African American woman studying text

Black History Month

During the month of February, celebrate Black History month by incorporating these ideas into your homeschool lessons on African-American influence. Check out these resources you can apply across your curriculum, including science and invention, music and arts, sports and entertainment, literature and poetry, and field trips.

Black History Month Ideas

This blog post from Homeschooling Help offers some excellent subjects for character studies and Black History Month ideas to incorporate into a variety of subjects.

Time 4 Learning shares ideas for activities and field trips for all ages.

This Jeopardy-style quiz game can be played by one or two players.

This timeline of key moments in black history from Info Please provides excellent inspiration for a project that can be tailored to fit students of all ages. Select a period from the timeline–or the whole thing–and have students research and create their own illustrated timeline.

Younger students will love these detailed coloring pages featuring various stories and influential figures in black history.

Science & Invention

This article from How Stuff Works details the work of 10 black scientists, from well-known George Washington Carver and James West to some others you may not have heard of.

Use this lesson plan activity from Scholastic to teach middle-school students about some famous African American inventors.

Students can research any or all of the people on this list of over twenty African American inventors and the patent numbers assigned to their unique inventions.

Music & Arts

This Artsedge lesson by the Kennedy Center is geared toward elementary-school-aged students and details how jazz music is reflective of the Harlem Renaissance. The Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the most significant collections of African American art in the world, boasting more than two thousand works by more than two hundred African American artists. Visit the museum in D.C., or browse the online gallery if the trip is a bit too far. Explore this list of photographers, painters, and sculptors on Biography.

Sports & Entertainment

Explore the biographies of over thirty African American “firsts” in the sports world, including Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Wilma Rudolph, Gabby Douglas, Arthur Ashe, Jesse Owens, Jackie Robinson, and many more.

In an arena largely dominated by men, these eighteen black female athletes have left their indelible marks in its history. From early entertainers like Hattie McDaniel, Dorothy Dandridge, and Sidney Poitier to modern groundbreakers like Oprah Winfrey, Quvenzhane Wallis, and Jordan Peele, African American actors, directors, writers, and more have influenced the entertainment industry’s narrative, style, history, and aesthetics.

Literature & Poetry

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (parental discretion advised) – This 1969 autobiography of American writer and poet Maya Angelou illustrates the triumph of passion and a strong character over racism and trauma.

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass – This second of three autobiographies published by Frederick Douglass expands on the details of his transition from life as a slave to liberty.

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins – Explore how much more there is to Rosa Park’s story than her well-known act of defiance on a segregated bus in her simple, inspiring narrative.  

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt – This remarkable story about the power of friendship is based on the lives of three young men growing up on the streets of Newark who promise to help each other beat the odds and the temptations of city life and become doctors.

You can find study questions and essay topics about this book and its themes here.

The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Maria Tatar – This beautiful anthology reclaims stories passed down through generations of enslaved African Americans.

“For My People” by Margaret Walker

“Caged Bird” by Maya Angelou

“I, Too” by Langston Hughes

“Miz Rosa Rides the Bus” by  Angela Jackson

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson

“Booker T. and W.E.B.” by Dudley Randall

“Frederick Douglass” by Robert Hayden

On Liberty and Slavery”  by George Moses Horton

Inspirational Americans

Learn the stories of these less well-known notable figures and use them as inspiration for lessons in which students can write reports, illustrate stories, create life timelines, and more.

Carter G. Woodson – African American author and historian known as the “Father of Black History”

Benjamin Banneker – Self-educated mathematician, astronomer, compiler of almanacs, and writer who built the first striking clock in the United States (Learn more about Benjamin Banneker and clock-building in this Homeschool Classroom.)

Another book about Benjamin Banneker on the elementary reading level is What Are You Figuring Now?: A Story About Benjamin Banneker by Jeri Ferris.

James Armistead – Revolutionary War-era spy for the American forces

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler – First African American woman in the United States to earn an M.D. degree

Maggie Walker – First female bank president of any race to charter a bank in the United States

Dr. Philip Emeagwali – Noted inventor who used his observations of bees and their honeycomb structure to build the world’s fastest computer in 1989

Eunice Hunton Carter – One of New York’s first black female lawyers and one of the first black prosecutors in the United States

Dorothy Height – Virginia-born civil rights and women’s rights activist

Shirley Chisholm – First African American congresswoman and first major-party black candidate to make a bid for presidency

Robert Smalls – Enslaved man who gained his freedom after the Civil War and became ship’s pilot, sea captain, and politician

Mae Jemison – First African American female astronaut and first black woman in space

African American woman studying text

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