Black History Month is filled with interesting social studies topics to explore with your primary students. Come along to see how you can weave the incredible stories of Rosa Parks, Ruby Bridges, and others into your daily classroom lessons throughout February. Not only will your students learn about important people throughout history, but you’ll also be able to target important ELA skills along the way!
Exploring Black History Month in the Classroom
Teaching young students about famous African Americans who helped to shape the world is an integral part of primary social studies instruction. Over the years, these topics were among my favorite to teach. They offered a strong dose of inspiration to my little learners and always grabbed their interest.
In my classroom, we focused on a few people in particular in our Black History Month lessons. Most of our studies included activities on George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, and Rosa Parks. These four people have fascinating stories to follow that are perfect for kindergarten through third-grade students!
I’ve bundled together all the Black History Month resources I used in my classroom. Having a variety of lessons, readers, and extension activities in one place made planning and teaching easy. Ready to see what that looked like?
Introducing our Black History Month Heroes
Typically, we’d focus on one person at a time throughout the month. I liked to start our lessons by using an instructional PowerPoint as a group. The slides we used are filled with facts and pictures to help tell each person’s story in a developmentally appropriate way. This is a great way to introduce each person and spend some time discussing as a group to ensure comprehension.
The slides also include charts, graphic organizers, and questions to help facilitate deeper understanding. I tend to revisit these slides throughout our time working on these topics. We might complete a chart or two per day to recap, review, and assess.
After our introduction, it would be time to dive a little deeper into each of the people we were learning about. For this, I used little books and mini-readers that provided even more information. The students loved having their own book about each of the famous people.
There are two different readers to choose from. Younger students might do better with the smaller version that contains more condensed facts and shorter sentences. The second option is perfect for challenging your second and third-grade students with more facts and information on each page.
I liked to read through the mini-book as a group and have students color in the pictures as we discussed what we read. This was also the time I would weave in questioning strategies. This not only allowed us to focus on the facts of the individual we were learning about but also weave in some of the reading comprehension strategies we were working on.
You can ask students what they found to be most interesting or why they think certain events occurred. This is a great time to see what your students connect with and better understand the unique lens of each person’s achievements.
Teaching with Timelines
One of my favorite tools to use when teaching social studies is a timeline. Timelines not only allow us to order historical events and see where one event was in relation to another. But there are also a variety of math and critical thinking skills involved too!
After reading through our mini books, we always used timelines to help students fully grasp the life of each person we learned about throughout Black History Month. In my classroom, I used printable cards with dates and facts. This helps children visually see each important event that occurred and understand the order they took place.
My favorite way to do this activity is as a group. I pull a card, read a fact, and then have students help me get them in the correct order. You may have to place a few cards on the timeline to get things started. This will help provide a point of reference for your kiddos.
I also liked to wrap up the activity by having students create their own timelines. This activity is fantastic for helping students truly grasp and understand these events and their significance.
The timeline worksheets we used also come in differentiated versions to meet the diverse needs of a broad range of primary learners.
Connecting to the Past
As we learned about each of these famous African-Americans I wanted students to gain more than just knowledge and facts. I wanted them to start to develop an understanding of how someone’s actions in the past can affect our lives today.
To do this we would complete a variety of different extension activities for each of the people in our unit. For some, this might include foldables or graphic organizers added to our social studies notebooks. For others, it was to share what we had learned through writing.
Graphic Organizers and Printables
Graphic organizers and other printables are a great way to make extending student learning easy. Students can reflect on what they’ve learned, write down some important facts, and organize the information on their own or with a partner.
The graphic organizers are great for cutting out pasting into a notebook as well. In my classroom, we used a spiral-bound notebook for social studies lessons. As we learned about a new topic or person, students could add a few pages to help them remember what they learned. I love this extra step because students can flip through and see all the hard work they’ve done throughout the year. Plus, parents will love looking back and seeing the progression of their students’ writing with each new entry.
In the Black History Month Bundle, these charts and organizers are also included in the PowerPoint slides. This allows you to use them to model the activity as students complete it or as a whole group review activity. Either option is a great way to give students another opportunity to review the stories of each person in your Black History Month lessons.
Black History Month Writing Activities
Writing activities are a wonderful way to expand on student understanding. They’re always my favorite part of any social studies unit.
In these units, I have included a full page of writing paper along with clipart that illustrates important events and themes related to each person. I liked to have students flip through their notebooks and mini-readers to decide what information they’d like to include in their biographical writing. Then, they can write out a few sentences and choose some pictures to cut and glue down to their paper.
The fun thing about this activity is that even though the whole class will be writing about the same person, the writing assignments always turn out very differently! I liked to save these and then bind them together with a simple, construction paper cover for each student. This way students will have a mini book with everything they’ve learned throughout our Black History Month lessons.
I love a good craft! And even more so when it ties into what we’ve been learning. As the final activity for each unit, I have students make their very own “Bag of Facts”. This is a brown paper bag that’s filled with interesting tidbits we learned about each person of study.
Students get to pick out their favorite facts about each person, write them out, and add them to the bag. Then they decorate the front of the bag and make it their own.
As another option, the bundle also includes a Crown of Facts option. This activity focuses on the same concept, but students will wear the facts on their heads. Choose whichever option works best for your students, or mix it up and use a couple of each throughout the month!
Both of these end of unit crafts make a fun keepsake for students to take home and share what they’ve learned with their parents.
Grab the Black History Month Activities
These activities make learning about these important figures in history a breeze! If you’re looking for a low-prep way to teach Black History Month topics in your classroom, be sure to check out all of the fun resources in this bundle. It’s filled with all of the activities mentioned in this post for George Washington Carver, Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Bridges, and Rosa Parks.
Use the instructional PowerPoint to introduce each person, then use the mini readers and timelines to dive deeper into the facts about each person. Follow up with worksheets and writing activities. Finally, assess student understanding with the quizzes and celebrate each person with a craft! This bundle will save you time and make teaching these topics fun and easy!
Looking for More?
Check out these posts for more fun and engaging social studies activities for the primary classroom!
Save These Black History Month Activities
Save this post to your favorite social studies Pinterest board so you can come back when you need engaging resources for your Black History Month lessons.