OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — February is Black History Month, a month where we honor and celebrate the contributions that African Americans have made for our country while recognizing Black history in the U.S. One organization is making sure children understand that importance at an early age.
The Omaha Children’s Museum has always celebrated Black History Month but this year they wanted to take it a step further and begin educating children on African American history here in the US and what they had to face.
The museum partnered with University of Nebraska Omaha College of Education Professor Dr. William Austin and college students who are pursuing educational careers to choose a book and activity for Black History Month storytime.
The book is called Your Legacy: A Bold Reclaiming of Our Enslaved History. The storytelling is followed by a game that young slaves used to play on the plantations.
The UNO students read the book aloud and lead the activities after.
The museum says this combination of education and fun creates a strong learning environment, and while this may spark difficult conversations, they are important ones to have.
“We are aware of the studies that have shown that even children who are as young as three or younger recognize race, and it’s okay to have these age-appropriate conversations. Our part in this is just to kind of get the ball rolling,” Omaha Children’s Museum Director of Marketing and PR Kim Reiner said. “Like here’s a wonderful story, and then we incorporate a game after the story that still has historical significance.”
The museum is handing out info and resource sheets to parents and guardians after the activities to help guide them through future discussions.
On top of that, the museum is also choosing an African American that has made a significant contribution to our country to highlight each day and follow up the discussion with an activity related to the person.
“We believe that it is very important that children see themselves represented at our museum, and that they see people that are different from themselves represented so that they see a spectrum of our community,” Reiner said. “So, we have a S.T.E.A.M. power program where we talk about a scientist or an engineer and their contribution to society, and then we do a hands-on experiment about that.”
The storytelling activities take place Tuesday - Saturday at 1:30 p.m. throughout February.