Adventures in Black History

January 18, 2021

This week’s theme:

Adventures in Black History

 

This week’s colouring in sheet:

Download and print this week’s colouring sheet here.

 

Fact of the week:

The 18th of January is Martin Luther King Day, celebrating the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr., an influential American civil rights leader. He is most well-known for his campaigns to end racial segregation, and for racial equality in the United States.

 

Activities for the week…

 

Activity 1

Martin Luther King Jr was an influential American civil rights leader. Our civil rights are something that we want to protect as they make sure that we all get treated fairly, and make sure that we get to live our lives without discrimination (unfairness) or repression (being held back). Dr King was specifically interested in the rights of Black people to be treated kindly and fairly.

 

Dr King did a lot of work to try and stop racism in the United States. Racism is where someone treats another person differently because their skin colour is not the same as theirs, they speak a different language or have different religious beliefs, for example. This is unfair, we shouldn’t behave differently to another person based on the colour of their skin or culture, but it still happens a lot. Nobody is better than anybody else just because of the colour of their skin. We also shouldn’t make assumptions about somebody based on their colour or culture, this is sometimes called ‘racial discrimination’.

 

To explore fairness and discrimination, make a list or draw all of all the things you like doing. Think of the emotions you would feel if you were stopped from doing those things because somebody else didn’t like your hairstyle, shoes, or hair colour. Act out the emotions.

 

Play a game of Fair or Not Fair – which of these statements do people think is fair (come up with an action or noise) or unfair (come up with a noise or action):

  • Drivers who drive too fast are given speeding tickets.
  • Purple staff get to mute anybody on zoom for not wearing the right coloured clothes.
  • Men get paid more than women for the same piece of work.
  • You get the blame for something you didn’t do.
  • Somebody pushes in front of you in the queue at the shops.
  • The bus driver allows you to use your pass on the bus and doesn’t make you pay.

Come up with your own suggestions of things that are fair / not fair.

 

Activity 2

MLK sought to end the racial segregation (something that keeps people apart and makes things separate) of Black and white people. It used to be the case that Black people weren’t allowed to eat in restaurants designated for white people, had to sit in different parts of the bus to the white people, had to use separate water fountains, etc.

 

Read, or ask somebody read to you the story ‘Why Frogs and Snakes Never Play Together’ about how people can sometimes pass on unjust fears, assumptions, and discriminations to others and create segregation. Try writing your own ending to the story in which the snakes and frogs remain friends.

 

Activity 3

Dr King made an iconic speech in 1963 entitled ‘I have a dream’. In the speech he spoke about the necessity for change, and the potential for hope in American society.

The change Dr King was looking for was for Black Americans to have equal rights as everybody else (i.e. fairness for Black people) and freedom from segregation and discrimination, and he hoped for the end of racism in the United States.

 

Come up with your own hopes, dreams and wishes:

I have a Dream…

For myself:

For my community:

For the world:

You could draw the hopes on speech bubbles or thought bubbles and hold them up next to your head as if they were your dreams.

 

Activity 4

On Martin Luther King day, Americans are encouraged to give some of their time on this day as volunteers for good causes.

Volunteer to do something for good today, either for your friends at Purple Patch, your friends/family at home, or for the world. Think back to your kindness resolutions from week 16, can you volunteer to make any more of those come true?

 

Activity 5

Being different to other people in a group isn’t a bad thing. Other people being a bit different to us isn’t something that’s wrong and is never a reason for us to pick on them for. We all have the right to be happy whatever we look like. We’re all unique and different and do things in our own ways – it’s what makes us special.

 

Think of different ways to complete tasks; we all do them slightly differently and all of those different ways are right. How many different ways can you think of to travel from one side of the room to the other – you could wheel in a wheelchair, sprint, hop, moon-walk, etc – give them all a go. How many different ways can you write your name on a piece of paper? How many different ways can you greet somebody? How many different ways can you draw a flower? Try them all! Come up with your own!

 

Activity 6

Another influential Black person is Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman was an African American woman who escaped slavery and then helped nearly 300 other slaves escape to freedom too.

Slavery is where people are owned by other people who then control where they live and what they do, including making the slave work for them. Slaves are not free to do what they like. what do you think that would be like? How would it make you feel?

 

Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in the USA, but in 1849 she made a stunning escape. Later she returned to guide nearly 300 other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad was a network of helpful people, safe houses (called ‘stations’) and secret routes, tunnels and back roads to help slaves escape. The people that helped the slaves escape were called ‘conductors’. Slaves would move from station to station at night, hiding in the woods or sneaking onto trains until they finally reached the north and freedom.

 

Mark out different areas on your floor that create a route (this could be done with masking tape, or areas numbered with post-it notes, for example). Move between these destinations along your route by hopping or jumping or moving ‘station-to-station’. Have somebody hide objects (such as balled up socks) in these places that you can help rescue, pick up, collect and take with you on your journey ‘North’ to the final destination on your route.

 

Activity 7

Harriet Tubman once said, “Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world”.

 

Reach into the sky with your arms as tall as you can when listening to this song.

 

Slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad could use the stars to help them navigate. The North Star was used to find north. Repeat activity 1, but instead of jumping station-to-station, cut out stars from card and paper, decorate or colour them and place them on the floor. Move between the stars and follow them on your journey across your room in the direction of the biggest star at the end, the North star.

 

The North Star can be found in the sky by looking for the constellation (group of stars) known as the Big and Little Dippers. The North Star is the star at the end of the “handle” of the Little Dipper (also referred to as a ‘Ladle’). Play a game of ‘This Is Not A Ladle’ with a ladle or big spoon as a prop to act out your suggestion. This is not a ladle, it’s an arrow pointing my way home. This is not a ladle, it’s a microphone! This is not a ladle it’s an oar to paddle my boat to India.

 

Try and learn the directions on a compass: north, south, east, and west? Typically these have been remembered by saying ‘Never Eat Shredded Wheat’ – can you come up with your own Mnemonics (using the first letter of each word)? Write them down, illustrate them.

 

Activity 8

The journeys that the slaves took were difficult, and Harriet’s great task to guide people to freedom was a huge and brave challenge.

 

Create a lantern like Harriet’s which she used to guide people along their path to freedom. You could either make a  paper lantern using this template and cutting along the lines. Or shine a torch under a jar or bottle filled with water and glitter.

 

Act out walking a path holding your lantern up to find the North Star. Listen to the song, ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’ here as you walk your path, the “drinking gourd” alludes to the hollowed out vegetable used by slaves as a water dipper (like a cup). Used here it is a code name for the Big Dipper star formation, which points to the North as a reminder that if people ever got lost they should walk in the direction of the North Star.

 

Activity 9

Cut out lots of stars (from paper, card, or magazines), and attaching them to string, make a garland of stars to stretch across your room to represent the route of the Underground Railroad. i.e. the distance between were the slaves were escaping in the South, to where Harriet successfully transported them to, e.g. Pennsylvania in the North, which was a free state.

 

Activity 10

Harriet Tubman used disguises to avoid getting caught on her journeys. She dressed as a man, old woman or middle class free African American. Make your own disguise by wearing unusual clothing, or making yourself a mask.

 

Activity 11

Songs were used in everyday life by slaves. Singing served many purposes such as providing rhythm for repetitive manual work, inspiration and motivation. Songs were used as tools to remember and communicate since the majority of slaves could not read. Make repetitive rhythms with your body (clapping, tapping, stomping) in time to this song.

 

Harriet Tubman and other slaves also used songs as a strategy to communicate. Coded songs contained code words giving directions on how to escape also known as ‘signal songs’ or where to meet known as ‘map songs’. For example, if a slave heard ‘Sweet Chariot’ they would know they had to get ready to escape as people were coming to take them to freedom…i.e. The Underground Railroad (sweet chariot) is coming south (swing low) to take the slave to the north or freedom (carry me home). This was one of Tubman’s favourite songs. Listen to the song here and join in singing, or do actions every time you hear ‘Coming for to carry me home’.

 

Activity 12

One of the reasons Harriet is special is due to how she repeatedly risked her own life to rescue and help many other people. Her story is an inspiring message of hope, strength, and generosity. Harriet has been compared to a bird soaring across the night sky, fluttering back down to the ground to help others fly too. Make a bird from a bun case like this, soaring in the sky.

 

Activity 13

To make sure they didn’t get lost on their journey to freedom, people kept an eye out for freedom quilts on their routes. These quilts were made by kind people who wanted to help others escape, and the quilts contained secret codes and symbols, such as specific patterns that meant ‘you should begin to pack for the journey’ and ‘you should get ready to escape’, or used as ways to alert people towards food, the way north, and danger. Because quilts were such an American tradition, they could be hung on porches or displayed on fences without attracting much attention.

 

Draw a large grid and in each square draw a different pattern or symbol, what would your patterns and symbols mean?

Cut squares and triangles from different coloured or textured materials; glue them down in your own quilt pattern.

 

 

Why not take a photo of any of the activities you’ve tried this week and share it with us? You can share it on our FacebookInstagram or Twitter or send it to melanie@purplepatcharts.org and we’ll put it online for you!