Activities & Lessons

14 Fun Black History Month Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students

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Fun Black History Month Activities For Kids 2

Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, takes place every February to honor the accomplishments of Black people in the United States and the important roles they have played in the past and the present. We've designed activities that give students the opportunity to dive into history and learn about the people and events that have shaped our nation.

Black History Month Ideas for School

Encourage students to engage in crafts, teach them about significant figures in Black history, and celebrate with your class using these Black History Month activities for elementary and middle school.

1. Review the Timeline of the Civil Rights Movement

As the civil rights movement progressed over several decades, many key events helped to shape the outcome. For this activity, you should first hold a discussion with your students about the definitions of civil rights and social movements.

Explain that civil rights are written and unwritten rights provided to anyone who is a U.S. citizen or who belongs to a civil society. A movement includes activities undertaken by a group of people to achieve change. Then, distribute the timeline activity and have your students fill in details about nine key events of the civil rights movement based on their research. Once complete, your students should cut out each event; place them in chronological order; and glue, paste, or tape them to a piece of paper. Encourage them to add a title to their timeline before sharing it with the class.

2. Pen a Persuasive Essay

Many Black people have made valuable contributions to the world throughout history. Have students write a persuasive essay convincing the U.S. Postal Service to create a new stamp honoring an influential Black person. They should explain their choice and the impact the person has had on the world.

Maybe they want to focus on the historic election of Kamala Harris as U.S. Vice President, Katherine Johnson's contribution to science and space exploration, or Stevie Wonder's legacy in music. Have students read their essays to one another or submit them for extra credit. Here are steps to teaching students how to write an effective persuasive argument.

This is also an opportunity to have students participate in their government! The U.S. Postal Service welcomes suggestions for stamp subjects that "celebrate the American experience." Check out the USPS website for the criteria for selecting a stamp subject and the process for submitting a proposal. 

3. Write about Black History

With these Black History Month writing prompts from fourth-grade teacher Perry Hollins, you can introduce your students to Black innovators of the past and present. Your students can then tie these figures' experiences to their own lives. For each prompt, students explore the life of a Black innovator, reflect on a quote from the individual, and then tackle a writing prompt. The prompts each focus on a particular writing style, such as narrative, informative, or persuasive.

4. Do a Crossword Puzzle on Civil Rights

Have your students test their knowledge of Black history with this downloadable crossword puzzle, including an answer key for teachers. Topics covered include slavery in the United States, civil rights protests, key figures, and relevant holidays. This is particularly well suited for students in Grades 4–8.

5. Create an Encyclopedia of Black Leaders

Students can create a biographical encyclopedia with one or two paragraphs each about Black leaders who contributed to the civil rights movement. Alternatively, students can focus on any Black leader in the U.S. throughout history. They can choose three to five leaders whom they feel had the greatest impact on U.S. history and explain why those individuals' accomplishments deserve to be recognized.

Then, students can dive into the role that each figure played in history, what events they influenced, and their legacy. This is a good chance to teach students about finding credible sources online, creating a bibliography, and improving their writing. Your students can exchange their final Black History Month projects and provide peer feedback, or share them with the entire class.

6. Explore Famous Black Scientists in History

If you're looking to explore famous Black scientists in history, you can download these posters, hang them in your classroom or distribute them to your students. This activity can take a lot of different forms. You may simply have a classroom discussion about the legacies of each of these scientists, or you can encourage your students to dig further and create their own list of famous Black scientists. Students might even focus on influential Black innovators in specific scientific fields, such as chemistry or mathematics. Your students can write about these individuals' lives, accomplishments, and continued legacy today, and perhaps create their own posters to hang on a bulletin board.

7. Conduct Experiments Inspired by the Works of Black Scientists 

Get hands on and further explore the extraordinary works of famous Black scientists, inventors, and mathematicians by conducting experiments inspired by their work. Find a collection of Black History Month science activities and experiments that touch on earth and space sciences, agriculture, biology, and more, so students can study space like Dr. Mae Jemison, or nurture plants like George Washington Carver.

8. Test Students' Knowledge with Our Black History Month Quiz

Have students explore Black history with this short multiple choice quiz. A teacher answer key is also included. You can have students hand this in for a grade, or have them work in teams and see which group answers the most questions correctly.

9. Complete a Word Search 

Download this word search for students that includes the names of influential figures, key events, and terms related to Black history. Once students find all the words listed, have them write a short description or definition of each term. The specifics are up to you as to what they need to include in their writing.

10. Read Books about Black History

There are many books you can read about Black history that highlight both the triumphant and tragic journeys of Black people in the United States. One example is The Undefeated, written by poet Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson. The book won the 2020 Caldecott Medal and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award. Alexander won a Newbery Honor for the book as well. The beautifully crafted book of poetry doesn't hold back on illustrating the cruelties Africans faced on their journey to and arrival in the U.S., but it's presented in a way that's easy for kids to digest and understand. The book showcases themes such as determination, self-actualization, and perseverance, and covers the horrors of slavery, the triumphs of the civil rights movement, and the actions of influential Black figures.

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If you're looking to teach students about the impact of the Chicago Race Riots on history, consider these two literary texts recommended by HMH's archivist, Susan Steinway.

11. Showcase Black History in Your School’s Halls

Work with your school’s leadership team to organize a school-wide Black History Month door decorating or bulletin board decorating contest. Each class can showcase significant moments, figures, and accomplishments in Black history, for example the Harlem Renaissance, the Tuskegee Airmen, or the work of the Freedom Riders. Find inspiration for Black History Month bulletin board ideas and Black History Month classroom door decoration ideas on Shaped.

12. Create a Quote Gallery with Words from Notable Black Figures

Display quotes from notable Black figures in your classroom and engage students in a quote gallery walk. On chart paper, write or print quotes from famous Black leaders or notable figures. Use these Black History Month quotes for students for the gallery walk. Alongside the quote, include the person’s name, title, and brief biography. Post the quotes around the room. Place students in small groups and have them explore each quote. As groups stop at a quote, ask students to discuss with each other what the quote means to them. Then have them use a marker to jot down their thoughts and reflections on the chart paper. Afterwards, lead a class discussion about the powerful words the class just read. Extend this activity by having students choose their favorite quote displayed and complete a quote discussion chart.

13. Host a Poetry Reading and Recite Poems from Black Poets

Study the works of famous Black poets, like Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes, and teach students the art of performing poetry by hosting a class poetry reading. Show students videos of Black poets reciting their works, so students can learn about the change of tone, inflection, and body language when poems are read aloud. Then have students choose a poem penned by a Black author that they will share during the class poetry reading. Give students the time to practice reciting their poems aloud in small groups. On the day of the event, you can convert your classroom into a poetry café. If possible, invite caregivers or guardians to watch the performances. After their reading, students can share fun facts about the poet, why they chose the poem they did, and what resonated with them.

14. Transform Your Classroom into a Black History Museum

Bring the museum into your classroom with this Black History Month activity. Ask students to research notable Black figures or key events in Black history. Students will then create posters based on their research. Display students’ work throughout the classroom, organizing the posters into exhibits, such as science, history, art, and literature, to transform your classroom into a Black history museum. If possible, chose a date and invite other classes and guardians or caregivers to a museum showing of your class’s Black history exhibits. Students can present the information on their posters to guests as museum guides and educators.

Share Your Black History Month Projects and Activities

Have any fun Black History Month activity ideas for school? Share them with us at

We hope these Black history month activities for elementary and middle school students provide you with plenty of ideas for honoring the achievements of Black people and shed light on the triumphs and tragedies that they have faced in the United States. By doing so, we can create a world that prioritizes equality and freedom for all.

For more ways to celebrate Black History Month with your students, check out:

Discover more lesson plans and classroom resources on Shaped.


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This blog, originally published in 2020, has been updated for 2024.

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