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Black History, education

Black History Month Lessons & Resources, Grades K-5

NEA 5 Hours Ago

by Phil Nast

Integrating African-American Culture & History into Your Curriculum

By Phil Nast, retired middle school teacher and freelance writer

Found In: language arts, social studies, preK-2, 3-5

To help you integrate Black History Month into your classroom, we offer a selection of lesson plans that cover a variety subjects and that can be adapted to fit grades K-5.

Lesson Plans & Activities

Lesson Plans

Musical Harlem Students in grades K-4 listen to jazz audio clips to learn to identify styles and musicians associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

Jazz Music, Dance, and Poetry Students in grades K-4 are introduced to jazz dance and jazz music, explore basic jazz dance movements, and create a cinquain poem inspired by jazz.

Celebrate African American Heritage Lessons, activities, and resources for grades K-5.

African American Scientists and Inventors Students in grades K-12 learn about and celebrate the contributions of African American scientists using a link from this page to The Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences.

African American Inventors and Trailblazers Students in grades 3-5 learn about 10 African Americans whose innovations improved transportation, health care, fashion, and lunch.

America I Am Students in grades 5-12 participate in lessons and activities as a history unit or as part of social studies, economics, math, art, and literature curricula. This Black History Month curriculum is presented with support from the National Education Association.


Smithsonian Jazz Mixer Students in grades K-12 can explore a jazz timeline, world map, and a virtual mixer that lets them listen and observe the elements of jazz.

Culture & Change: Black History in America Students in grades 3-4 can read about Rosa Parks, Melba Pattillo, and ten African American men and women and their inventions. They can view an interview with author Christopher Paul Curtis and listen to a history of jazz with Wynton Marsalis, and take a virtual journey on the Underground Railroad.

Notable African Americans from the 18th-century to the present In this Jeopardy-type quiz game students in grades 5-12 can choose from three levels of difficulty to test their knowledge of famous African Americans. Spelling counts, for example Billy Holiday rather than Billie Holiday would be marked incorrect.

The Underground RailroadK-12 students make decisions as they follow Harriet Tubman and escape from a slave owner in this online interactive.

Background Resources

Social Studies

African American History Month Exhibits & Collections Resources covering art and design, baseball, civil rights, culture, folklife, military, music and performing arts, religion, slavery, and resource guides.

EDSITEment’s Guide to Black History Month Teaching Resources Investigate the contributions African Americans have made in the history and cultural development of the United States.

Du Bois Central Still in development, Du Bois Online will become one of the largest, free online collections of primary materials for the study of African American history and culture.

Black Labor History Lessons and links on the life histories of people whose struggle was part of a larger social and economic movement to improve the lives of the working class.

Separate Is Not Equal – Brown v. Board of Education History, images, and other resources covering the historic Supreme Court ruling ending segregation and ensuring opportunity in education.

Africans in America Images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries. The site provides teacher’s and youth guides. The four part series may be in local libraries.

African American World The site features a timeline, reference room with video and audio links, kids’ section, and lessons for grades 3-12 covering history, arts and culture, race and society, and biographies.

Black History – Biography – Celebrate Black History Month & People Biographies, timelines, photos, video, game, quiz, and 101 fast facts.


Poems to Celebrate Black History Month Poems and articles by African-Americans.

Jazz: A Film by Ken Burns Online activities and biographies, transcripts of many interviews with musicians, K-12 lesson plans, and a music study guide for grades 5-8.

Jazz in Time Students in grades 5-12 can read this interactive timeline about the development of jazz (about 30 minutes) and listen to imbedded audio clips.

The History of Hip-Hop A collection of interviews from National Public Radio (NPR) that chronicle the seminal people and events in the hip-hop movement.

African American Visual Art and the Black Arts Movement The Black Arts Movement (BAM) began in the mid-1960s to provide a new vision of African Americans. This site provides images galleries a theoretical essay, timeline, and links to other online art sources. Note: the top banner links are dead but the bottom links are functional.

Gordon Parks A brief look at the life and work of Gordon Parks, novelist poet, painter, composer, pianist, and photographer. The site includes a brief biography, image gallery, and interview video clips.

The Black Past: Remembered and Reclaimed African American History by region.


African Americans in Science and Technology Links from the Library of Congress.

African American Inventors Brief biographies of African American inventors.


Negro Leagues Baseball Museum: Electronic Resources for Teachers Before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball there was Negro League Baseball. This site features history, a timeline, photos, and teacher resources, including lessons for grades 9-12.

African American Athletes Brief biographies and film clips of outstanding African American athletes. Don’t miss the links to legal and political figures, scientists and educators, activists, artists and writers, entertainers, and musicians and singers.




Legacy: Being Black in America (60 minutes) A documentary on the 2007 Washington tribute dinner to honor the Civil Rights generation and a look at the lives of African-Americans today. Check local listings to see when it airs on a local PBS station.

The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords (86 minutes) The site provides a timeline, transcript of the film, interactive activities, lesson plans for grades 3-4, biographies of past journalists and interviews with modern journalists. The DVD may be available in local libraries.

Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (68 minutes) Considered the oldest black neighborhood in America, Faubourg Tremé is the origin of the southern civil rights movement and the birthplace of jazz. Check local listings to see when it airs on a local PBS station.

Forgotten Genius (120 minutes) Chemist Percy Lavon Julian struggled against racism as he pursued research with steroids and alkaloids and helped to create affordable and effective treatments for rheumatoid arthritis and glaucoma. A teacher’s guide has student activities. (The program is in 13 chapters and can be watched online.)

last updated: January 24, 2014



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