Holidays Month in Genius Words: Meet Artist Synthia Saint James and Illustrate Your Own Postage Stamp

November 16, 2021 / DIY & Printable

Genius content refreshes every month! This December, dive into the world of winter holidays—Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa—and the geniuses who’ve helped us celebrate them.

We’ve compiled limited-time game updates, real-life genius stories, and educator-approved activities into interactive printables, designed to enhance your little kids learning. Access this week’s printable by clicking the button below:

Game Update

In Osmo Words, find your way through an epic dance party at the Holidays Museum, spelling festive celebratory objects as you go. Only available this month!

Genius Spotlight: Synthia Saint James

Did you know you probably get art delivered right to your mailbox every day? Yep, we’re talking about postage stamps!

A lot goes into the design and production of these tiny, sticky masterpieces. And, as symbols of our nation, they carry a lot of meaning, too.

In 1997, the United States Postal Service was looking for an artist to design its first Kwanzaa stamp. After seeing the cover of the children’s book “The Seven Days of Kwanzaa,” they reached out to its illustrator, Synthia Saint James.

Synthia was a longtime visual artist and author, but she had never created art like this before. The USPS needed her design to be only 4.5″x5.5″, so it could be shrunk to stamp size easily.

Using her signature vibrant colors, Synthia managed to fit all seven symbols of Kwanzaa into her picture: the seven candles, candle holder, unity cup, placemat, crops, corn, and gifts. 318 million stamps were printed using this design!

In 2016, Synthia was asked to create another Kwanzaa stamp. She is celebrated for showcasing the joys of Kwanzaa and African-American culture to the entire United States. That’s a big accomplishment for such a tiny piece of art!

Real-World Activity: Illustrate Your Own Postage Stamp

Try this educator-approved activity at home. This week’s printable (button above) has instructions with photos!

Create an image that pays tribute to the holiday(s) you celebrate this time of year, like Synthia did for Kwanzaa. Use the outlines here and whatever drawing tools you want. 

Just make sure your artwork includes the following, which the Postal Service puts on every stamp!

  • USA
  • Forever
  • The current year (2021)