Every February, students across the United States and Canada celebrate Black History Month by learning about famous African Americans and pivotal moments in history. Whether you're doing a complete unit on black history or just weaving in a few lessons here and there, it is important to find unique plans each year in order to cover a wide array of professions and contributions.
Printable Lesson Plans
Note that in order to print any lesson plans, you'll need to download the latest version of Adobe reader.
Famous African Americans
This lesson plan is aimed at fifth grade and up and encourages students to take a look at the contributions of African Americans throughout history. Students will look at civil rights leaders, musicians, inventors and other African Americans who impacted history. Famous people to research include:
- Rosa Parks
- George Washington Carver (inventor)
- Lewis Latimer
- Dr. Patricia E. Bath
- Thurgood Marshall
- Louis Armstrong
Read through the lesson plan so you can prepare for upcoming events, such as the day of presentations and notifying parents ahead of time that a costume will be required.
I Have a Dream, Too
This lesson plan is aimed at sixth through eighth graders. A discussion about civil rights wouldn't be the same without looking at Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech, I Have a Dream. Integrate the speech with a writing project where students will explore:
- Their dreams
- How King's fight for civil rights makes those dreams possible
- How listening to the speech impacted the student
Print out the lesson and read it through at least once. Gather materials needed, save suggested resources onto your computer and present the material as outlined in the lesson plan, adding your own twist.
Map the Underground Railroad
This activity is for fifth grade and up. Students will learn about the underground railroad that ran from the south to the north. The lesson allows students to:
- Learn about the different roles people played on the underground railroad
- Discover in what states the railroad was active
- Make a map of scenarios slaves faced while escaping from the south
Print out the lesson plan and read through it thoroughly. The only materials you really need are copies of a map of the underground railroad for students to use when creating an escape route.
Where to Find Additional Lesson Plans
Hot Chalk offers a large selection of Black History Month lesson plans. You'll even find lessons that cover topics such as:
- Geometry - covers information on shapes found in a village in Africa
- Board Games
- Art - tribal art and tattoos
The lesson plans are easy to follow and include a list of objectives and materials needed. You'll even get some ideas for independent study.
EDSITEment is a division of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and offers detailed lesson plans for teachers on many historical moments and ideas, such as:
- Freedom Riders
- Revolution '67
- The Great Migration
- Life Under Slavery
The lesson plans feature everything from background for the teacher, to guiding questions, lesson activities and even assessments.
National Civil Rights Museum
The National Civil Rights Museum offers a section covering exhibits found there with lesson plans for high school teachers. These lessons tie in nicely to any Black History Month activities.
- The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution
- 1963 March on Washington
- Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike
- "Project C" Birmingham - Confrontation
Each lesson plan provides objectives and also explains how the lesson meets common standards for high school students. The lessons start with an outline you can use to prepare and then go into more specific implementation of the lesson.
Key Historical Figures
Black History Month is celebrated in February to honor the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Both men forever changed history and the future of African Americans. To be sure the darker moments in history aren't repeated, students must study it, understand it and learn from it. Lesson plans studying some of the key contributors to black history help achieve this.