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Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks
Changed The Rules



  • Arts & Humanities
    --Language Arts
    --Visual Arts
  • Social Studies
    ---U.S. History


  • K-2
  • 3-5


Brief Description

Students complete a diagram of the Montgomery bus that carried Rosa Parks into the history books. Work sheet included.


Students will

Return to Five Lessons in Black History
  • learn the story of Rosa Parks.
  • learn about the rules (for white people and for black people) on buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.
  • follow directions to complete a diagram illustrating seating arrangements and rules on buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955.
  • role play the scene on the bus on that December day in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus.


Rosa Parks, Black History, African American, Montgomery, bus, boycott, role play, drama

Materials Needed[shopmaterials]

Lesson Plan

In this activity, students listen to or read a selection describing the events of December 1, 1955. Then they read the rules that people had to follow on the bus. They label an illustration of the bus to reflect those rules.

Read aloud to students a book about Rosa Parks. If you are unable to locate a book, you can read the story that follows:

<> Rosa Parks was a seamstress in Montgomery, Alabama. One December day, almost 50 years ago, Rosa got on the bus to go to work. She took a seat in the first row of the section in the back of the bus that was reserved for black people like Rosa.

A short time later, the bus stopped to pick up another passenger. A white person wanted to get on the bus, but there no more seats at the front of the bus, which was reserved for white people. The driver asked Rosa to move to the back of the bus so the white person could sit down. But Rosa would not move.

News of Rosa's refusal to give up her seat spread quickly through Montgomery. Just a few days later black people across the city stopped riding the bus. They walked to work instead. The bus company lost lots of money because only white people rode the bus.

Black people in Montgomery walked to work for almost a year. Finally, the rules were changed. The new rules let black people sit in any seat on the bus. Black people in Montgomery had Rosa to thank for the new bus rules.

After sharing Rosa's story, distribute to each student a copy of the Rosa Parks Changed the Rules work sheet. Have students read the text at the top of the page that tells about the rules that were usually followed on buses in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Then call on students to read those rules aloud. Discuss the rules in relation to Rosa's story, and have students do the activity on the work sheet.

Extension activities



Check students' work sheets to see if they made proper inferences and followed directions.

  • The driver's area at the front of the bus should be colored blue.
  • The fare box at the front of the bus should be colored green,
  • The two long seats facing each other, and the first three rows of seats (the "white section") should be colored red.
  • The five rows of seats at the back end of the bus should be colored black.
  • The words "Front Door" should appear by the front door of the bus.
  • The words "Back Door" should appear by the back door of the bus.
  • The words "Standing Room" should appear in the area with no seats at the back of the bus.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts
NA-VA.K-4.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines
GRADES 5 - 8
NA-VA.5-8.6 Making Connections Between Visual Arts and Other Disciplines

NL-ENG.K-12.1 Reading for Perspective
NL-ENG.K-12.2 Reading for Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.3 Evaluation Strategies
NL-ENG.K-12.9 Multicultural Understanding
NL-ENG.K-12.12 Applying Language Skills

NSS-C.K-4.2 Values and Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.K-4.5 Roles of the Citizen
GRADES 5 - 8
NSS-C.5-8.2 Foundations of the American Political System
NSS-C.5-8.3 Principles of Democracy
NSS-C.5-8.5 Roles of the Citizen

NSS-USH.K-4.3 The History of the United States: Democratic Principles and Values and the People from Many Cultures Who Contributed to Its Cultural, Economic, and Political Heritage
GRADES 5 - 12
NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)
NSS-USH.5-12.10 Era 10: Contemporary United States (1968 to the Present)

Click to return to this week's Lesson Planning article, Lessons in Black History.

See additional lessons and resources on Education World's special Black History Month archive page.

Links updated 2/2/2015