Celebrating Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is an African American celebration that focuses on African American culture and traditions. The seven-day event begins on December 26 and ends on January 2. The name of this celebration comes from the sentence “matunda ya kwanza,” which means “first fruits of the harvest”  in Swahili. Kwanzaa is a social holiday, not a religious one. All African Americans, regardless of their religious beliefs, are encouraged to come together and focus on their family, culture, community, and roots. The message of Kwanzaa is family, unity, and togetherness.

Kwanzaa was created in 1966 by Dr. Maulana “Ron” Karenga, a Professor of Black Studies at California State University, Long Beach. His goal was to create a nonpolitical and nonreligious celebration of African values.

 

 

On each night of the seven nights of Kwanzaa, people gather around the seven symbols (pictured) to discuss one of the seven values of Kwanzaa: unity, self-determination, collective responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.

Let’s take a day-by-day look:  Image result for umoja means unity clip art

 

Umoja

December 26, 2016 Umoja (unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race. 

At TAMS and ED Homeschool, we teach our children that unity begins within. It begins with identifying with and loving ourselves first. We do this with lessons, such as writing their own African Praise Poems, that encourage them to look at themselves and write positive expressions about what they see. Umoja is then reinforced with questions about our parents, grandparents, and ancestors.

kujichagulia-self-determinationDecember 27: Kujichagulia (self determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves. 

Encourage your children to ask themselves questions. Remind them that to define themselves is to understand how they see themselves and challenge if they are all that they ought to and can be.  Ask questions such as the following:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Am I living up to all of the positive things that I say about myself?
  3. Am I all that I ought to be? 

Image result for ujima images clip art December 28: Ujima (collective work and responsibility): To build and maintain our community and make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and to solve them together. 

Image result for umoja means unity clip artDecember 29: Ujamaa (Cooperative economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Image result for nia means purpose clip artDecember 30: Nia (purpose)  To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.  

Kuumba

 

December 31: Kuumba (creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

January 1: Imani (faith) To believe in God, parents, teachers or leaders.Related image

 

kwanzaa-gift-giving-1

Please enjoy our gift for you.

Free Kwanzaa Lessons and Worksheets from

TAMS and ED Homeschool

Kwanzaa Study Guide (elementary-middle)

​      Our FREE 22-page Kwanzaa Study Guide comes with a song, activities, reading passages, writing assignments, and coloring pages designed to teach students all about this African America celebration. With friendly cartoons to facilitate comprehension, the Guide includes a daily lesson designed to stimulate creativity, thinking, and cultural pride.

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Geography: Paper Mache’ Globe

Our students love art. So, as often as possible, I try to take a break from textbooks and worksheets and allow them to get their hands dirty. We made paper mache’ globes to reinforce our lessons on continents and oceans with a little bit of latitude and longitude sprinkled in. 

Supplies:

  • 10″ – 12″ balloon
  • Recycled newspaper
  • Liquid glue
  •  Water + flour paste (1 part paste to 2 parts water)
  • Paint brushes
  • Blue tempera paint
  • Continents cutouts  (from Lakeshore Learning)
  • Black yarn or ribbon.

 Step 1: Make a paste of flour and water. I use about 1 c. flour to 1/3 c. water. You can adjust to make your paste as thick or as thin as you want. Use a fork to smooth out the lumps.

Step 2: Blow up the balloon.

Step 3: Tear strips of newspaper and dip in flour paste.

Step 4: lay the newspaper strips on the balloon. I suggest three to four layers.

Step 5: Let it dry. I suggest 2-3 to dry thoroughly. Let it harden through and through. Otherwise, the damp spots could collasp when you begin to paint.

Paint the globe blue, since earth is the blue planet. Let dry 12 – 24 hours.

Color and cut each continent. If you are including the continent of Zealandia, here is a great pattern you can use.

Glue in place. Let dry.

Use the black yarn or ribbon to glue the Equator and the Prime Meridian.

Label the 5 Oceans (Arctic, Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Southern), Equator, and Prime Meridian to mark the appropriate locations. 

A few days later, give your students this Continents and Oceans Quiz to test their knowledge.

 

Poetry analysis: “Equipment” by Edgar A. Guest

I am constantly seeking ways to help my students develop a love for poetry. I strongly believe that poetry helps children develop not only an interest in reading but also a love for writing. Unlike books and essays, poems are short and many of the same devices used in poetry are used in prose. A line in poetry is similar to a sentence in prose. A stanza is similar to a paragraph. A simile is used in both poetry and prose. Like prose, poems are often written from a certain point of view, follow a certain genre, and tell memorable stories. 

I use a variety of tools including graphic organizers, P.L.O.R.E., read aloud, read silently, reader’s theater, memorization, and even costumes to help my students develop a love for poetry.  

The poem, Equipment, by Edgar A. Guest is a student favorite because of the positive message. It’s also universal, although Guest addresses the “lad,” which is mostly thought of as a young male, the poem actually has universal appeal that both male and female can embrace. 

Edgar Albert Guest was born in 1881 in Birmingham, England. He moved to American when he was 10 and became a naturalized citizen soon after. He became known as the “People’s Poet” because of the optimistic nature of his life’s work and his popularity.  His poem, Equipment, was Dr.  George Washington Carver’s favorite poem. The reading below is of Dr. Carver who  read this poem it at an audio station at the George Washington Carver Museum.

Equipment

By Edgar A. Guest

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say ‘I can.’

Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart.
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if only you will,
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go.
How much you will study the truth to know,
God has equipped you for life, But He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win,
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: ‘I can.’ 

Analysis: In this poem, Edgar A. Guest speaks to young people. He challenges them to look within and believe in themselves. He explains that God has given them all that they need to succeed. He explains that they are no different than the “greatest of men.” All that they is needed is the will to dig deep, use what God has given them, and achieve great heights. 

STANZA 1:

  • This poem is written in couplets (a pair of lines of the same length that rhyme and complete one thought). In stanza 1, there are three couplets that challenge the “lad” to figure it out by realizing that he/she has all of the same “equipment” to succeed, just like the “greatest of men.”
  • The tone (poet’s attitude) of this poem is one of determined optimism. In the first stanza, he optimistically insists that you, we, the “lad” is quite capable. She must figure it out, use her brain, and and begin with two words: “I can.”

Figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You’ve all that the greatest of men have had,
Two arms, two hands, two legs, two eyes,
And a brain to use if you would be wise.
With this equipment they all began,
So start for the top and say ‘I can.’

STANZA 2:

  • He begins by telling the lad to “Look them over” and he uses an appositive (clarifying information that’s set off with a comma) to explain who “them” are.  
  • He uses everyday examples to draw parallels between “them” and the “lad” and he uses the word “similar” twice to emphasize his point.
  • He also uses the conjunction “but” to to bring the “brave and smart” back to the beginning when they made their start, when they weren’t great, when they were students in school, just like the “lad.”  

Look them over, the wise and great,
They take their food from a common plate
And similar knives and forks they use,
With similar laces they tie their shoes,
The world considers them brave and smart.
But you’ve all they had when they made their start.

STANZAS 3 & 4:

  • “You are the handicap you face” is a metaphor that tells the student that she creates her own obstacles. She must face her own doubts and overcome her fears. 
  • He uses anaphora (repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive lines) to shift the focus to “you.” His goal is to get the individual to see herself as one who can do it. In Stanza 1, he instructed her to say it. Now, he is drilling the point that she is equipped, she is able, and she absolutely can. 
  • In Stanza 4, he instructs the student to get out of her own way, speak truth over her life, study hard, and believe that God has equipped her to succeed.

You can triumph and come to skill,
You can be great if only you will,
You’re well equipped for what fight you choose,
You have legs and arms and a brain to use,
And the man who has risen, great deeds to do
Began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you must face,
You are the one who must choose your place,
You must say where you want to go.
How much you will study the truth to know,
God has equipped you for life, But He
Lets you decide what you want to be.

STANZA 5

  • He uses strong words like “courage” and “soul” and “will” to spark determination within the lad. 
  • He repeats his opening line, “figure it out for yourself, my lad,” to remind the lad that, ultimately, she must put in the work in order to succeed. 
  • He closes by repeating another line that places emphasis on the importance of speaking positive words to and about ourselves. 

Courage must come from the soul within,
The man must furnish the will to win,
So figure it out for yourself, my lad,
You were born with all that the great have had,
With your equipment they all began.
Get hold of yourself, and say: ‘I can.’ 

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Eat the Rainbow


One of the best ways to keep your body at the perfect weight is by eating a balanced diet with foods from all of the food groups. You should also be eating fruits and vegetables in every color that is seen in the rainbow. Some people call this the “Rainbow Diet,” but it isn’t really a diet at all, it simply involves making sure you are eating foods from each color group. Each color group offers its own nutritional goodies, that not only gives them their like colors, but also contains powerful nutrients that have disease fighting properties.

Our theme for this school year is, “Eat the Rainbow.” Our goal is to inspire our students to think about and select more healthy eating choices. 


By making sure you are eating all of the colors, you provide lots of different benefits to your body. Some of these include:

  • Strengthening your immune system
  • Lowering your risk for certain types of cancer
  • Reducing risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Reducing high blood pressure
  • Preventing certain eye diseases
  • Maintaining urinary tract health
  • Maintaining heart health
  • Improving memory
  • Strengthening bones and teeth

Our girls were required to not only create a poster of rainbow vegetables and fruits, but also prepare an oral presentation that teaches others the benefits of a plant-based diet. 


Now let’s look at what specific benefits each color group has to offer:


Red fruits and vegetables like tomatoes, watermelon, guava, red/pink grapefruit and papaya are high in lycopene. Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant that can help fight heart disease and certain cancers.

Orange vegetables and fruits such as sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes and apricots are high in beta-carotene, another natural antioxidant. Beta-carotene has long been known to be good for the eyes, and is also being studied for its ability to enhance the immune system.


Green

There are lots of different green vegetables to choose from, including collard greens, spinach, kale and broccoli, just to name a few. These green vegetables are rich in phytochemicals and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which have strong antioxidant properties that are being studied for their ability to keep your retina strong.

Yellow

Bright yellow fruits such as pineapple have a lot of the same phytochemicals that are found in orange fruits and vegetables. They are also high in essential vitamins like Vitamin C and carotenoids, as well as manganese and the natural enzyme, bromelain, which is helpful in healthy digestion.

Blue/Purple

Blue and purple shaded fruits and vegetables add health-enhancing flavonoids, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. Blueberries, specifically, contain high amounts of Vitamin C, folic acid, potassium and fiber.

Whites

The white group is made up of vegetables in the onion family such as scallions, chives, garlic and of course the various types of onions. This group contains the powerful phytochemical called allicin. Allicin has been shown to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as improve your ability to fight off infections.

Teaching reading and spelling with vowel sounds

Maybe you’ve seen it. You begin reading with your child and the tears begin to flow. Your frustrated child can’t put the sounds together; can’t pronounce the words. It’s understandable. Out of the 26 letters in the alphabet, 5 of them are vowels. Those 5 vowels create 19 different sounds depending on the letter combination used in a given word.

Here are a few things to consider when teaching the short vowel sound:

  1. Introduce each vowel sound. Here is a video with short vowel sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQwQ7FWL4MM
  • short /a/ as in bat
  • short /e/ as in bet
  • short /i/ as in bit
  • short /o/ as in bot
  • short /u/ as in but
  1. For each short vowel sound teach a gesture or hand movement to go with it.
  • Short A – put your hand under your chin. Remind your student that when you say /ă/ your chin drops. Say, “Short a says, /ă/.”
  • Short E – Hold three fingers out horizontally. Say, “Short e says, /ĕ/.”
  • Short I – Touch your finger to your nose like you are dotting an i. Say, “Short i says, /ĭ/”.
  • Short O – Form your mouth in the shape of an o. Say, “Short o says, /ŏ/”.
  • Short U – /ŏ/”.Put your hands together and use your thumbs to form a u. Say, “Short u says /ŭ/”.

Remind students to do these gestures each day when they say the short vowel sounds.

You can also use these gestures when segmenting words for accurate spelling. For example, after you dictate the word rat, the student can say each sound in isolation. /r/ / ă / /t/.

 spell trek3. The game, Spell Trek, uses visuals for the vowels and reinforces vowel recognition, phonics, and spelling. During this game, players draw vowel tiles and use them to complete words. Scoring is based on the length of the word spelled, with a bonus point for more complex words.

Here is a video tutorial that parent can watch and receive additional tips on how to play Spell Trek as well as how the game can reinforce spelling and phonics.

I became a SimplyFun Playologist because I truly believe in providing children with multiple ways to learn and succeed in school. Academic game play is fun and effective. Please browse my SimplyFun web page for games and toys designed to help your child play, grow, and learn.

Please visit my SimplyFun web page today https://www.simplyfun.com/pws/gamestogrow/tabs/playologist-home.aspx

Fraction friends: 2nd – 3rd grade math

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Re-purpose your empty water bottles in this simple math activity for your elementary-aged students. Fraction strips help students see the relationships between different fractions.

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MATERIALS 

  •  plastic water bottle
  • colorful fuzzy sticks
  • colorful tissue
  • colorful index index cards (large)
  • permanent marker (to draw the the face)
  • sharp pin (to poke holes in plastic bottles)

ASSEMBLY 

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  • Make fraction strips with index cards. Make sure each strip is evenly spaced.
  • Use a sharp pin to poke holes in opposite sides of the strip.
  • Use a sharp pin to poke holes in opposite sides of the plastic bottle.
  • Thread one fuzzy stick through the plastic bottle.
  • Stuff one sheet of colorful tissue into the plastic bottle.
  • Thread the fuzzy “hands” into either side of the strip. Fold to secure.
  • Draw face on the plastic bottle.
  • Make a few ribbon curls and glue on the “hair.”

Want more?