Elementary Curriculum Newsletter

December 2020

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The purpose of Open Office Hours is for teachers to receive support regarding content and resources. The curriculum coordinator will be available via Zoom to answer questions. You do not need to stay the entire time. You can join the session using the Zoom link, ask your question, and leave or remain to collaborate with other teachers. Throughout the year, the office hours may focus on a specific resource or topic question instead of just open for general content questions.

Below are the current dates and times for the office hours.

This Smores Newsletter will be updated if the office hour time frames change throughout the month.

English Language Arts

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

3:30 - 4:30 pm

Open office hours - ask questions and receive support with HMH: Ed Your Friend in Learning, Fundations, i-Ready, RIMPs, or any other component of the Literacy Block!


Live HMH Support

Did you know that HMH hosts live events where you can connect with HMH coaches and other teachers to ask questions and get support? Register for these sessions by clicking on the Professional Learning tab on Ed online, then click on the Live Events.

Upcoming Sessions

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Thursday, December 10, 2020


Tuesday, December 15, 2020

3:30 - 4:30 pm

Open Topics including questions about the Math Framework and Curriculum Resources


Science & Social Studies

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

3:30 - 4:30 pm

This will be an open forum for asking questions about science.


Library Services & Instructional Technology

Thursday, December 10, 2020

3:45 -4:45 pm

This will be an open forum for asking questions and receiving support with instructional tech.


Spruce Run Resources/field trips with Geri Granger

Every Thursday from 3:30 - 5:30 pm


Meeting ID: 396 325 2269

Passcode: 3SsAit

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Elementary Digital Binder

What are the new 2020-2021 resources in the Digital Binder?


  • MTSS Guidebook
  • Revised ELA Framework
  • Curriculum Guides
  • RIMP Resources
  • Fundations
  • Document with connections to HMH modules & Social Studies


  • MTSS Guidebook
  • Revised Math Framework
  • Curriculum Guides
  • Resources to support discourse


  • Curriculum Guides
  • Many updated Lesson Exemplars
  • Mystery Science getting started document and other resources in the SUPPLEMENTAL RESOURCES section


  • Curriculum Guides
  • Updated Course Sites (links to lessons, videos, book read alouds, Studies Weekly information)
  • Document with connections to HMH modules & Social Studies


  • New section for monthly elementary curriculum NEWSLETTERS
  • On-demand PD videos and facilitation guides under PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT RESOURCES

You will need to be logged into your CCS Google account to access the Digital Binder

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Elevating Remote Learning

If you are looking for a little PD over the winter break, the CCS curriculum department on-demand PD is available on the Digital Binder. Once on the Digital Binder use the left side bar (or drop down menu) to select Professional Development Resources.

CEUs cannot be given for on-demand PD outside of PD Day

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Priority Standards

Priority standards are identified with an * and can be found in the CCS ELA and Math Curriculum Guides located in the Digital Resource Binder . The following information and considerations from Achievethecore.org were made when determining and selecting priority standards:

  • Priority Standards name the content that should be of focus for all students, recognizing that intentional instructional choices will be essential for supporting all students to mastery, and that this is especially true for students with specialized learning needs.
  • Priority Standards recognize that it is critical to ensure that all students, including English Learners and students with specialized learning needs, have the instructional supports and scaffolds that supplement, and do not supplant, core instruction and thereby ensure students’ access to grade-level content.
  • Recognize that not all content in a given grade should be emphasized equally. Some standards require greater emphasis than others based on the literacy research about what matters most and the time and practice that they take to develop. The remaining supporting standards can be incorporated into instruction in service of the major/priority standards.
  • ELA: Focus on Standards That Represent the Major Work of ELA/Literacy Instruction: Learning to Read, Close Reading of Complex Texts, and Volume of Reading to Build Knowledge
  • Math: recognize the key concepts that students need to have a strong foundation based on work they will be engaging in the next year.

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RIMP Updates

In the RIMP Resources section of the DIgital Binder, you will find:

  • a link to the 3GRG Process from Start to Finish
  • directions for parent notification letters, creating a RIMP, parent signature form, and how parents can access the RIMP from the Parent Portal

If you are having trouble with the technical aspect of the document (ex. Locking the document, Parents accessing the RIMP and signing the RIMP) please submit an Infinite Campus ticket

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Small group instruction is an opportunity for teachers to provide differentiated instruction based on student needs. This on level instruction provides support and scaffolds to students so they can better meet the level of rigor required by the grade level standard or extend their learning. Student groupings are flexible. Small group instruction gives the teacher time to provide support to students on concepts as well as provide enrichment. Teachers are able to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the students. Students' misconceptions and gaps may be addressed during instruction. Teachers are able to scaffold students' instruction so grade level concepts can be mastered.

When planning for small group instruction, determine learning intentions and success criteria for the lesson. Decide on the instructional scaffolds that will be needed to support the learners as they engage with grade level concepts and determine instructional strategies for the lesson that will deepen students' understanding of the math concepts. Create groups based on similar instructional needs. Plan instructional resources and tools that will be used in the lesson including manipulatives and models. Teachers should allow productive struggle to occur when students engage with the task and provide opportunities for mathematical discourse. Students should have access to manipulatives to construct models in order to deepen conceptual knowledge. Student misconceptions should be addressed. The teacher should collect evidence of student understanding.

In the Virtual Classroom, small group instruction can continue. Breakout rooms are a great way for students to engage in small group instruction. Here is an article from EdTech on best practices for managing breakout rooms. LINK TO ARTICLE - 5 Best Practices for Managing Virtual Breakout Rooms

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If you are looking for virtual field trips with live educators, pre-recorded field trips, lesson plans, interactive websites, webcams, etc. click the link below to see the Virtual Field Trip Google Document.

This document will change over time when new field trips are discovered.

If you know of a good opportunity for K-5 students, please email Heather Allen, hallen704@columbus.k12.oh.us so it can be added to the list.

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Ohio Energy Project - STEM Design Challenge (Grade 3-6)

This year’s Energy Workshops will be a STEM Design Challenge.

The challenge is open to 3rd-6th grade.

Whether you are in-person instruction, teaching your students virtually or a hybrid of the two, your students can participate!

This year’s program will be a MacGyver Wind Lift Design Challenge.

OEP will provide materials so every student can participate independently and supplies will not need to be shared.

MacGyver Windmill Activity
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Census Activities for December

There are many ways to incorporate Census data into your lessons.

Discover fun facts about the holiday season using the following links:

Link to 2018 Holiday Season Facts

Link to Teacher Guide

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Did you know you could reset an assessment in Studies Weekly?

Teachers can reset weekly assessments for students in the Studies Weekly platform. You can reset one student, a group of students, or the entire class.

Video: https://share.vidyard.com/watch/rmNmjMnUq3K5eijgjCbLRg?

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Integrate Highlights Library into Your Classroom

Learn How to Use and Integrate Highlights Library into Your Classroom

INFOhio is providing Highlights Library to all Ohio schools and helping educators integrate the resource, too! With over 2,600 eBooks and videos for students in grades PreK-5, INFOhio’s newest class in the INFOhio K-5 Digital Content Learning Pathway will help you learn more about this resource, its features that support reading, and best practices for integrating its quality digital text into the classroom.

The Highlights Library class is available at no cost to Ohio educators via INFOhio Campus, the go-to place for professional development from INFOhio. This self-paced online class allows participants to learn at their own pace and earn two contact hours upon successful completion of a final quiz.

Quality digital resources to support hybrid, remote, and blended learning are essential in today's schools. INFOhio’s Highlights Library class will help you learn more about how to use familiar Highlights stories that focus on the whole child to promote a love of reading. You will also learn how to use Highlights’ beloved Hidden Pictures to engage students.

Take a look at the complete list of objectives for the Highlights Library class. For questions or more information, visit support.infohio.org.

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Columbus Metropolitan Library is offering a Winter Reading Challenge from December 1 - January 30.

  • All students K-12 may sign up individually through the Columbus Metropolitan Library to participate.
  • This year K-6 teachers may sign up for their classrooms to participate in the CML Winter Challenge. Teachers may sign up for their classroom before December 20 (and while supplies last) at https://columbuslibrarywinter.readsquared.com/

More information to come about the K-5 CCS Winter Packets


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December 7 - Letter Writing Day

Letter Writing Day is always on December 7.

Take a few minutes, and send someone a handwritten letter.

Does anybody write letters anymore!?

Letter writing is almost a lost art skill. Most letters and notes nowadays are on texts, emails and instant messages. Messages are sent much more quickly via smartphones and the internet.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone, either printed or in cursive?

There is no clear origin of Letter Writing Day. One possibility is that this day evolved from Japan, and the hobby of stamp collecting. Japan has a Letter Writing Week and a Letter Writing Day. Actually, the Japanese Letter Writing Day is held monthly on the 23rd of each month.

A second possibility is that this day evolved from one of many school-related letter writing days. These events are often one time events and have been held on a myriad of dates. Regardless, of how it originated, Letter Writing Day is here. Participate in this unique day, by sending someone a handwritten letter today. The recipient will be glad you did.

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December 7 - Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day

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December 15 - Bill of Rights Day

The Bill of Rights Day is always recognized on December 15.

To Americans, the Bill of Rights are key amendments to the U.S. Constitution, that protect our individual rights.

On March 4, 1789, the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified by the (former)13 colonies and went into effect. States and individuals were concerned that the Constitution did not properly cover and protect a number of rights of individuals. The Constitution was signed by the original 13 states with the requirement, or understanding, that a Bill of Rights would be created, amending the new U.S. Constitution.

On September 25, 1789, the First Congress of the United States proposed to the state legislatures 12 amendments to the Constitution. 10 of these amendments were added to the Constitution on December 15, 1791.

The Bill of Rights includes these Amendments:

Amendment 1- Freedom of speech, press and religion

Amendment 2 - The right to bear arms

Amendment 3- Protection of homeowners from quartering troops, except during war.

Amendment 4 - Rights and protections against unreasonable search and seizure

Amendment 5 - Rights of due process of law, protection against double jeopardy, self-incrimination

Amendment 6 - Rights of a speedy trial by jury of peers and rights of accused

Amendment 7 - Rights to trial by jury in civil cases

Amendment 8 - Protection from cruel and unusual punishment, excessive bail

Amendment 9 - Protection of rights not specified in the Bill of Rights

Amendment 10 - States rights, power of the states

Of the 12 original amendments, which ones were not approved?

The original Amendments # 1 and #2 did not pass.

They dealt with the number of representatives to Congress and compensation to representatives. Had they passed, there would be over 6,000 congressmen today!!!

On Bill of Rights Day, celebrate your American Citizenship, and spend a few minutes reflecting upon the freedoms that you enjoy. These freedoms do not exist in many countries of the world.

YouTube videos:

A 3-minute guide to the Bill of Rights - Belinda Stutzman by TED-ed (3:34 min)

Bill of Rights (Shake it off) song (3:33 min)

Bill of Rights for Kids in plain English by 4th grade class (4:13 min)

Schoolhouse Rock: America - I'm Just a Bill Music Video
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December 21 - Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year.

It happens when the Earth's North Pole is tilted farthest from the Sun.


National Geographic Kids

Winter Solstice Facts for Kids - Kids Kiddle

Winter Solstice Facts and Information - Mocomi

YouTube videos:

What happens during the winter solstice? Met Office, Learn About Weather

What is a solstice? National Geographic (2:01 min)

Get Epic books:

Winter Solstice by Jenna Lee Gleisner

What Was Stonehenge For? by Anita Croy

YouTube book read aloud:

The First Day Of Winter by Denise Fleming

The Solstice Fairy by Loreley Amiti

Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter by Kenard Pak

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December Holidays Around the World

St. Nicholas Day - December 6

St. Nicholas Day

This December holiday isn’t largely celebrated in the United States, but is big in many European countries. On the anniversary of St. Nicholas’ death on December 6th 343 A.D., this holiday pays tribute to a man who spent most of his life helping those in need.

There are many stories about his secret good deeds, but one seems particularly well known. A very poor man had three daughters and to help them, St. Nicholas threw a bag of gold for each daughter through their windows. The treasures are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left by the fire to dry.

Today, children place a shoe outside their door in the hopes that some treasure will be left inside. In some countries, it’s believed that St. Nicholas arrives in November and spends several weeks traveling throughout the countryside on a horse or donkey finding out if children have been good (better than an elf on a shelf!).

Bodhi Day - December8

Each year on December 8th, Buddhists celebrate the day that Siddhartha Gautama achieved enlightenment through meditation. The word Bodhi means awakening or enlightenment.

Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, is popularly known as the Buddha. Siddhartha, once an Indian Prince, eventually abandoned his life of luxury for a much simpler one. Many believe that Siddhartha resolved to sit underneath a Bodhi tree and meditate until he found the root of suffering and how to free himself from it.

It took 49 days of unbroken meditation. After becoming enlightened and experiencing Nirvana, Siddhartha became a Buddha, or “Awakened One.” For 2,500 years, Buddha’s enlightenment has served as the central tenant of the Buddhist faith.

The Bodhi tree grows near the banks of the Falgu River in Gaya, India. Also located there is a Buddhist temple. Buddhists consider it their most sacred site of pilgrimage.


Some Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death all on one day. They call the celebration Vesak, and follow the lunar calendar to prepare for the observance. Mahayana Buddhists in China, Korea, and Vietnam break up Vesak into three separate holy days. One of the three days includes Buddha’s enlightenment or Bodhi Day. Mahayana Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day on the 8th day of the 12th month of the lunar calendar, which means the dates change from year to year.

In Japan, however, Bodhi Day follows the Gregorian calendar. This is thanks to Emperor Meiji, who began the westernization of Japan when he ruled from 1867 to 1912. Every year, Bodhi Day in Japan is celebrated on December 8th. It’s not known what year it became a day of celebration.

Hanukkah - December 10-18

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the dedicating of the second temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah lasts eight days starting on the 25th day of the Hebrew month Kislev. This day can occur anytime from late November to late December.

Who celebrates Hanukkah?

Jewish people around the world celebrate these holidays.

What do people do to celebrate?

  • There are a number of traditions and rituals associated with Hanukkah. Many families celebrate by exchanging gifts each night of the 8 day celebration.
  • Lighting the Menorah - The menorah is a special candelabrum with 9 candles. Each day an additional candle is lit. The ninth candle is called a shamash. This candle is generally in the middle and set higher from the other 8 candles to separate it from the rest. It is the only candle that is supposed to be used for light.
  • Singing of Hymns - There are Jewish songs and hymns that are special for Hanukkah. One of them is the Maoz Tzur which is sung each night after the menorah candles are lit.
  • The Dreidel - The dreidel is a four sided top that children play with during Hanukkah. Each side has a letter that has special significance to the Hebrew religion.
  • Special Foods - Hebrew people eat special foods during this time. The traditional food is fried in olive oil to represent the miracle of the burning oil lamp. They enjoy potato pancakes, doughnuts stuffed with jam, and fritters.

History of Hanukkah

In 164 BCE, the Jewish people revolted against the Greeks in the Maccabean War. After their victory they cleansed the temple and re-dedicated it. There was an oil lamp there that only had one day of oil, but the lamp burned for 8 days. This is called the miracle of the oil and is where the 8 days of celebration comes from.

Fun Facts About Hanukkah

  • Other spellings for this holiday include Chanukah and Chanukkah.
  • It is often referred to as the Festival of Lights or the Festival of Dedication.
  • The word Hanukkah comes from the Hebrew word meaning "to dedicate".
  • This was not a major Jewish holiday until the late 1800s. Now it is one of the most popular and celebrated Jewish holidays.
  • One tradition is to give gold coins called gelt. Today children are often given chocolate coins in a gold wrapping to make them look like gelt.
  • The menorah candles are to burn for at least half an hour after the sun sets.

Las Posadas - December 16-24

Las Posadas is an important Mexican tradition during the holidays–complete with prayer, music, food, and piñatas.

Las Posadas, a nine-night celebration from December 16th to 24th, is an important part of Christmas celebrations in Mexico. Each night, people go to a party at a different home.

They commemorate Mary and Joseph's search for an inn by forming a procession to that evening’s location and symbolically asking for shelter. When the owner of the home finally lets everyone in, they celebrate!

For children, the highlight of the night is often the breaking of the piñata, a brightly decorated paper (or pottery) container filled with candy and toys.

Little Passports Website

YouTube Read Aloud - The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola (10:56 min)

Christmas - December 25

Christmas is a Christian holiday that takes place on December 25th and celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe is the son of God. Many non-Christians also celebrate this day as a time of peace, joy, family, and giving of presents.

This December holiday is celebrated by over two billion people worldwide, through family gatherings, gift exchanges, special masses, caroling, and infamous Christmas decorations.

How do people do to celebrate?

  • There are lots of ways that people celebrate Christmas. Most people get together with family and exchange gifts on Christmas morning. Many people attend church services either on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve.
  • Christmas decorations are a big part of the holiday. People decorate their homes with festive lights and winter decorations. They also usually put up a Christmas tree and decorate it with ornaments and lights.
  • Another part of the celebration of Christmas is Christmas songs such as Silent Night, Away in a Manger, The First Noel, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and Jingle Bells.
  • In the United States Christmas is a national federal holiday. Most government offices, schools, and businesses are closed for Christmas.

History of Christmas Day

Christmas celebrates the day that Jesus Christ was born to Joseph and Mary in the city of Bethlehem. The biblical story tells that he was immaculately conceived by his parents Mary and Joseph, and born in a stable because all the inns were full. He went on to perform many miracles, spread the word of God, and ultimately was crucified for the sins of humanity.

Celebrating Christmas didn't become a large event in the United States until the middle of the 1800s. About this time, the day started to become a popular time for family gatherings. In 1870 the day became an official federal holiday in the US and has grown more popular since.

Fun Facts About Christmas Day

  • If you add up all the gifts given in the song the Twelve Days of Christmas there are 364 total gifts.
  • Alabama was the first state to recognize Christmas as a holiday. Oklahoma was the last state to do so.
  • The tradition of the Christmas tree comes from the country of Germany. The earliest known decorations for the tree were apples.
  • The first US postage stamp with a Christian theme was in 1962.
  • Around 1/6 of all retail sales in the United States are Christmas purchases.
  • Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Arabic: Milad Majid

Chinese: (Cantonese) Gun Tso Sun Tan'Gung Haw Sun

Chinese (Mandarin): Sheng Dan Kuai Le

Croatian: Sretan Bozic

Danish: Glædelig Jul

French: Joyeux Noel

German: Fröhliche Weihnachten

Greek: Kala Christouyenna

Hawaiian: Mele Kalikimaka

Italian: Buone Feste Natalizie

Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto

Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha

Portuguese: Feliz Natal

Swedish: God Jul

Spanish: Feliz Navidad

Boxing Day - December 26

Boxing Day has nothing to do with the fighting sport of boxing, but rather is a day when gifts are given to people in the service industry like mail carriers, doormen, porters, and tradesmen.

Boxing Day is celebrated the day after Christmas, December 26th

Who celebrates this day?

This day is a holiday in the United Kingdom and most other areas that were settled by the English except the United States. Other countries that celebrate the holiday include New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

What do people do to celebrate?

The main thing people do to celebrate is to tip any service workers who have worked for them throughout the year such as postal workers, paperboy or papergirl, driver, and doormen.

The holiday is also a day to give to the poor. Some people gather gifts in Christmas boxes to give to poor children throughout the world.

In many countries, Boxing Day has become a large shopping day. Just like Black Friday after Thanksgiving, Boxing Day is a day of big markdowns on products that stores were not able to sell for Christmas.

Other ways people celebrate include traditional hunts, family reunions, and sporting events such as football.

History of Boxing Day

No one is quite sure where Boxing Day got its start. Here are a few of the possible origins of the day:

  • One possible origin is from metal boxes that were placed outside of churches during the Middle Ages. These boxes were for offerings to give to the poor on the Feast of St. Stephen, which is also celebrated on the 26th.
  • Another possible origin is from when wealthy English Lords would give their servants the day after Christmas off as a holiday. They would also give them a box with leftover food or even a present on this day.

The day is likely a combination of these traditions and others. Either way, Boxing Day has been around for hundreds of years and is a national holiday in England and other countries.

Fun Facts About Boxing Day

  • It used to be considered unlucky to kill a wren bird on any day but Boxing Day. The hunting of wrens was a popular Boxing Day event in England many years ago.
  • The Feast of St. Stephen takes place on the 26th. St. Stephen was stoned to death for preaching about Jesus. As he was dying he prayed that God would forgive his murderers.
  • Premier League football in the United Kingdom has a full day of games on Boxing Day. Many people love to spend the day watching football (soccer). Other sporting events such as horseracing, hockey, and rugby are also popular on this day.
  • In Ireland the 26th is generally called St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren.
  • A Christmas box was sometimes placed on ships during the Age of Exploration. The sailors would put money in the box for good luck, then the box would be given to a priest who would open it at Christmas and give the money to the poor.
  • In South Africa the holiday was renamed to the Day of Goodwill in 1994.

Kwanzaa - December 26-January 1

Kwanzaa is a celebration of African-American culture and heritage. It lasts seven days from December 26th to January 1st. The holiday is mostly celebrated by African-Americans in the United States.

What do people do to celebrate?

  • Kwanzaa is celebrated by ceremonies throughout the week. Many people celebrate by decorating their home in African art as well as the traditional Kwanzaa colors of green, black, and red. They may also wear traditional African clothing. Women may wear a colorful wrap called a kaftan. Men may wear a colorful shirt called a dashiki and a hat called a kufi.
  • On the last day of Kwanzaa, families often gather for a large feast called karamu. Sometimes karamu is celebrated at a local church or community center. Here they enjoy traditional African dishes.

History of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa was created by Dr. Maulana Korenga in 1966. The name Kwanzaa comes from a Swahili phrase that means "first fruits of the harvest". Initially the holiday was meant as an alternative to Christmas, but later it was said to be in addition to other religious holidays such as Christmas.

There are seven symbols that people gather for the ceremonies. They include:

Unity cup

The candle holder which holds seven candles

The seven candles

Fruits, nuts, and vegetables

Ears of corn


A mat to set the above on

Seven Principals of Kwanzaa

There are seven main principals, one for each day of the celebration:

  • Umoja - Unity: To remain united in the community
  • Kujichagulia - Self-Determination: To be responsible for yourself and your community
  • Ujima - Collective Work and Responsibility: To work together
  • Ujamaa - Cooperative Economics: To create African-American owned businesses
  • Nia - Purpose: To build and develop the community
  • Kuumba - Creativity: To improve our community and make it more beautiful
  • Imani - Faith: To believe that the world can become a better place

Fun Facts About Kwanzaa

  • Many people of African heritage in Canada also celebrate this holiday.
  • Each of the candles represents a different principle.
  • The candles are different colors; black, green, or red. There is one black candle which stands for unity. There are three green candles which represent the future and three red candles which represent the struggle out of slavery.
  • It is not considered a religious holiday.
  • The first US postage stamp commemorating Kwanzaa was issued in 1997.
  • Some people combine aspects of Kwanzaa and Christmas together today in order to celebrate their race as well as their religion.