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Juneteenth Activities for Kids

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It’s never too early to start talking about and honoring Juneteenth with your family.

Juneteenth is a time for celebration and reflection with the whole family. The holiday, which recognizes the emancipation of African Americans who had been enslaved in the United States, is most often celebrated in African American families and communities on June 19th.

It’s never too early (or late!) to talk about and honor the meaning of this special holiday, no matter what your race or cultural background is. For children, Juneteenth is a great opportunity to talk about freedom—freedom of choice, expression, family and autonomy. It’s something that everyone should be able to experience, and something that’s certainly worth celebrating on Juneteenth and beyond.

(PS: If you find yourself in need of support to explain the context and significance of Juneteenth, this short explainer video is great for grown-ups and older kiddos alike!)

Celebrate Juneteenth Together

Juneteenth is rooted in joyful celebration, and that’s a great way to experience this holiday in your own neighborhood or city. Your community likely has a celebration planned and may feature educational speakers and booths, opportunities to shop Black-owned businesses, and experience traditional foods & music or entertainment.

You can also create awareness about Juneteenth at home throughout the month of June through conversations and activities.

  • Discuss the concept of freedom with your child. That may mean freedom to play with blocks versus balls, or freedom to eat apples versus oranges. You can find some age-appropriate guidelines here.
  • Attend religious services honoring emancipation day with your family. 
  • Host a Juneteenth cookout or a party.
  • Shop from Black-owned businesses.

Make a Juneteenth Craft

The Juneteenth flag holds great historical importance and is full of symbols.

The star is an homage to Texas, where the last slave received word of emancipation. It’s also a call to African-Americans living in each of the 50 states. The red, white and blue are representative of the American Flag—a reminder that slaves and their descendants were and are American.

You can talk about this symbolism with your child as you work on your projects. (Even if your child is too young to understand the nuance of everything you’re explaining, talking to them about important things from a young age matters.)

  • Juneteenth Flag: If you don’t have the right colored paper, have your child paint a page “edge to edge” with blue, and another with red.
  • Juneteenth Windsock: Same applies, re: paper.
  • Juneteenth Bracelet: For younger children, large pasta noodles are easier to string than beads, but these projects are all designed to be created with what you have on hand.
  • Pan African Flag Suncatcher: Tissue paper + contact paper = a really beautiful suncatcher for your window. Your child will love pressing the tissue on the sticky contact paper.
  • African “Djembe” Drum: This one is kind of complicated for little ones, but too fun not to share. Bookmark for next year, or craft it yourself for your child to play.

Vivvi’s Favorite Juneteenth Books

Reading to your child is one of the building blocks of language development, emotional connection, and so much more. Use this built in reading time with your child to explore new concepts, ideas, holidays, or questions.

Books about Juneteenth are a great way to begin to teach your child about emancipation. Especially if they make your baby happy to look at, are easy to read for you, and are historically accurate. Check, check, check.

Here are 5 of our favorite books about Juneteenth and Freedom Day.

  1. Let’s Celebrate Juneteenth
    By Tonya Abari, illustrated by Tabitha Brown
    Infant, Toddler
    Featuring rhyming text and colorful, bold artwork, this board book is a beautiful celebration of Juneteenth and helps familiarize your child with this important holiday.
  2. Juneteenth! A Celebration
    By Courtney Juste
    This book takes a complex and tough part of American history and breaks it down small enough for children to begin to understand. With vibrant illustrations it is great for storytimes or for older readers, as well.
  3. Jayylen’s Juneteenth Surprise
    By Lavaille Lavette, illustrated by David Wilkerson
    When Jayylen’s grandfather begins preparing for a big Juneteenth celebration, Jayylen has a lot of questions. Most importantly, what is Juneteenth?
  4. A Flag for Juneteenth
    By Kim Taylor
    A Flag for Juneteenth depicts a close-knit community of enslaved African Americans on a plantation in Texas, the day before the announcement is to be made that all enslaved people are free.
  5. The Juneteenth Story
    By Alliah L. Agostini, illustrated by Sawyer Cloud
    With colorful illustrations and a timeline, this introductory history of Juneteenth for kids details the evolution of the holiday commemorating the date the enslaved people of Texas first learned of their freedom​.

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