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Friday Five: 5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month

Janelle Cox

Friday Five: 5 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Your ClassroomFebruary is Black History Month. This is a time to honor, celebrate and teach our students the importance of African American history. Explore the many contributions of African Americans with activities about segregation, civil rights leaders and the contributions of African American heroes.

Segregation of Schools

Teach children about the desegregation of schools by reading "The School is Not White!" by Doreen Rappaport. Share President John F. Kennedy's quote "When Americans are sent to war, we do not ask for whites only. American students of any color should be able to attend any school." Then discuss what they think this quote means. Have students pretend they are the "Carters", and write a letter to the president explaining why it is important their child attends an all-white school.

The Courage of Rosa Parks

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Introduce students to Rosa Parks by reading "I am Rosa Parks" by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins. Discuss how Parks refused to give her seat up on the bus, and how her bravery brought on the civil rights movement. Visit Rosa Parks Bus to share the actual pictures of the bus Parks road on. Show a brief educational video that discusses the events of Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat on the bus. Together as a class, discuss how the laws have changed and brainstorm ways the world would be today if it wasn't for Rosa Parks' courage. Then have students use the information you discussed to fill in the worksheet about how the laws have changed.

African American Inventors

Discuss the impact that African American inventors had throughout history. Have students research the top 10 African American inventors on Scholastic.com. Then have them imagine what it would feel like if they were in the shoes of the inventors. Students can either type their ideas into a form on the website or write them on a graphic organizer.

Contributions of African American Heroes

Break students into pairs and assigns each group a famous African American hero to do a mini-research project on. Allow students to gather information from the internet, school library, or classroom.

Have students read and respond to the following prompts:

  • What was the childhood of the African American hero like?
  • Why is this person an important part of our history?

Have students present their findings to the class. Take the information the students learned and create a bulletin board titled, "The Contributions of African America Heroes."

The Road to Freedom

Introduce students to Harriet Tubman by reading "Freedom Train: The Story of Harriet Tubman" by Dorothy Sterling. Discuss how Tubman escaped slavery by a secret route called the "Underground Railroad." Divide students into pairs and pass out different copied pages of the book. Have students write a few facts they learned on post-it notes then present their findings to the class. Draw a train on the front board and have students sign and post their notes on the train after they present their findings. Tell students that each of their signature's represent their support for equality.

Do you have a great idea or activity that will help other teachers explore the achievements of African-Americans during Black History Month? Share it with us!