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Lessons to Celebrate Black History Month

Black History MonthFebruary is the annual observance of Black History Month, a time to recognize the achievements, contributions, and culture of African Americans. This week, Education World offers ten innovative activities to start your celebration of Black History Month -- and to help you incorporate the African American experience into your curriculum all year long! Included: Challenge students to create ABC books, murals, and more about famous African Americans!

In 1926, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, an African American historian, writer, and educator, established Negro History Week to honor the contributions of African Americans. Often called the "Father of Black History," Woodson chose February for this observance because the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln fall in this month. During the early 1970s, the name of the celebration was changed to Black History Week. It was expanded to Black History Month in 1976.

Black History Month is sponsored by the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH), an organization founded by Woodson in 1915. (It was then called the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.) Each year, the ASALH selects a national theme for Black History Month. The theme for 2001 is Creating and Defining the African-American Community: Family, Church, Politics, and Culture.

Begin your celebration of Black History Month with ten terrific classroom activities from Education World! Read the brief description of each activity below. Click any headline for a complete teaching resource!

Civil Rights Timeline
Students create a timeline about important events in the early civil rights movement. (Grade 6-8, 9-12)

Famous African Americans ABC Book
Help students create an ABC book with short biographies of famous African Americans in history. (Grade K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

African American History Mural
Students create a mural of famous African Americans. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Fabulous Firsts in African American History
Students learn fascinating firsts and facts about African American history and answer questions about those facts. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

African American Inventors and Inventions
Students learn about inventions created by African Americans and complete a work sheet about the information learned. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

365 Days of African American History
Have students create a daily calendar of events in African American history. (Grade K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

'I Have a Dream' Poster
After studying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, students create a poster about their dreams for the future. (Grade K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Local Black History
Help students learn about African American history in their city or town using library sources, online sources, and oral narratives. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Students dramatize the incident that started the civil rights movement: Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)

Romare Bearden-Style Collages
Students create collages in the style of African American artist Romare Bearden. (Grade 3-5, 6-8, 9-12)


The Web is full of great resources for teaching about African American history and culture. Following are four sites worthy of special note:

  1. The Dred Scott Case
  2. Black History Archives
  3. Smithsonian Education 
  4. African American History Month



Read More About It!

Find a host of ideas for teaching about black history on our special Celebrate Black History theme page.




Article by Lois Lewis
Education World®
Copyright © Education World


Last updated 12/30/2014