Juneteenth Class Activities for Middle and Elementary School Students
Let your middle school students explore Juneteenth through writing. These three prompts will allow them to develop persuasive, research, and creative writing skills while discovering more about the holiday.
1. Persuasive Writing
People worldwide honor Juneteenth in various ways. Juneteenth.com gives insight into traditions, festivals, ceremonies, and other events that recognize the holiday. Have your students research the different ways people celebrate Juneteenth. Afterward, have them write a persuasive paragraph convincing their school or community to create an event that honors the holiday.
2. Research Writing
According to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), “By the end of the Civil War, roughly 179,000 Black men (10% of the Union Army) served as soldiers in the U.S. Army, and another 19,000 served in the Navy.” In fact, once the Emancipation Proclamation took effect, many Black soldiers had a hand in spreading the news of freedom. Black women who could not join the army found other ways to serve as nurses or scouts (with Harriet Tubman being one of the most known spies of the Civil War).
Let your students research Black men and women who served in some aspect during the Civil War. They can focus on one historical figure or even a Black military unit, and afterward, prepare a brief report on their findings that they will later present to the class.
Here are questions to get them thinking when writing their reports:
- Despite not serving in the Union Army, what crucial role did Black women have during the Civil War? Though women can serve in the military today, what challenges do they face?
of all Black troops consisted of formerly enslaved people. How were Black soldiers treated in the U.S. military? What discrimination did they face, and what strives were taken to ensure they would be treated fairly? How did the Confederate army treat Black captives?
Finally, here is a list of potential figures or groups to get you started:
3. Creative Writing
Get your students’ creative juices following by having them write a short story, poem, or rap using the following writing prompt as a guideline: Why is it important that we celebrate Juneteenth today?