February is Black History Month. With everything going on in our classrooms (parent/teacher conferences, Valentine’s Day, 100th day of school, President’s Day, and COVID, to name a few), it can sometimes be overlooked or not given the time due. While Black History should be studied throughout the school year, February is the month it zooms into focus. The month that we take a moment to honor the black men and women who have brought so much value into our lives. With that said, consider weaving in these Black History Month activities both during February and the school year.
Getting Students Information
Students need to learn about various Black Americans that have been influential throughout history (and even currently!). The same Black Americans are often discussed repeatedly, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, and Ruby Bridges. When we do this, we are reinforcing broken mindsets. You can read about these broken mindsets and the importance of Black History Month here on The Butterfly Teacher’s Blog.
Help your students branch out and learn about Black Americans in various categories such as artists, political activists, inventors, spiritual leaders, business people, writers, musicians, athletes, and entertainers.
Biographies are a great place to find information about Black Americans. Sandy over at Sweet Integrations shares how she teaches biography elements using various books in different formats. One book she uses is Dave the Potter. It’s a biography about how Dave was a slave that created beautiful, artistic pottery. To learn more about this remarkable book and her way of using it to teach about biographies, click here.
If you’re looking for some easy-to-print biographies on remarkable Black Americans throughout history, check out these TpT Resources:
- The Butterfly Teacher’s Black History Month Biographies
- Delightful Design’s Black History Month Digital Bundle
Use Picture Books and Chapter Books
There are many books related to Black Americans’ achievements that you can bring into your classroom. Picture books are a great way to present historical facts both accurately and in an engaging manner. From Sparkling in Second, Jen has a post featuring over 30 books that your students would love during Black History Month! Head here to check out the books she suggests!
As for chapter books, one series that comes to mind immediately is the Who Was/Who Is series. These books contain biographies on Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, The Underground Railroad, and so much more. You can read about other chapter books for Black History Month here.
Use 28 Days
The book, 28 Days, features a different influential Black American each day during February. It’s a quick page to read each day and a brief way to introduce stellar Black Americans and events related to them.
Black History Month Activities for Your Students
#1 – Class Timeline
Group your students and then assign each group with an important period of Black History. For instance,
- Slavery in America
- Civil War and Reconstruction
- Great Migration
- Harlem Renaissance
- Jim Crow Segregation Era
- Civil Rights Movement
- Post-Civil Rights Movement
- Current/Modern Times
Have the students in those groups research the major events and Black Americans to present to the class. Then provide each group with a large piece of butcher paper or chart paper. Have them write the name of their period along the top with the dates. In their report, they will present images and important “snapshot” events that occurred. Once the entire class has finished, place the papers side-by-side to create a class timeline.
#2 – Student Interviews
After your students have studied various Black Americans, have them create an interview with that individual. This can be done in the format of a news article, a magazine article, or anything. Have students write down questions they would ask, along with the answers he or she would say. Some questions should involve the achievements of that American and his or her’s impact.
#3 – Create an ABC Book
First, read The ABCs of Black History picture book to your students. Conclude by having students create an ABC book similar to the picture book. Students can use Black Americans for the letters or events. Have them illustrate the text and add information they learned.
#4 – Create a Museum Walk
Have students research a specific person from Black History and prepare to give a presentation. This presentation can be in the form of creating posters and hanging them around the room, or a little more involved, like a wax museum activity. If desired, have students dress up as the individual.
#5 – Use Mystery Puzzles with Trivia Facts
All students love puzzles, and trivia can be just as fun. Nesli, from the Teacher wears Prada, likes to tie academics, puzzles, and trivia together. She provides her students with puzzles that involve solving a math problem, and as they work through the problems, they put together a mystery fact. She also likes to do this with sentence building! You learn more about this engaging Black History Month activity by clicking here or on the picture below. You can also have your students create their own mystery puzzles using facts they have learned throughout the unit.
#6 – Create Themed Squares for a Quilt
After studying Black History, provide each student with a square for a quilt. Inside the square, having them include important facts about their Black American, the contributions he or she did, when he or she was around, and other important information. When everyone has finished, connect the squares to create a large themed quilt. For a digital version of making a Black History Quilt, check out this Memory Quilt by the Tech Chick.
#7 – Have a Talent Show
Create groups of students based on the categories mentioned before (artists, inventors, etc.). Assign each student a Black American from within that group. For instance, in the Athletes group, you would assign someone Wilma Rudolph, and another person in the group would be given, Jesse Owens. Have students work together to decide how they will demonstrate each individual’s “talents” as a group.
#8 – Bring Awareness Activities
As you discuss the deeper issues of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, have students bring awareness to what still needs to be done. This can be done through Black History Month activities of having students plan social media campaigns, creating infographics with facts, writing a letter to an editor that uses influential Black American quotes, conducting surveys, and/or making a public service announcement.
#9 – Create Black Hero Puzzles
Provide each student with the puzzle pieces of this Black Hero Puzzle. After they have researched their Black American Hero, have them illustrate the individual in the center, add his or her accomplishments, add some fun facts and a little color- and you have a cute display!
#10 – Have Students Create a Brochure
Have students put together a trifold brochure with all the important events, accomplishments, and so much more. Dr. Loftin’s Learning Emporium has a free brochure on Michelle Obama that students could reference. Click here to download that freebie.
Black History Month is so important in our world today. It’s important to go beyond just reading passages about these legendary heroes and move into meaningful activities, discussions, and reflections. It’s my hope that something in this post was helpful to get you started!
Happy Black History Month!