By Teachers, For Teachers
Explore the life and contributions of Rosa Parks with activities that teach her biography, her fight for civil rights, and the boycott that changed the world.
Getting to Know Rosa Parks
Introduce your students to Rosa Parks by reading the book "I am Rosa Parks," by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins. Discuss how Parks refused to give up her seat and move to the back of a segregated bus, and how her courage contirbuted to the civil rights movement. Discuss how she grew up, and the factors that led to her refusal of giving up her seat. Show a brief educational video about her life and contributions to society. The video will help students visually connect with what they just read. Together as a class, discuss Parks's life story. Then, divide students into groups of two and have them use the information they just learned to fill out the graphic organizer "How Well Do You Know Rosa Parks?"
Rosa's Bus to Freedom
One Thursday evening in 1955, Rosa Parks boarded a bus after a long day at work and decided to sit in an "all-white" section. When she was asked to get up, she refused. This would end up being a life-changing decision that led to the end of segregation laws. In order for students to understand what the segregation laws were like in 1955, read "The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks," by Pamela Duncan Edwards. This story shows students that segregation wasn't just on buses; African Americans had to drink out of separate water fountains, sit on separate benches, and more. After the story, discuss and brainstorm how laws have changed since 1955.
Rosa Parks Reporter
Rosa Parks was a constant feature in the newspaper. For this activity, divide students into groups and have them become newspaper reporters! Assign each group to cover a specific subject. For example, Rosa Parks's childhood, the Montgomery bus boycott, the Civil Rights Movement, how Parks devoted her life to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and life after the boycott. Encourage students to use a stand-out headline and descriptive language. To give students an idea of what a well-written article looks like, show them actual newspaper articles from that time period. Visit The Montgomery Advertiser, where you can download and print the newspaper. Once students have gathered their information and written out their draft, have them create their final article using a newspaper template. Collect all of the articles to create one newspaper, and supply enough copies for each student to have.
Making a Difference
Rosa Parks made a difference in the world. Her bravery led to the bus boycott, the end of segregation, and a new era in the Civil Rights Movement. To honor Parks courage and heroism, have students write a statement telling how they feel about her and her accomplishments. Together as a class, brainstorm a list of possible statements. Ideas may include, "Rosa Parks was brave to not get up from her seat." Or "Rosa Parks is a hero because her courage led to the Civil Rights Movement." Then, have each student choose a statement and draw a detailed picture to accompany it. Display their final work outside the classroom and title it "How Rosa Parks Made a Difference."
Questions for Rosa
After learning the life and legacy of Rosa Parks, your students may still have a few unanswered questions. When Parks was alive she did a lot interviews. She was asked questions like," How did it feel to give up your seat?" and "Did you know that you were going to go to jail?" For this activity, have students brainstorm a list of questions they would ask Parks if she was still alive today. Then show students an interview of Rosa Parks and have them pay attention to see if their questions got answered. At the end of interview, make a list of the unanswered questions and have students research the answers.
This February 4th honor and celebrate the courage and heroism of Rosa Parks on her birthday. Enlighten students of her accomplishments and contributions to our world by having students participate in the above activities.
Do you have a great idea or activity that will help other teachers explore the achievements of Rosa Parks? Share it with us!