Explore the origins of this African celebration with these Kwanzaa themed activity worksheets.

What is Kwanzaa? Like other celebrations held in the U.S., one of the most notable celebrations is the Kwanzaa. Every year, the Kwanzaa is celebrated for seven days in the United States to honor universal African heritage and culture. It takes place from December 26th to January 1st. To be a part of the joyous event, the Non-African Americans also celebrate the Kwanzaa. The first-ever Kwanzaa was celebrated from 1966-1967. Many people decorate their homes with African art and the traditional colors of green, black, and red. People also wear traditional African clothing. The women wear a colorful wrap, which is known as Kaftan, while men wear colorful shirts called Dashiki paired with a hat called Kufi. The most important tradition of the Kwanzaa is the lighting of Kinara. It is a candle holder with seven candles. On the last day of Kwanzaa, the families get together for a large feast, which is known as Karamu. Sometimes, Karamu is also celebrated in local churches or community centers to enjoy the traditional African dishes.

These worksheets contain a number of different activities using a dedicated set of vocabulary words related to the Kwanzaa celebration, including word search, fill in the blanks, scrambled words, word wall flash cards, acrostic poems, crossword puzzles, and more. The collection also includes six different packs of Bingo cards, which can be used during discussions of the topics. Last but not least, a KWHL (know, what, how, learn) diagram is included to help students pick a topic to explore in more depth. About five years ago, NPR did a piece looking at if Kwanzaa really was a thing and they cited a National Retail Federation survey that found that two percent of Americans celebrate the holiday. The Kwanzaa worksheets below will help you better understand the history behind and the rituals of the holiday itself.

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Print Kwanzaa Worksheets

Click the buttons to print each worksheet and associated answer key.

Word Search Worksheet

Word Search

Includes the vocabulary: Africa, Banquet, Celebration, Collective, Cooperative, Creativity, Family, Harvest, Hope, Principles, Purpose, Reverence

Word Scramble Worksheet

Word Scrambler

You'll never guess the word that trips up the kids, the most often, it's "Creativity".

Letters Worksheet

Missing Letters

We are focusing it at removing 2 letters. A new version coming soon will feature very few letters.

Word Chop Worksheet

Word Chop

I would recommend working on this sheet before the spelling worksheets, it makes it easier to remember.

Crossword Worksheet

Crossword Puzzle

This worksheet works off of pictures that are present on the page for students.

Alphabetic Worksheet

Alphabetic Order

This is usually the way to kick off the unit. It allows students to become familiar with the words, but not stress about them.

Bingo Card #1

Bingo Card #1

Africa purpose hope December reverence

Bingo Card #2

Bingo Card #2

creativity family cooperative harvest candles

Bingo Card #3

Bingo Card #3

collective culture Free Space principles determined

Bingo Card #4

Bingo Card #4

Vocabulary includes: heritage Kwanzaa banquet dancing faith

Bingo Card #5

Bingo Card #5

music celebration drum commemoration singing

Bingo Card #6

Bingo Card Finisher

The last one in the series.

KWHL Worksheet

KWHL

This is usually a tough. Not many people have even heard of the holiday in many parts of the country.

Word Wall

Word Wall

Print the up and post them on your board or wall.

Poem Worksheet

Africa Poem

The holiday was created in the mid-1960s by Maulana Karenga.

Family Poem Worksheet

Family Poem

As with most holidays, family should be the focus of the holiday.

Kwanzaa Poem Worksheet

Kwanzaa Poem

The last worksheets in this unit. Make it count!

The History of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa is a festival that celebrates African ancestry and culture. It was first observed in 1966 and has spread from the small African-American community in the United States to a festival that is now celebrated worldwide.

While most people recognize this as an African-American holiday celebrated around the Christmas season, few know the history of this unique and important celebration that has grown in popularity over recent years.

What is the Story Behind This Holiday?

Matunda ya kwanza, which translates into "first fruits" in Swahili, is the inspiration for the name of Kwanzaa. The idea of this festival actually dates back to 1966, when Dr. Maulana Karenga decided to create an African-American holiday similar to Hanukkah or Yule, with its own special traditions and celebrations centered around cultural heritage and values. Originally titled Nguzo Saba (Swahili for seven principles), it was developed to serve as an alternative to traditional Christmas celebrations that had more of a European focus.

In its earliest incarnation, Kwanzaa honored black heroes like Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey alongside traditional African heroes like Shaka Zulu. It also recognized various parts of Africa's past-like first fruits festivals from Kenya and harvest festivals from Ethiopia-and some of its most prominent ancient leaders, including Egypt's Pharaoh Ramses II and Ghana's Queen Mother Yaa Asantewaa.

The Seven Core Principles:

1. Umoja (Unity): It mainly focuses on familial relationships and unity among people of the same race and society.

2. Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): It is our personal bond with the self; it focuses on how we should stand for ourselves and speak for ourselves.

3. Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): It believes that if there is a collaborative team, there is mutual respect and support in the society anything can be solved.

4. Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): It focuses on building businesses and helping the brothers and sisters earn and grow from them.

5. Nia (Purpose): This focuses on making the developmental changes and strengthening the community on common vocation in order to return people to their traditional glory.

6. Kuumba (Creativity): The purpose is to allow the community to grow in its culture and tradition more.

7. Imani (Faith): To have complete faith in our people, leaders, and the justice and victory of our cause.

How is This Holiday Celebrated?

In addition to celebrating each day between December 26 and January 1, many people also celebrate Kwanzaa by lighting a kinara (candleholder) in their home or gathering.

Candles represent light and enlightenment, both highly important concepts to followers of this holiday. Each day of celebration is dedicated to one value, which brings all seven principles together.

Gifting is also a key component of every evening meal during Kwanzaa celebrations. Traditionally, families would give gifts of firstfruits to each other as a symbol of thanks for another successful harvest. These gifts are given out with no expectations; they're given freely from person to person as a sign of love and goodwill. Families also choose to hold ceremonies honoring ancestors who have passed away over the past year, reciting prayers, and telling stories about those who have passed on.

Another tradition held at some Kwanzaas celebrations is called drumming. This ceremony involves singing, dancing, and playing drums while giving thanks to ancestors. Drumming can be done individually or as a group—it's meant to bring people together through music and dance in order to celebrate life and honor loved ones who have passed away.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, this is an important holiday in which we celebrate our culture, family, and heritage. So from December 26 to January 1, be sure to enjoy a hearty meal with your family and friends! Here's to another year!