As February rolls around, it’s a fantastic time to immerse ourselves and our young learners in the rich mosaic of African American history and culture. Black History Month is not just a period to reflect on the past but also an opportunity to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans throughout history.
Engaging kids in Black History Month activities allows us to open their minds to the stories, struggles, and successes of African Americans, fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of diversity and resilience.
Whether you’re a teacher looking for classroom ideas or a parent seeking meaningful ways to engage your child at home, this guide is packed with unique and educational activities designed to make learning about Black history engaging, informative, and fun for kids and elementary students.
Black History Month Activities for Kids
Here are some practical ideas to make Black History Month both educational and memorable for kids and elementary students.
1. Introduce Kids to the Inventor of the Traffic Light
Start by telling the story of Garrett Morgan, an African American inventor who created the three-position traffic signal. Use a specifically designed activity pack that includes coloring pages of his invention, reading comprehension worksheets detailing his life and work, and perhaps a fun experiment simulating his invention using simple materials like colored paper and flashlights. This hands-on approach helps kids understand the importance of his invention in everyday life.
2. Create Educational Visuals Celebrating Black History Month
Encourage students to create their own posters or digital presentations celebrating significant Black figures in history using graphic design tools like Canva or Adobe Spark. They could focus on a variety of areas such as science, art, literature, or social justice. This activity allows children to express their creativity while learning about the contributions of Black individuals throughout history.
3. Play Black History Month Trivia
Organize a trivia game with questions about famous Black inventors, scientists, artists, and leaders. This can be a fun way for kids to learn about historical figures and facts that they might not be familiar with. Consider using a digital quiz tool like Kahoot! to make it interactive and competitive, encouraging children to learn more in preparation for the game.
4. Read Black History Month Stories
Select a range of stories and books that celebrate Black history and culture. After reading, engage the kids in discussions about the themes, characters, and historical contexts of the stories. This can help develop their empathy and understanding of different perspectives and experiences.
5. Discuss Black History Figures
Dedicate time each day or week to learn about a different Black explorer, scientist, leader, or changemaker. Use a variety of resources like videos, biographies, and interactive websites to bring these figures to life. Discuss their achievements, the obstacles they faced, and how they have influenced the world. Highlighting their contributions on a global scale can provide a broader perspective on their impact.
6. Decorate Class
Involve students in decorating the classroom with printables, posters, and their own artwork inspired by Black History Month. This can include portraits of notable figures, quotes, and significant symbols. Hands-on activities like crafting decorations or creating a bulletin board display can make the learning environment more inclusive and inspiring.
7. Read Picture Books
A popular picture book to use with kids is Freedom in Congo Square by Carole Boston Weatherford. Use this picture book as a starting point to explore the history of slavery and the resilience of enslaved Africans in America. Reading and discussing the book can open up conversations about the importance of freedom and the ways in which enslaved people preserved their culture and supported each other.
8. Read Stories with Black Girls as Protagonists
Direct students to the “1000 Black Girl Books” resource guide and select books to read together. This initiative, which highlights stories with Black girls as the main characters, is a fantastic way to introduce diverse voices and experiences into your reading list. Discussing these stories can help students understand different perspectives and the power of representation in literature.
9. African American Music Appreciation
Dive into the rich history of African American music by exploring genres like jazz, blues, gospel, hip-hop, and R&B. Create a playlist of iconic songs from different eras, and organize a listening party. Discuss the origins of each genre and its cultural significance. Incorporate dance by teaching children steps from African or African American dances, or have them create their own choreography inspired by the music. This activity celebrates the profound impact of African American artists on the music world and encourages kids to express themselves through movement and rhythm.
10. Create a Mural
Invite students to work together on a large mural that depicts themes of freedom, unity, and the achievements of Black Americans throughout history. This could involve painting figures who have made significant contributions to society, symbols of the civil rights movement, or scenes that reflect the students’ understanding of Black History Month. This project not only fosters teamwork and creativity but also serves as a visual reminder of the lessons learned during the month.
11. Discover African American Cuisine
Host a day where students can explore African American culinary traditions, which are rich with history and flavor. Share stories about the origins of dishes like soul food, Creole cuisine, and traditional African meals. If possible, organize a potluck or cooking demonstration where children can taste and learn to make simple recipes. This activity offers a delicious way to connect with history and understand the cultural significance of food.
12. Learn about African American Scientists and Inventors
Encourage students to research African American scientists and inventors whose work has changed the world. This can be done through a digital scavenger hunt or an interactive presentation using tools like PowerPoint or Google Slides. Students could focus on figures like Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space, or Lonnie Johnson, inventor of the Super Soaker. This project highlights the contributions of Black individuals in the fields of science and technology, inspiring students to explore their own interests in these areas.
13. Share Family Stories
Invite students to learn about their own families’ histories and any connections to Black history. They can interview family members, write down stories, or bring in photos and artifacts that represent their heritage. Sharing these stories in class can foster a sense of community and personal connection to history. It’s a powerful way to show that history is not just about big names and dates but also about the experiences and contributions of ordinary people.
Embracing Black History Month with kids through a variety of activities is a celebration of culture, innovation, and strength. From exploring the inventions of Garrett Morgan to dancing to the rhythms of African American music, each activity offers a window into the contributions and achievements of Black Americans.
By integrating these Black History Month activities for kids into our teaching or parenting, we not only honor the past but also inspire the next generation to appreciate diversity and aspire to greatness. Let’s make this Black History Month a transformative time for our children, filled with learning, creativity, and discovery, ensuring they carry forward the lessons of resilience, unity, and respect throughout their lives.