Habari Gani (What Is the News?)
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Identify ways that trust is important in all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
      3. Benchmark E.7 Describe why the classroom, school, or neighborhood is a community governed by fundamental democratic principles.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.

Learners develop an understanding of the seven principles of Kwanzaa through artistic applications. They are challenged to apply the principles to their everyday lives in a way that enhances the communities to which they belong.

PrintThree 30-Minute Sessions

The learner will:

  • identify the first three principles of Kwanzaa.
  • connect each principle to their own life.
  • Kinara made in lesson one
  • Yellow construction paper or yellow crayons for candle flames
  • green, red, and black strips to make a paper chain
  • index cards (one per child) in groups of three with the letters U, JI, and MA on the separate cards. 
Home Connection: 

Learners talk with their families about the principles learned from the first three days of Kwanzaa. (See handout: Kwanzaa Principles.)

  • Ford, Juwanda. K is for Kwanzaa. Cartwheel Books, 1997. ISBN: 0590922009
  • Jay, Stephen. “Africa: Drum, Chant, and Instrumental Music.” Elektra Records 9720732
  • Johnson, Dolores. The Children’s Book of Kwanzaa: A Guide to Celebrate the Holiday. Aladdin Paperbacks, 1997. ISBN: 0689815565
  • Pinkney, Andrea Davis. Seven Candles of Kwanzaa. Dial Books for Young Readers, 1993. ISBN: 0803712928
  • Robertson, Linda. Kwanzaa Fun. Houghton Mifflin Co., 2003. ISBN: 0753456850
  1. Day One of Kwanzaa:

    Introduce and define“Habari Gani” (hah – BAR – ee GAH – nee). It is a Swahili term meaning “What is the news?” It is spoken when greeting others during Kwanzaa. The appropriate response is to say the name of the principle for that day. Each day of Kwanzaa centers around a principle. Over the next seven lessons, we will learn about these principles.

    Today’s principle is Umoja (oo-MOW - jah). When the facilitator says, "Habari Gani," the learners respond by saying “Umoja.”

  2. The learners may “light” the first green candle of the kinara. (Cut out a yellow flame from construction paper and glue it on the top of the first green candle. Or color the flame of the first candle. This is the candle representing Umoja.

  3. Read aloud about Umoja from the Internet or one or more of the books about Kwanzaa (see Bibliography). Umoja means unity. Tell that unity is a Kwanzaa principle because one of the goals of Kwanzaa is to unite the African American community. On the first day of Kwanzaa, African Americans are reminded of the importance of unity within the community.

  4. Define community as people coming together for the good of the group. Discuss and give examples of the principle of unity in the community. Make a list of the brainstormed events, practices, values, shared interests, rules, etc. that demonstrate unity within the community. In all types of communities, unity holds people together and makes the group stronger.

  5. To reinforce the concept for today, make a unity chain. Each person writes their name on one green or red strip of paper. On other green or red strips, they write their talents and things they do for the good of others (I share, I'm a good reader, I welcome people). Using glue or tape, they work together to link the strips into a long chain to display and remind the group that our individual talents and gifts to the community make us stronger. To make a visual pattern, add some black rings into the chain. 

  6. Optional: Decide on one aspect of unity that they want to work on improving together (sharing, teamwork, making sure everyone has someone to play with on the playground). Display their goal on a Kwanzaa bulletin board.


    Write and say today's principle: Kujichgulia (koo-jee-chah-GOO-lee-ah). Tell the students that you will say Habari Gani (What is the news?) and you want them to respond by saying “Kujichagulia.”

  8. Day Two of Kwanzaa:

    They may “light” the second green candle of the kinara. This is the candle representing Kujichagulia.

  9. Read aloud about Kujichagulia in one or more of the books about Kwanzaa (see Bibliography). Discuss what Kujichagulia means (self-determination, or doing what it takes to get the job done—perseverance).

  10. As a group, discuss and give examples of times they stuck with something when it was hard. Discuss what helped them keep going when they wanted to give up. Talk about why self-determination, or perseverance, is good for the community.

    Optional: have each young person write a personal goal related to self-determination.


    Gather the students in a circle on the floor. As they listen to some African drum/chant music, teach them a rhythm for the word concentration. Concentration: hit your lap with both hands, clap your hands, snap on right hand, then snap on left hand. As they gain confidence with this, you may have them chant one of the vocabulary words of Kwanzaa.

  12. Day Three of Kwanzaa:

    They may “light” the third green candle of the kinara. This is the candle representing Ujima. When the facilitator says, "Habari Gani" (What is the news?), they respond by saying “Ujima.” Do not write ujima anywhere that they can see it until after the spelling exercise below.

  13. Read aloud about Ujima in one or more of the books about Kwanzaa (see Bibliography). Ujima means (working together).

  14. Divide the class into groups of three. They work together to spell the word ujima. Pass out the sets of index cards—three cards per group with the letters u, ji and ma printed on them. Listen to them as they attempt to figure it out. Listen for words of encouragement and problem solving. The groups hold their cards up in order when you give the cue.

  15. Talk about the principle for the day. Repeat some of the comments you heard as they were working and discuss what helped them solve the problem. Discuss why working together is good for the community.

  16. As a reflection, each day they fill in the information that was learned on the “What We Learned” chart (See handout from lesson one).