Black History Month, also known as African American History Month, takes place every February to honor the accomplishments of African Americans in the United States and the important roles they have played throughout history.
This is also a great opportunity to dive into history in your classrooms. Whether you want to encourage students to engage in crafts or simply teach them about significant figures in African American history, you can use the Black History Month classroom activities below to celebrate with your students.
Black History Month Activities for Elementary and Middle School Students
1. Cut-and-Paste Timeline
The civil rights movement took several decades to achieve its goal: equal rights for African Americans. Along the way, several 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 this worksheet and have your students fill in details about nine key events of the civil rights movement based on outside 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; and then share their findings with the class. Encourage them to add a colorful title to their timeline.
2. Persuasive Letter: Writing Activity
Many African Americans have made valuable contributions to the world. Have students write a persuasive essay to convince the United States Postal Service to create a new stamp depicting a famous African American. This could be a good opportunity to teach your students about how to properly format a letter, focus on persuasive writing, and explore paragraph and essay structure. Students should explain why they chose that individual and the impact that person has had on the world, convincing the Postal Service about why his or her achievements are notable.
3. Crossword Puzzle on Civil Rights
Have your students test their knowledge of African American history (and have some fun in the process) with this downloadable crossword puzzle, answer key for teachers included. 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.
4. Dictionary of African American Leaders
Students can create a biographical dictionary with one or two paragraphs each (with pictures) about African American leaders who contributed to the civil rights movement. They can choose three to five leaders of the movement whom they feel had the greatest impact on civil rights and explain why those individuals' accomplishments deserve to be recognized. Then, they can dive into the role that each of them played in the movement in the United States, 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 projects and provide peer feedback.
5. Black History Month Challenge Quiz
Have students explore African American 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.
6. Word Search and Definitions
Download this word search for students that includes terms related to African American history. Once students find all the words listed, have them define each term. The specifics are up to you as to what they need to include in their definitions—consider a short paragraph about each as a homework assignment or extra credit project in February.
Share Your Black History Month Lesson Plans and Activities
Have any other Black History Month ideas for school? Share them with us on Twitter (@LeadAndLearn) or email us at Shaped@hmhco.com.
Hopefully, these fun Black History Month activities for kids can help you add a fun element to your curriculum as you honor the achievements of African Americans and shed light on the triumphs and tragedies that this population has 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:
- 4 Teaching Tools to Honor Black History Month in the Classroom
- Black History Month: Teaching Historical Triumphs and Tragedies
- Ann Petry: Honoring the Author's Legacy During Black History Month
- A Rosa Parks Lesson Plan: Teaching About Her Legacy
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