Here is a round up of ten activities you can incorporate into your 3-5 grade classroom to celebrate and learn more about Black History Month this February. This is a great resource list, so be sure to bookmark this page as you prep your black history month activities.
1. Introduce black history month activities with a video
This short clip from PBS is a perfect way to jump-start your month and introduce your students to the topic. It’s to the point and can start getting your students interested in learning more. It might jump-start your own creativity for projects and activities to do this month!
2. Create a timeline
After discussing with your students the definitions of “civil rights” and “social movements” you can have students create a timeline that you’ll be able to display on a bulletin or around your room. This is a great opportunity to introduce research to your students. Each student or group can look up information for a specific event, and then share their findings with the class. At the end of the project, you’ll have a beautiful visual to display.
3. Teach persuasion
If you haven’t heard of accountability talk stems, this is a great time to read up on them. It’s a good segway to teaching persuasion to your students. They are never too young to learn how to communicate better with peers. You could have students choose who they think is the most influential civil rights leader, which inventor was the greatest, or whose life experiences has the biggest impact on future generations. Younger students can work in groups and come up with evidence together, or your older students might enjoy working independently. I have some cute desktop anchor charts to get you started with accountability stem talks. You can find them here.
4. Make a stamp
Did you know that the USPS website has criteria for selecting stamps and the process for stamp proposals? Have your students participate by helping them follow the selection process, focusing their design on what they learn from Black History Month. Be sure to let your students know that the chance of being selected is small, but it is a great project and gets students involved with real-life scenarios.
5. Writing prompts
There are some really great writing prompts here from a fourth grade teacher, Perry Hollins. It’s a great way to introduce students to innovators past and present and tie the experiences to their own lives. Each prompt has students explore the life of a Black innovator, reflect on a quote from that person, then get started on the prompt.
6. Create black history month yearbook
Combine social studies and language arts with this fun activity. As students read these informational passages, they will work on reading comprehension and summarizing skills. They can then combine their summaries to create a history yearbook. I love this activity during February as part of my Black History Month lessons, but its also a great year-round activity if you are working on biographies or studying historical figures.
7. Explore inventors
Another great video to consider is this Black Scientists and Inventors animated video. It’s a little bit lengthier than a quick-clip, so consider making it an assignment where students can go further in depth about their favorite scientist, or decide which invention is the most important to their world. It makes a great pairing to some of these other activities like persuasion topics or ideas for creating stamp images.
8. Focus on art
A lot of these options focus on writing components – but you can also focus on art! In addition to looking up biographies and working on summarizing skills on Black artists, you can have students mimic the art they studied and present to the class. Or, you can lead your students through one of the many art projects found here on Art Projects for Kids that focus on Black History Month.
9. Stock your library
Whether you make it part of an assignment, or part of your choice-reading selections, it never hurts to stock up on new books that coincide with what your students are learning. See if you can borrow from your librarian and keep a shelf of books for the month, or plan a special library day where you work with your librarian to put together a display for students to explore on their own. Alternatively, talk to your local public library to see if they have resources, videos, or books to borrow for an extended time during the month of February. Also, it never hurts to ask if they have any books on-topic they are wanting to “retire” – it’s a great way to pick up some freebies or super cheap books to add to your library.
If you’re looking for a list to get you started, here are some titles to consider:
- Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans by Kadir Nelson
- Who Was Rosa Parks? By Yona Zeldis McDonough
- What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld
- The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano adapted by Ann Cameron
10. Create a game
Games are a great way to bring some fun to your classroom and sneak in learning at the same time. After reviewing biographies with a project or assignment, have students play a version of Guess Who? You could make Bingo cards for younger students and represent the people on their cards by their inventions or accolades. Really any game can be used: Bingo, Pictionary, Wheel of Fortune, Around the World, or Kahoot.
Here are a couple of blog posts you may enjoy: