Rosa Parks. Martin Luther King, Jr. Ruby Bridges. Sojourner Truth. The struggles and successes of so many great African Americans provide rich learning material for activities, discussions, crafts, and projects. Engage your students with meaningful content while they strengthen important skills such as close reading, researching, note-taking, public speaking, and so much more.

Black History Month in Focus

Famous African Americans Vocabulary Cards

“While February provides an amazing opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge people of color,” says The Tutu Teacher, “I try to integrate the achievement of many men and women of color throughout the school year. One way to keep my students aware of people who have made a difference in our world, is to provide pictures and vocabulary cards of Famous African Americans at my writing center. The cards stay up all month long and a reference page stays at the center all year long. Here are my Famous African American Vocabulary cards (grades PreK-2).”

Kayse Morris says, “My Ruby Bridges, George Washington Carver, Jackie Robinson, and Sojourner Truth!!! (grades PreK-5) resource is my favorite Black History Month piece because it engages students, uses cross curriculum strategies with every lesson, and students analyze four influential African American heroes!”

Black History MonthFrom FirstGradeFunTimes: “During the month of February, we talk about accomplishments of many African Americans, and I always try to get some of my students’ parents to come in and share their own family history if they’re willing. My Black History Month resource (grade 1), which focuses on Ruby Bridges, has a printable reader in several forms with a few different writing activities to go along with it. Since Ruby Bridges is still alive, we write letters to her using the template included and send them to her via the address included on her official website. The kids always get a kick out of the fact that she is still alive, yet made such an impact on public education.”

“My favorite item for Black History Month is my Martin Luther King Jr research project (grades 1-3),” says Kelly’s Classroom. “It’s great for younger students who are learning how to read and take notes. Students are given specific questions to research and small pages to jot down the details. When they’re finished, they can bind the pages up and make their own mini-books to take home.”

Funky Fresh Firsties says, “My Famous African Americans BUNDLE {16 Figures} resource (grades 1-3) is by far my favorite resource from my store to use for Black History Month. Sixteen famous African Americans are covered — with reading passages, comprehension questions, graphic organizers, coloring book pages, and mini-foldable books on each figure! Learning about famous African Americans in history should be fun and engaging… this pack helps make content easier to cover not only in February, but all school year as well!”

Adapted Books with WH Questions: Black History BUNDLE {Autism & Special Ed}“I recently put together Adapted Books with WH Questions: Black History BUNDLE {Autism & Special Ed} (grades 1-5),” explains Adapting for Autism. “It includes Barack Obama, Martin Luther King Jr., and other famous African Americans. I created it because social studies are often overlooked in special education in order to spend more time on IEP goals or functional skills. These books target WH questions and make Black History Month accessible for students with disabilities.”

Ashleigh says, “I love my Black History – Close Reading resource (grades 3-6). It makes differentiation easy, and perfectly integrates social studies and language arts!”

From Jason’s Online Classroom: “Our Black History Month resource (grades 3-6) features four different games plus worksheets to learn about important figures, both past and present. The feedback that we’ve received often speaks about how engaged the students are when playing, which is a great sign of learning. Here’s an example: ‘This was a fun unit. My students enjoyed learning about all the people included and even months afterwards, they still remember many details about these wonderful people.'”

Character Building Calendar Cards and Posters“It’s the character and values of famous African Americans that we study during February,” explains Rainbow City Learning. “I like to make sure that students are developing their character in similar ways throughout the school year. The categories that I selected are: personal development, relationship building, collaboration, and community service. I love to refer to my Character Building Calendar Cards and Posters (grades 3-6) each day during Morning Meeting to be sure that my students are living the values of the heroes that we highlight during Black History Month.”

Terry’s Teaching Tidbits says, “With my African American Biography Project (grades 4-6), students research and write a biography about a famous African American. It’s a great way for students to spend more time really researching information throughout the month in order to learn more in depth about a specific person. A fun idea is to have students present their biographies so other students can learn from each other.”

“My Martin Luther King, Jr. FREEBIE  (grades 4-7) practices close reading skills and incorporates timelines and cause & effect relationships,” says Fifth in the Middle. “There’s also an opinion writing piece. The text is fairly short and interactive, so upper elementary students are engaged in learning about this influential figure from American history.”

Skool Aid Products says, “My Matthew Henson PowerPoint Presentation. Co-discoverer of the North Pole resource (grades 4-8) introduces students to Matthew Henson. Without his courage, determination, and perseverance, the expedition to reach the North Pole by Admiral Peary would not have been successful. This presentation gives students the academic vocabulary and concepts needed to delve into texts and stories about dog-sledding and Arctic exploration.”

Jazz Musicians BUNDLEFrom The Bulletin Board Lady-Tracy King: “Can you name three or four legendary jazz musicians? My Jazz Musicians BUNDLE bulletin board set (grades 4-12) introduces students to 16 legendary jazz musicians. It also comes with research pages, which guide students to create a thumbnail sketch of the musicians.”

“Throughout the year, I’ll quiz students using my Who Am I: The Black History Edition (Classroom Trivia and Review Flash Cards) (grades 4-12),” says Mr Educator – A Social Studies Professional. “I try to have students guess the influential person by using the facts provided about that person’s life or experiences. It’s always a hit, and students learn something new about some of the most influential African-American actors, politicians, writers, musicians, or scientists.”

Brynn Allison says, “My Nonfiction Close Reading – Power of Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech resource (grades 9-12), which focuses on the lasting power of Dr. King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, can be used in either an ELA or social studies class. The close reading compares MLK’s speech to an article from The New York Times. The 10 text-based questions cover all 10 of the informational CCSS; five after-reading activities are included as well.”

“Anytime I can, I try to bring in texts and topics that students might recognize from popular culture,” explains Julie Faulkner. “Compare/Contrast is a hot topic right now with the new Common Core testing requirements. My Martin Luther King, Jr. Nonfiction Essay w/Paired Music Lesson w/Creative Prompt resource (grades 9-12) touches not only on the topic of racial injustice, but also how education plays a role in combating it. This a very moving and thought-provoking task! It would be an excellent lesson to spark a conversation on Black History Month in a secondary ELA class.”

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“I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free… so other people would be also free.” – Rosa Parks

(Feature image: Thanks to Charlotte’s Clips for the images and Wizard of Boz for the Cooper Card Shark font.)

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