PrintTwo to Three Forty-Minute Class Periods

The learnerwill:

  • demonstrate their awareness of how the African American community shares food as part of their giving and sharing tradition.
  • explain how the seven principles of Kwanzaa, as an extension of African American heritage, are an example of philanthropy.
  • research and plan a Kwanzaa celebration and demonstrate how it serves a philanthropic purpose.

Skill Objectives: Students will chart information.

  • Medearis, Angela Shelf. Seven Spools of Thread.
  • Medearis, Angela Shelf. The Seven Days of Kwanzaa - How to Celebrate Them. Scholastic (1994): p112.
  • Student Worksheet "Let's Give and Share a Little" (see Handout One) and Teacher Answer Sheet for "Let's Give and Share a Little" (see Handout Two).
  • Teacher's Notes: "Celebration of Kwanzaa" (see Handout Three).
  • Internet access for research: http://www.cnn.com/EVENTS/1996/kwanzaa/ http://members.tripod.com/~Nancy_J/kwanzaa.htm for recipes

Teacher Background Information: In the African American community, children learn to give through the act of sharing food early in life. It is traditional for families to gather at the home of the oldest family member for holiday celebrations, meals during the summer, etc. Food seems to bring together the family, as well as the African American community, in a number of ways. It is considered a holdover from the days of slavery when food was scarce. Since this is a major emphasis in the community, students will need to develop their own intrinsic definition of philanthropy. Kwanzaa is one example of the African American way of giving and sharing. Vocabulary:

  • celebration
  • Kwanzaa
  • sharing
  • Nguzo Saba
  • tradition
  • recipe


  1. Anticipatory Set:Ask the students if they are familiar with the celebration, Kwanzaa. Ask why it is celebrated. Explain that it is a celebration of the harvest, a time when members of family and community come together and share as well as give. Ask students how this celebration could be a philanthropic action among African Americans. How do others benefit from their actions?

  2. Read Seven Spools of Thread (see Bibliographic References). In a group setting, discuss how philanthropy was portrayed in the book.

  3. Allow students to write reflectively about a time that they had an opportunity to share/give. Include the questions: How did you feel? Would you do the same thing again? Why or why not? How do you think the recipient felt? Do you think it made a difference in the person's life? Explain your answer. Allow students to share with the entire class/group.

  4. Distribute "Let's Give and Share a Little" sheets to students (see Handout One). Ask students to give three examples in each of the three areas of how they share on a daily basis.

  5. Divide students into groups of three to discuss their answers and decide ways that they can be more philanthropic.

  6. Bring students back together to create a classroom chart of ways they show philanthropy.

  7. Ask students to think of other ways in which other individuals in their family provide philanthropic actions. Ask students to cite their examples.

  8. Teachers should open the Kwanzaa web site to access information about the holiday. http://www.cnn.com/EVENTS/1996/kwanzaa/

  9. In a whole group setting provide information for students on Kwanzaa. (See Handout Three Teacher's Notes for information if the Internet is not available.) Discuss the purposes of the celebration of Kwanzaa and ask students to decide where philanthropy is in the celebration.

  10. Ask students to research with a partner and find two different African American recipes that might be eaten during the celebration (also see Sample Recipes in Handout Four). Have them convert the recipes to feed twenty persons.

  11. Students may write an invitation to someone to attend the Kwanzaa celebration using the appropriate components: date, location, time, and purpose.

  12. Prepare a Kwanzaa celebration using recipes students have researched.


Student involvement providing oral responses to Introduction/Anticipatory Set. Written reflection about creation of philanthropic actions performed for Kwanzaa. Self-Assessment definition of philanthropic actions. Students converting measurements of one original recipe to feed 20 people (see Sample Recipes in Handout Four). Student invitation to the Kwanzaa event, using the components of an invitation: date, location, time, and why. Students will write two paragraphs about the creation of Kwanzaa using the name of its creator, why it was started, when it is celebrated, and at least 3 of its principles that have a strong association with philanthropy.

Rubric for Kwanzaa:

1 Point: Includes creator name, why it was started, and when it is celebrated.

2 Points: Makes one philanthropic connection to one Kwanzaa principle. Includes creator name, why it was started, when it is celebrated, and at least two principles that illustrate philanthropy.

3 Points: Includes creator name, why it was started, when it is celebrated, and at least three principles that represent philanthropy.

4 Points: Includes creator name, why it was started, when it is celebrated, and at least three principles that are connected to philanthropy and explains why.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will plan and create a Kwanzaa celebration including pictures and/or text for Nguzo Saba.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.2 Identify examples of families supporting giving and sharing.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.1 Give examples of philanthropic traditions of diverse cultures.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.