Have you ever learned about and/or celebrated Juneteeth at home or in the classroom? Juneteenth is short for June Nineteenth. June 19th is a holiday that marks the day that enslaved people that lived in our country, found out that they were legally free. It isn’t a national holiday, yet, but it’s important to know about! Imagine the day when Juneteenth can be known about, valued, and remembered by all U.S. Americans.
In order to bring this important day to students and our children, Naomi O’Brien and I created an eBook to give our students the history behind this day. We also created some activities that would give students and kids a chance to do something with their new knowledge.
Below you will find a few pages from the eBook created. We project our books on the board and read aloud. We pause when needed to allow students to process and take in the information. Whenever we teach social studies, we always take the time to build our students knowledge around the content we want them to learn. We make time for turn and talks. We allow our students to share their ideas and respectfully agree or disagree.
We follow up by having our students fill out a reflection sheet. Even emerging writers can use a combination of letters and pictures to share their ideas. I always love give them some independent time to reflect. Then we bring our sheets back to the whole group area and share our reflections with a friend. Those who would like to share with the entire group have the chance to. The powerful and insightful conversations that start always blow me away!
In this resource we also included a Juneteenth magazine template. This would be a create way for students to show what the learned and share this learning with others! One year (with a different topic), I had my students create a magazine. I made color copies and binded them all together to make a full magazine for each student to take home. They loved it. When we give our students’ writing, a real audience, it helps them build a sense of pride about their writing.
We decided that it would be special for our students to plan a remembrance day for Juneteenth. We realized that it would be appropriate and respectful not to just plan a celebration. This day may not feel like a celebration for some people for various reasons. We want our students to really think about what this day cold be in their community. With their class or with their families.
We also really wanted to think about the WHY behind each decisions. This would be a good chance to make sure students didn’t simply plan a fun party without thinking about the true meaning and history of this day.
This day is for everyone. It can be used to educate yourself about issues the Black community still faces and see how you can help. To teach your kids powerful history lessons and have hard, but important and honest conversations. It can be a day of remembrance for the Black community. How far we’ve come, but how far we still we still need to go. It can be a day to celebrate freedom from enslavement and honor our ancestors. It can be a day to mourn and think about all we fight on a daily basis. It can be a day that as a country (the United States of America) we commit to doing better. We hope you and your students, or you and your children enjoy this resource and your Juneteenth.