I have a confession to make: It has been some time since I’ve taught a black history unit because I was struggling to find a unique black history lesson for kids. I know it is important to expose students to a diverse variety of people and cultures. I believe it is important to honor the work and legacy of Black Americans and black people in general, but I was struggling with the forced, almost robotic units of the past that included the same influential black people. I did not feel comfortable teaching a unit that did not display a unique black history lesson for kids.
Instead of continuing not to teach a black history unit, I decided to make a unique black history lesson for kids. I knew I wanted it to be something that could be done over an extended period of time. I wanted it to encourage students to get to know and research influential black people that they have never heard about or have never had the opportunity to learn more about before. One of the most important requirements for me was that I would make a unique black history lesson for kids that could be used in multiple formats and make students excited to discover black leaders and heroes near and far.
Before I dive any further into the unique black history lesson for kids that I’ve created, let’s take a look at Black History Month and some of the most well known and respected black people that are typically studied during this month.
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What is Black History Month?
Black History month was started to remember the contributions of important black people. Though it is celebrated in February in the United States and Canada, it is celebrated in October in the U.K, Netherlands and Ireland.
When and Why Was Black History Month Started?
Black History Month or Negro History Week, as it was called then, was first celebrated during the second week of February in 1926. Black History Month was developed by Carter G. Woodson, who along with friends thought it was important to recognize the accomplishments black people had made since the end of slavery.
Why is Black History Month Celebrated in February?
Black History Month is celebrated in February to honor the work of two men who were instrumental in advancing the freedom and progress of black people, Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. February was chosen since both men have birthdays in that month, with Lincoln’s birthday being on the 12th of February and Douglass’ birthday being on the 14th. Outside of the month being the birthdays of these two instrumental individuals, it was also chosen because that month was already being used to celebrate the work and legacy of these two black advocates.
What are the Colors of Black History Month?
The colors that are used for Black History Month celebrations are red, black and green. Each color holds a special meaning that is related to Black History Month. The black represents black people, red represents the blood that unites all black people, irrespective of their origin and green represents the vibrant beauty and resources of Africa.
How can you Celebrate Black History for Kids?
Even though I didn’t complete units recently, because I was struggling to come up with a unique black history lesson for kids, I have celebrated black history with my children in the past. Some of our favorite ways to celebrate black history for kids was reading, researching, creating collages, designing mini replicas and going on web quests that utilized a flipped classroom approach. Each of these are engaging ways to celebrate black history for kids, but I’m excited to share with you the unique black history lesson for kids that I have created.
What are some Black History Month Activities for Schools?
Schools should not be afraid to and should proudly recognize Black History Month, preferably with unique black history lessons and activities for kids. They should definitely try to refrain from only recognizing a handful of people and having any type of activity that seems inauthentic. Some of the activities that schools could use to celebrate black history month for kids are bulletin boards and artistic or creative displays, moments in black history (featuring influential black people) during morning announcements, black history wax museums or fashion shows. I would also encourage placing an emphasis on local and community black leaders, so that students see the relevance of the celebrations and realize that that same type of greatness is possible from them.
Now, that I’ve hopefully cleared up some of the most common questions that people tend to have about Black History Month, such as why it is celebrated and how to celebrate it, let’s jump into how you can create a unique black history lesson for kids.
How Can you Create a Unique Black History Lesson for Kids?