What better time to teach special needs kids about diversity, tolerance, and overcoming stereotypes than Black History Month? Black History Month is a time to honor African American authors, inventors, playwrights, civil rights activists and all those who sacrificed much for the successes that were eventually achieved and the impact that they have had on the world. Inspiring? I think so!!
DTLK’s Crafts for Kids’ Handprint – (Dove) Unity Wreath is one of my favorite activities to engage children in a conversation about how “we are more alike than different”. It is a symbol not only of cultural unity but also of peer unity in an inclusive-of-special-needs classroom. The project can be tailored to age and ability level. It can be especially powerful if done in a group(s) and using cut outs of actual students’ hand prints.
The struggles and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, for example, can be shared and followed with the questions, “How do you imagine they felt about being excluded or bullied because of who they were?” “What would you have done to help them?” “What groups of people might be experiencing similar situations today?” “How can you help them?”
Another great project is education.com’s Amistad Friendship Chain. Children explore the meaning of friendship while creating a construction paper chain. Following group reflection on the true meaning of friendship, each child creates their own link(s) expressing their thoughts on friendship’s meaning.
The unique links are joined to together just as friends can join together to create something stronger.
On a personal note…
I remember Mrs. Parks most for her quiet grace and dignity and the softness of her voice as she told us her story. Her reality was such a surprise after studying her as an historical figure. I expected that she would be larger than life. Looking back, I realize that it was her very “ordinariness” that made her accomplishments so extraordinary.