to” brochure

George Washington Carver created a booklet called How to Grow the Peanut, and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption.

Create a tri-fold “how to” brochure about something that you love. 

  1. The cover should be a photo of you involved with the topic. For example, if you are writing a “How to” about playing the piano, you will be in a photo playing the piano. If you are writing about how to bake a cake, your photo might include you in the kitchen baking a cake. 
  2. The inside pages should include the following: 1) an introduction and something interesting about the topic; 2) “How to” details about the topic; 3) other suggestions on how to use the product.
  3. The back page should include Acknowledgements that thank people, such as Mom and Dad, who helped you complete the brochure. This page should also and References, such as books or Internet sources that you used. Books and Internet sources should be in MLA format. 

Thank you for visiting our blog, TAMS and ED Home schoolers. Feel free to copy and paste this lesson and use it as a supplement to your Reading, Writing, or Social Studies lessons.

For more lessons that emphasize African Americans and their great contributions to education, follow my blog. Also, like us on Facebook, TAMS and ED Homeschool. Visit our website at 

Poetic Devices

What is poetry?

Poetry is literature in meter form. It is a form of written word that has pattern and rhythm and rhyme. It can be serious or it can be fun. Poetry is as creative as you make it. 

Poetry for young peopleBasic poetry is in verse form, called a stanza, made up of meters created by feet. The amount of lines there are in a stanza decides what type of poem is written. There can be more than one stanza to a poem and then for effect throw in a chorus and a refrain.

The stanzas can have rhythm and rhyme or just be a blank verse!

Glossary of Terms and Types

acrostic: An acrostic poem is a type of poetry where the first, last or other letters in a line spell out a particular word or phrase. The most common and simple form of an acrostic poem is where the first letters of each line spell out the word or phrase.

adjective: a word that describes a noun in a sentence.

alliteration: the repetition of a sound at the beginning of a word in a sequence of nearby words

alternate rhyme: It is also known as ABAB rhyme scheme, it rhymes as “ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH.”

anaphora: the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses

appositive: When a noun or word is followed by another noun or phrase that renames or identifies it, this is called appositive. This is a literary device that appears before or after a noun or noun phrase. It is always set off with commas.

assonance: the repetition of identical or similar vowels

ballad: a poem that tells a story, which are often used in songs because of their rhyme. A ballad is a poetic story, often a love story.

consonance: the repetition of the same consonant or consonant pattern two or more times in short succession.

Image result for danitra brown class clown imagescouplet: a pair of lines of the same length that rhyme and complete one thought. There is no limit to the length of the lines.

hyperbole: the use of exaggeration for effect

Iambic pentameter: describes the particular rhythm that the words establish in a line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called “feet.” The word “iambic” describes the type of foot that is used (in English, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable). The word “pentameter” indicates that a line has five of these “feet”.

idiom: an expression where the literal meaning of the words is not the meaning of the expression

One Last Wordimagery: appealing to one of the five senses

interjection: a word that strongly expresses feelings and emotions. Fire! Help! Yaay! 

line: Similar to a sentence in prose, poetry is written in lines.

 metaphor an implied comparison between things essentially unlike

noun: a word that is a person, place, thing, or idea

onomatopoeia: a word whose sound seems to resemble closely the sound it denotes OR sounds that imitate another sound

personification: an inanimate object or concept is given human characteristics or feelings

preposition: a word that shows location in time and/or space. 

prose: the ordinary form of written or spoken language. repetition is when a word or sentence is placed more than once within a poem

quatrain: Four lines of poetry with similar meter and a specific rhyme scheme. The rhyme scheme follows one of four patterns: AABBABAB, ABBA, or ABCB. A quatrain might be a poem by itself, or a poem might consist of a series of quatrains grouped together.

rhyme: the repetition of sounds at the end of words

rhyming words: words that sound the same when spoken, they don’t necessarily have to be spelled the same

rhythmrhythm: the pattern of stresses within a line of verse. All spoken word has a rhythm formed by stressed and unstressed syllables. When you write words in a sentence (line) you will notice patterns forming.

simile: a figure of speech that compares two things by using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ something else. They are compared indirectly.

stanza: a set amount of lines grouped by rhythmical pattern and meter. It usually has four or more lines and is can be referred to as a verse.

syllable: a single unit of written or spoken word, an unbroken sound used to make up words

theme: the underlying message

tone: an attitude (sad, happy, angry, determined, etc…) of a writer toward a subject or an audience 

symbol: a word or an image that signifies something other than what it represents, with multiple meanings and connotations

verb:  a doing word. It’s the word that gives the action in a sentence.

powerful verb: is when you use a synonym to make your writing more descriptive and exciting.

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TAMS and ED stands for Technology, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Education. We provide a tough yet achievable home school for students who need personal attention in a safe home environment. We utilize a number of cross-curricular teaching tools including standard textbooks, computers and technology, academic excursions, and hands-on learning. Our qualified Board of directors consist of certified educators, parents, and administrators who are passionate about challenging every child to reach for the academic stars. Visit us online, click here.

We promote diversity and tolerance in a safe learning environment. For TAMS and ED students, the world is their classroom. Come and join us!

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Poetry analysis: Imagery & Onomatopoeia

For this lesson, I used the book, I Got the Rhythm, by Connie Schofield-Morrison who uses imagery and onomatopoeia to help us experience the beats that makes our bodies rock. Before I jump into that, however, I want to send a shout out to illustrator, Frank Morrison, whose art captures the essence of finding the rhythm within ourselves!

“To find the rhythm in yourself, all you’ve got to do is look around.” 

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison

imagery: the literary term used for language and description that appeals to our five senses. smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing. 

onomatopoeia a word, which imitates the natural sounds of a thing. A few examples: “Honk honk,” says the car or “Ssssssss,” says the snake. 

Although I Got the Rhythm is not a book of poetry, per se, it is, nonetheless, a great resource that breaks down the elements of imagery and onomatopoeia, which are two prominent poetic devices. 

About the book: On a simple trip to the park, the joy of music overtakes a mother and daughter. The little girl hears a rhythm coming from the world around her- from butterflies, to street performers, to ice cream sellers everything is musical! She sniffs, snaps, and shakes her way into the heart of the beat, finally busting out in an impromptu dance, which all the kids join in on! Award-winning illustrator Frank Morrison and Connie Schofield-Morrison, capture the beat of the street, to create a rollicking read that will get any kid in the mood to boogie.Related image

Teachers, instruct your students to close their eyes and listen as you read the book. Tell them to point to the body part (eyes, nose, mouth, hands, and ears) that describes the images as you read them. Remind them of the definition of imagery and encourage them to feel the experience. 

Image result for frank morrison illustrator I got the rhythm

I’ve Got the Rhythm

By Connie Schofield-Morrison

I thought of a rhythm in my mind think think

I heard the rhythm with my ears beat beat

I looked at the rhythm with my eyes beat beat

I smelled the rhythm with my nose sniff sniff

I sang the rhythm with my mouth ooh la la

I caught the rhythm with my hands clap clap

I kept the rhythm with my fingers snap snap

I shook a rhythm with my hips shake shake

I felt the rhythm with my knees knock knock

I walked the rhythm with my feet stomp stomp

I tapped the rhythm with my toes tip tap

I danced to the rhythm of a drum beat bop

Related image


I clapped and snapped

I tipped and tapped

I popped and locked

I hipped and hopped


Analysis: Refer to my blog on Poetic Devices for definitions of the following as needed:

  • How many times does the author use the word “rhythm”?  Why do you think she repeats the word so many times?
  • What is the theme of this poem? 
  • What is the mood of this poem? 
  • How do the illustrations complement the words? 
  • Underline the verbs. Write a synonym for each one. 
  • Write two examples of imagery used.
  • “snap snap,” “clap clap,” “beat bop,” “bing bang” and “boom boom” are examples of onomatopoeia. Write what each sound is describing. For example, “snap snap” is the sound of fingers snapping. 

About the author: Connie Schofield-Morrison has been writing since she was a young girl and is inspired every day by the big sounds and bright colors of the world around her. I Got the Rhythm is her first picture book.

About the illustrator: Growing up in New Jersey, Frank Morrison began developing his own style through ‘R.I.P’ art scenes that brought him considerable street recognition and local acclaim. But it wasn’t until he visited the Louvre Museum in Paris with his dancing group, that he realized painting was his true creative path. His talent and hard work paid off with over 20 illustrated children’s books, including the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner, Jazzy Miz Mozetta and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor book, Little Melba and her Big Trombone.



TAMS and ED stands for Technology, Language Arts, Math, Science, and Education. We provide a tough yet achievable home school for students who need personal attention in a safe home environment. We utilize a number of cross-curricular teaching tools including standard textbooks, computers and technology, academic excursions, and hands-on learning. Our qualified Board of directors consist of certified educators, parents, and administrators who are passionate about challenging every child to reach for the academic stars. Visit us online, click here.

We promote diversity and tolerance in a safe learning environment. For TAMS and ED students, the world is their classroom. Come and join us!



African-American Poets: Milestones in History (grades 3rd – 8th)

What is African-American poetry?  Poetry in general is  like regular writing with a few tweaks. Instead of sentences, poems consist of lines. Instead of paragraphs, poems consist of stanzas. Poetry uses a lot of “sensory” language, which consists of words that help us see, hear, taste, touch, and smell the experience.  

African American poetry is a type of writing that’s seeped in history, culture and rich family traditions. It details things like oxtails, greens, and candied yams served up on Sundays after church and  old folk’s stories about growing up black in America. African-American poetry helps us feel the hot sun during a long day of picking cotton, the belting of whips beating down on a slave’s back, and it reminds us of the days when blacks could not drink from the same water fountain as whites. 

I could go on and on describing the beauty of African American poetry, but I think Lucy, Jupiter, Phillis, and George, can explain better than I can. You see:

  • Lucy Terry’s Bars Fight (1746), is the first poem that we know of that was written by an African American.
  • Jupiter Hammond, a religious poet who led many slaves to Jesus Christ, is the first African American who published a poem.
  • Phillis Wheatley the first African American woman who published an entire book of poetry.
  • George Moses Horton, the slave from North Carolina who became the first African American to use verse to argue against slavery.

Take a look:

Image result for Lucy terry image
Lucy Terry Prince (c. 1730–1821) is the author of the earliest known work of literature by an African American. She was stolen from Africa and sold into slavery as an infant, and became a free woman in Massachusetts, 1756.

The first known poem written by an African-American was Bars Fight, by Lucy Terry. Bars Fight is a ballad. A ballad is a type of poem that tells a story. Bars Fight is about an attack on two white families by Native Americans. The title of the poem comes from the area where the attack took place, The Bars , which is an area in Deerfield. 

Her poem is also written in formal couplets. In poetry, a couplet is a pair of lines in a verse. Usually they rhyme and have the same , meter (rhythm). Each couplet makes up a unit or complete thought. 

Bars Fight (1746)

by Lucy Terry 

August ’twas the twenty-fifth,

Seventeen hundred forty-six;

The Indians did in ambush lay,

Some very valiant men to slay,

The names of whom I’ll not leave out.

Samuel Allen like a hero fout,

And though he was so brave and bold,

His face no more shalt we behold

Eteazer Hawks was killed outright,

Before he had time to fight, –

Before he did the Indians see,

Was shot and killed immediately.

Oliver Amsden he was slain,

Which caused his friends much grief and pain.

Simeon Amsden they found dead,

Not many rods distant from his head.

Adonijah Gillett we do hear

Did lose his life which was so dear.

John Sadler fled across the water,

And thus escaped the dreadful slaughter.

Eunice Allen see the Indians coming,

And hopes to save herself by running,

And had not her petticoats stopped her,

The awful creatures had not catched her,

Nor tommy hawked her on the head,

And left her on the ground for dead.

Young Samuel Allen, Oh lack-a-day!

Was taken and carried to Canada.

Image result for jupiter hammon images
Jupiter Hammon was the first African American poet to be published in the United States. He was born a slave Lloyd Harbor, New York, on October 17, 1711. The Lloyd family encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he learned to read and write. In his early years, Hammon was heavily influenced by a major religious movement called, “The Great Awakening.” His poems reflected his love for Jesus Christ and encouraged slaves to accept Christ as well. 

As you read this poem, consider the author’s message. What message do you think Hammond is trying to convey? 

A Poem for Children with Thoughts on Death (1792)

by Jupiter Hammond

O Ye young and thoughtless youth,

Come seek the living God,

The scriptures are a sacred truth,

Ye must believe the word.

Tis God alone can make you wise,

His wisdom’s from above,

He fills the soul with sweet supplies

By his redeeming love.

Remember youth the time is short,

Improve the present day

And pray that God may guide your thoughts,

And teach your lips to pray.

To pray unto the most high God,

And beg restraining grace,

Then by the power of his word

You’ll see the Saviour’s face.

Little children they may die,

Turn to their native dust,

Their souls shall leap beyond the skies,

And live among the just.

Like little worms they turn and crawl,

And gasp for every breath.

The blessed Jesus sends his call,

And takes them to his rest.

Thus the youth are born to die,

The time is hastening on,

The Blessed Jesus rends the sky,

And makes his power known.

Then ye shall hear the angels sing

The trumpet give a sound,

Glory, glory to our King,

The Saviour’s coming down.

Start ye saints from dusty beds,

And hear a Saviour call,

Twas a Jesus Chirst that died and bled,

And thus preserv’d thy soul.

This the portion of the just,

Who lov’d to serve the Lord,

Their bodies starting from the dust,

Shall rest upon their God.

They shall join that holy word,

That angels constant sing,

Glory, glory to the Lord,

Hallelujahs to our King.

Thus the Saviour will appear,

With guards of heavenly host,

Those blessed Saints, shall then declare,

Tis Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Then shall ye hear the trumpet sound,

The graves give up their dead,

Those blessed saints shall quick awake,

And leave their dusty beds.

Then shall you hear the trumpet sound,

And rend the native sky,

Those bodies starting from the ground,

In the twinkling of an eye.

There to sing the praise of God,

And join the angelic train,

And by the power of his word,

Unite together again.

Where angels stand for to admit

Their souls at the first word,

Cast sceptres down at Jesus feet

Crying holy holy Lord.

Now glory be unto our God

All praise be justly given,

Ye humble souls that love the Lord

Come seek the joys of Heaven.


Image result for phillis wheatley images
Phillis Wheatley was born in Gambia, West Africa. No one knows for sure when she was born. However, when she was kidnapped and shipped to America, experts guessed she was around seven years old, because of her missing front teeth.  She was sold into slavery and purchased by the prominent Wheatley family of Boston. Although it was illegal to educate slaves, the Wheatleys taught Phillis how to read and write. She is the first African American woman to publish a book of poetry. 


  • mercy – compassion shown towards someone
  • pagan – ungodly
  • benighted – in a state of moral ignorance
  • redemption – the act of being saved from sin
  • diabolic – connected to evil, the devil
  • angelic – like angels

How does Wheatley feel about  Africa?

On Being Brought from Africa to America

by Phillis Wheatley

‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,

Taught my benighted soul to understand

That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:

Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.

Some view our sable race with scornful eye,

“Their colour is a diabolic die.”

Remember, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain,

May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.


Image result for george moses horton images
George Moses Horton (1797? – 1884) was born a slave in North Carolina. He was the first African American to use poetry to promote antislavery messages. He earned money writing love poems for men who wanted to woo the ladies.

Horton’s poem is written in formal couplets. In poetry, a couplet is a pair of lines in a verse. Usually they rhyme and have the same , meter (rhythm). Each couplet makes up a unit or complete thought.

mood and tone help the reader find meaning in a poem. We can identify both by looking at the setting, characters, details, and word choices. 

mood – is the atmosphere of the story.

tone – the author’s attitude towards the topic. 

What is the tone of the poem, “Weep”? 

Support your answer with words from the poem and their meanings.



By George Moses Horton

Weep for the country in its present state,

And of the gloom which still the future waits;

The proud confederate eagle heard the sound,

And with her flight fell prostrate to the ground!

Weep for the loss the country has sustained,

By which her now dependent is in jail;

The grief of him who now the war survived,

The conscript husbands and the weeping wives!

Weep for the seas of blood the battle cost,

And souls that ever hope forever lost!

The ravage of the field with no recruit,

Trees by the vengeance blasted to the root!

Weep for the downfall o’er your heads and chief,

Who sunk without a medium of relief;

Who fell beneath the hatchet of their pride,

Then like the serpent bit themselves and died!

Weep for the downfall of your president,

Who far too late his folly must repent;

Who like the dragon did all heaven assail,

And dragged his friends to limbo with his tail!

Weep o’er peculiar swelling coffers void,

Our treasures left, and all their banks destroyed;

Their foundless notes replete with shame to all,

Expecting every day their final fall,

In quest of profit never to be won,

Then sadly fallen and forever down!

Additional Resources

Dream in Color, a collaborative effort for elementary-aged children. 

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