February is Black History Month and it's full of learning opportunities for parents of young children. Children who are in school are probably already getting a lot of information, but there are many things parents can do at home to reinforce the learning.

First, of course, parents need to be aware of what Black History Month is. It started in 1976, so many parents today actually went to school and learned about it themselves. It's observed both in Canada and the US and generally celebrates and educates about African American history. The fact is, although blacks have been in the US since colonial times, it wasn't until recently that history books even included their contributions and history.

The more our children know about this, the better (and the less likely that we will have to celebrate a separate history month in the future). For now, there are many ways parents can educate our children about the month. Here are eight:

  • Coloring pages: It may not seem like much, but for a 5-year-old like my daughter, there is much to be learned from the simple act of taking a colored pen to paper. There are many pages here and here and here. Print them out, talk about who each person is, and let your child guide how she uses them.
  • Doing crafts: For younger children, art is a great way to incorporate lessons of diversity and friendship. There are many crafts that they can do for Black History Month. They can create "Freedom Friend" puppets or make a glittering Freedom Bell. There are plenty of crafts parents can invent to impart these lessons.
  • Attending events: There are events around the country celebrating this month. Here are some in Florida. Here are others in Detroit. Google your area and see what you can find locally. There are bound to be a couple that you can attend with children and children learn best through experience.
  • Playing games: Make a bingo game with famous African Americans in history. Print the photos out from the computer and learn about each person while you create the boards. This is an involved project, but could also be a huge learning experience for kids and also a really good time. It's a win-win!  Another game is Mancala, which is an African game that is easy to make and can also teach kids better math skills.
  • Taking quizzes: Quizzes are not always fun, but with prizes and rewards, they can become so. With older children, testing knowledge is a great way to build skills and parents can turn it into a game.
  • Puzzles: Younger children might enjoy putting together puzzles of famous African Americans in history. There are puzzles of the Buffalo Soldiers of the Civil War era, Elijah McCoy, the engineer who suffered from racism but revolutionized the locomotive, and more.
  • Talk about racism: Even the youngest children can benefit from questions and answers about racism in the US. Bringing up open-minded children sometimes means talking early on about the issues that may seem difficult to broach with your child. This is a great reason to start the discussion.

How will you celebrate with your kids?