While February is Black History Month, it’s important that teachers consider including activities highlighting the contributions of Black Americans in lessons throughout the year. There are many rich and emotional activities that can be easily implemented in the classroom. Most activities can be adapted for students of any age.
ThinkFives has compiled some of the best activities we found and provided additional resources below that can be used in your classes.
Create a Black History Month Bulletin Board
Students love decorating bulletin boards. You can create a full class activity by having the students work together to decorate the board.
Ideas can include a bulletin board of impactful black leaders with the children compiling a list of 20 African Americans that have made a difference. Introduce the purpose of celebrating Black History month and include black leaders in your display.
Or create a board that incorporates some of the other activities on this list: a timeline, names of great books to read or pictures from the life of Martin Luther King.
Create a Timeline
Students can create individual timelines or one on a bulletin board. Elementary students can include some of the most important events in Black history in a simple but colorful layout.
Older students can highlight more difficult historical events with pictures of key individuals and places where the events took place. Teachers can combine the creation of timelines with discussions about the challenges the civil rights and social movements faced.
If created individually, your students should cut out each event, place them in chronological order and glue, paste, or tape them to a board. Encourage them to share their findings with the class.
Read About History
Educators recommend that older students spend at least 20 minutes a day reading. Celebrate Black History Month by having your student read a book that features African American culture, shares the story of a great African American figure, or brings the African American experience to life. For inspiration, here are 6 terrific books for students in elementary school.
Suggestions for younger students
- Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison
- Rosa Parks (Volume 9) (Little People, BIG DREAMS, 9) by Lisbeth Kaiser
- The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
Suggestions for middle school students
- Pies from Nowhere (Montgomery Bus Boycott) by Dee Romito
- The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander
- Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? By Sherri L. Smith
Virtually Visit a Museum
Many museums provide virtual tours for students and classes. The National Museum of African American History and Culture is part of the Smithsonian Institute and is devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture.
They have a wealth of online learning resources to help you enrich your student’s learning experience, including recommended reading resources for elementary, middle, and high school students and Smithsonian Learning Labs, which are free, interactive lessons where students can explore both well-known and not so well-known moments in history.
Another option is Whitney Plantation Museum. It is the only museum in Louisiana with an exclusive focus on the lives of enslaved people. Students can witness the realities of slavery and reconciliation first-hand at the nation’s first slavery museum. The museum’s incredible online lesson plans teach students about what life was really like in antebellum America.
Remember Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s stirring speech is well-known to adults, but never forget how important it is to introduce his words to our younger generation.
Teachers can create a Dream Cloud with their students after hearing his speech.
For elementary grades, students are given a piece of paper to brainstorm a list of things that they wish to have in the world. It can be a dream for the future, for their family, for their friends, or even personal possessions.
Students can be creative in both how they draw their clouds and how they decide what to dream. They can also dream of world problems that can help many people.
This activity can be adopted for students as young as kindergarten if the teacher reads stories to class and asks the students to draw what they heard.
What is your favorite Black History activity?