by Megan Bittner
February is Black History Month! Enjoy these ideas for incorporating lessons on African-American influence into your homeschool. Here are some ideas to apply across your curriculum, including science and invention, music and arts, literature and poetry, and field trips.

This blog post from Homeschooling Help offers some excellent ideas for character studies and ways to incorporate black history 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.


Literature & Poetry

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (parental discretion advised)

My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass

Rosa Parks: My Story by Rosa Parks and Jim Haskins

The Pact: Three Young Men Make a Promise and Fulfill a Dream by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins, and Rameck Hunt

The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Maria Tatar

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


Resources and Research Ideas

Heroes in Black History: True Stories from the Lives of Christian Heroes by Dave and Netta Jackson

Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos

Unseen: Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives

100 African-Americans Who Shaped American History by Chrisanne Beckner

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles

Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas by Gwendolyn Hooks

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


Field Trips

Black History Museum – Alexandria

Booker T. Washington National Monument – Hardy

Historic Hopewell Foundation – Hopewell

The Legacy Museum of African American History –Lynchburg

Afro-American Historical Association –The Plains

The Black History Museum – Richmond

The Harrison Museum of African American Culture – Roanoke


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