Black History Month, celebrated February of every year, is a fantastic opportunity to teach children about world history, social studies, and modern politics.
Specifically, the month looks to highlight African American achievements and recognize the central role African Americans have played in U.S. history. Today, schools, cultural institutions, communities, and even retailers plan dedicated events to observe, commemorate, and champion Black culture: past, present, and future.
The roots of Black History Month can be traced way back to the early 1900s, only 50 years after slavery was abolished in America. So with such a vast time-frame to cover, how do you design the best Black History Month syllabus for kids?
From musical exploration of Rhythm and Blues, to Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream…”, there are many important Black History lessons for kids to learn. Here’s how you can design a month of lesson plans, which bring Black History Month to life in the classroom…
What does Black History Month typically look like for school kids?
The most obvious place to celebrate Black History Month in schools would be in History lessons.
And whilst this is, of course, an important touchpoint, it’s only just scratching the surface of potential Black History classes for kids.
Black culture has shaped many elements of modern-day society, including the food we eat, the music we listen to, and the clothes we wear. As such, to really make Black History Month relevant and engaging, it’s well worth bringing Black History out of history class and celebrating it in other lessons too.
Another common trap many teachers fall into is dwelling too much on the negatives of Black History. Of course, slavery is incredibly important for kids to learn about. So too is the experience of immigrants coming through Ellis Island. But to allow these harrowing narratives to dominate in Black History Month is to do a disservice to both African Americans and school children alike.
Eras such as the Harlem Renaissance, when many African Americans moved to Harlem, are worth exploring for their evocative scenes and Jazz music! And the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black military aviators in the U.S. Army Air Corps, will inspire children of all ages, too.
Why is it important to teach kids about Black History?
There are many reasons why Black History Month should have a place in public or homeschool curriculum:
Black History Month shines a spotlight on a broad range of inspiring individuals
Not every kid grows up wanting to be the President of the United States, although some do.
Others want to be authors, artists, musicians, sports players, engineers, police officers or, indeed, teachers!
So whether the children you teach look up to Barack Obama or Beyonce, Maya Angelou, Serena and Venus Williams, or Michael Jordan, Black History Month provides the perfect opportunity to celebrate the lives and achievements of truly outstanding African Americans, across all genres of talent and ability.
Keep reading for our favorite worksheets, fact files, and learning resources to create lesson plans around truly inspiring Black lives.
A better understanding of Black History helps children understand their world today
Black history has shaped modern life in so many ways.
Did you know, for instance, that Lewis Latimer invented early air conditioning? That Charles Drew pioneered blood transfusions? Or that Lisa Gelobter, a female African American tech whizz helped develop gifs — something school kids of today would get a real kick out of playing with?
In this way, exploring Black History through the lens of groundbreaking inventions — and the impact it has had — teaches kids more about the lives they lead today.
Black History Month provides limitless opportunities for exciting, engaging lessons — across all subjects and learning styles
Hopefully by now you’ve come to realize that Black History Month shouldn’t be kept to history classes alone. But let’s pause for a moment and consider different learning styles.
How can a Black History Month curriculum be designed to work for kids with a range of visual, auditory, reading/writing, and kinesthetic needs?
It’s pretty easy, with a little creative thought!
For one, you could encourage energetic, kinesthetic learners to attempt to beat 11-time world champion, Usain Bolt’s, 9.58 second 100 meter sprint time! Remember, Bolt is the world’s fastest man, so if any of your kids even come close to meeting his time, you’d better call the Olympic Committee, and quick!
Where students are more comfortable with quiet reading or writing activities, why not set them the challenge of absorbing the most moving of Malcom X’s speeches: The Ballot or the Bullet?
Then, for artistic types, they can play around with creating their very own Faith Ringgold-style paintings, masks or children’s book illustrations.
But we know that teachers are very busy people. So to help make your Black History Month lesson plans as simple as possible to produce, here are our favorite worksheet bundles to use…
The best learning resources to teach Black History to kids
Whether you’re a math, science, art, or English teacher, there’s no shortage of Black History learning resources to lean on.
Black History worksheet for kids #1: Black History
This extensive bundle, with 27 pages of worksheet exercises for kids, covers almost everything a solid Black History Month syllabus should touch on.
It starts with the slave trade, before moving through emancipation, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and into recent history with Barack Obama’s role as the first African American President of the United States. But these fact files and worksheets also touch on great Black entertainers and more somber topics such as racial discrimination.
If you’re looking for a one-stop-shop Black History worksheet bundle, this is the one.
Black History worksheet for kids #2: Maya Angalou
Maya Angalou’s creative career spanned poetry, singing, acting, and even teaching — so there’s a lot that children can learn from this inspiring woman.
This worksheet bundle has 21 pages of Maya Angalou content, asking kids to design their own book covers for some of her seven published autobiographies, alongside poem analysis for older grades.
Black History worksheet for kids #3: Black Panther Party
Kids will no doubt be more familiar with Black Panther, the Marvel and Disney Studios box-office success story of 2018.
But did they know that the Black Panther party (Black Panther Party for Self-Defense) was an African-American revolutionary group founded in California in 1966? The party’s mission was to defend local residents from police brutality, and the story of what they did is a compelling and important one for older school children to hear.
This Black Panther worksheet bundle is the perfect aid for teachers when sharing the real history of Black Panther, with 21 pages of content designed for either classroom or homeschooling environments.
Black History worksheet for kids #4: Alexander Hamilton
Now the basis of global theatre sensation ‘Hamilton’, the story of Alexander Hamilton presents a fantastic range of lesson ideas, from history and politics, right the way through to music and drama.
Born to Scottish and West Indian parents, Alexander Hamilton was given the opportunity to study in America, where he would later end up shaping the political landscape in a way that’s still felt today.
Sadly, Hamilton’s life ended too soon when he was injured in a duel with a political adversary. But you can see why this biographical tale is worthy of the stage!
Kids will love following the incredible story through this Alexander Hamilton worksheet bundle, featuring 23 pages of content on his life and career, as well as other information into American Founding Fathers.
Download the best worksheets for kids right here
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