It is the ultimate goal of my homeschool that my children look back on these years and recall how much we celebrated. We celebrate favorite authors and silly holidays like Winnie the Pooh Day and Mad Hatter Day. We celebrate feast days of our favorite Saints and solemnities of the liturgical calendar. We celebrate culturally important holidays too such as Hispanic Heritage Month because nothing warms my homeschool mama heart like celebrating the universality of our Catholic faith and integrating different school subjects in the process.
This February, I am making it my mission to celebrate Black History Month but with 6 kids and a serious case of baby brain (our youngest is 5 months), I knew I had to make whatever I planned S-I-M-P-L-E. Using trusted Catholic sources, I decided a fine arts focus to celebrate Black History Month would be the easiest for me to insert into our Morning Basket but would also have a significant impact on the young minds I am charged with cultivating. Here is what we are doing, with a different focus each week.
Week 1 - Art
I knew I could count on my favorite Catholic publisher to help with an artist and picture study for the month and Catholic Heritage Curricula did not let me down. Using a beautiful print from CHC’s Art Masterpieces: Childhood Collection, I introduced my family to the African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner. We completed the lesson in the accompanying teaching booklet as well. My older children and I also read through the picture study of Tanner’s The Banjo Lesson in CHC’s Ever Ancient Ever New Level 2. The print of Tanner’s The Thankful Poor, will stay up all month on our feast table. It is a very touching work of art.
Week 2 - Literature & Saint Study
I wish I could have the time to study all the wonderful Black Saints in our faith! There are so many I know would impress and inspire my children, but regrettably we still need time to complete other school subjects like…shudder…math. So, I have limited our Saint study to two, Venerable Augustus Tolton and St. Josephine Bakhita. Last year, I purchased a Kindle copy of Pauline Books and Media’s 16 Black Saints and Advocates For Racial Justice for $1.99. We will be reading through the chapters on Ven. Augustus Tolton and St. Josephine Bakhita as well as selections about St. Josephine on Stories of the Saints by Carrey Wallace and Saints Around the World by Meg Hunter Kilmer. Dinner will be spaghetti because St. Josephine found God and freedom in Italy. We also observed the International Day of Prayer for Victims Against Human Trafficking on February 8th.
Week 3 - Music
Making Music Praying Twice (MMP2) is a delightful music program for Catholic children that follows the liturgical year. As a happy coincidence, there is a song from the Ordinary Time Winter collection of MMP2 which is a West African Folk Song called ‘Ee Namaye.” My kids will learn that song and read about African music and instruments. I will also be using our Hallow app to study Gospel spirituals. If you have not heard of the Catholic app Hallow, please look it up. It’s a-ma-zing!! We will listen to Amanda Vernon’s reflections and renditions on Gospel Spirituals on the app. I have previewed them and she has a beautiful gift for music.
Week 4 - Film
For my teens, we will watch “Lilies of the Field” with Sidney Poitier. Poitier recently passed and he was the first African American to win an Oscar for best actor for his role in this movie. It is available free on Amazon Prime Movies where it is rated 13+. I would also recommend this movie for teens and up. I hope watching this will inspire my two teens to read the book!
And that’s it! Hope these simple plans have inspired you to explore and celebrate Black History Month in your homeschool. Here are a couple of links for other ideas: