Top 10 Tips for Incorporating Black History Month Themes in Your Classroom

In addition to Valentine's Day, February marks Black History Month. In 1926, Negro History Week was established by Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson to honor African Americans. This was changed to Black History week in 1970, and expanded to Black History month in 1976. This February, you can help bring Black History Month alive to the students in your classroom with a few fun activities.

1. A walk in time: Split students into groups and have them review important events throughout black history. They can look at events like the abolition of slavery, civil rights movement, and even current African American celebrities.

2. The ABCs of famous African Americans: Assign students a famous African American for each letter of the alphabet. Have them write a short biography on their assigned person. Or for younger children, have them draw a picture of the person or their contribution to society.

3. Paint a mural: This is a great way to incorporate art into the history. Pass out a number of names or famous African Americans. Younger students can draw or color pictures of famous African Americans, while older students can do research on their assigned person to decide what to draw.

4. Fantastic firsts: You can introduce all the firsts in African American history - such as the first African American woman to graduate college, the first African American doctor, or the first African American congressman. Have students think about other firsts in history or future firsts - will one of them be the first African American president?

5. African American inventions: Review the different inventions and everyday items that we have thanks to African American inventors. Students will be particularly interested in the items that they use every day.

6. History every day of the year: There is no reason why Black History Month has to last a month. Help students come up with a calendar detailing an interesting African American history fact for each day of the year. This activity works well as a group project, with each group taking a separate month.

7. I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr. is perhaps one of the most well known figures of Black History Month. Study his famous speech, and have students write a paper, or draw a picture of what changes they would like to see in the future. Another exciting exercise is to have the student discuss dreams that they have.

8. History is local too: African American history did not take place just in the Deep South. Have students research local events in African American history, or ask guest speakers come in and tell them what life was like for them during the civil rights movement.

9. Boarding the bus: Rosa Parks is another famous figure of the civil rights movement. Have students reenact possible scenarios of how the bus ride could have gone if she had given up her seat. Students can create their own costumes and props and present skits to the class. 1

10. Create collages: Review the collages created by artist Romare Bearden. Have students bring in old magazines from home to cut out pictures to create their own collages in the same style. Younger students may need help with glue and scissors.