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4 Writing Activities for Celebrating Black History
Inspire your students to explore black history and culture through writing. Present any of these engaging writing prompts in your middle school or high school classroom during Black History Month or beyond. Each activity requires students to inquire about the people, places, events, and issues that have shaped African-American history.
Writing a Historical Dialogue
Ask your students to imagine what a conversation would be like between them and a significant African-American contributor to social studies, science, math, or English. What would they ask? What would they want to know?
Present them with the following lists of famous figures and encourage them to choose a person they don't know much about. Then have them research the figure and create a dialogue (written conversation) between themselves and the person. The dialogue should discuss important experiences in the person’s life and work.
- Claudette Colvin
- Bessie Coleman
- Frederick Douglass
- Bass Reeves
- Condoleezza Rice
- Neil deGrasse Tyson
- George Washington Carver
- Mae Jemison
- Gerald A. Lawson
- Benjamin Banneker
- Nikki Giovanni
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Zora Neale Hurston
- Langston Hughes
- Maya Angelou
Use this minilesson to help your students create a historical dialogue.
- Writing an Arts & Performance Review
Discuss the significance of the Harlem Renaissance, an era in the 1920s and 30s that is considered a golden age for African-American art, music, dance, and literature. Show this video to give a brief overview of the period.
Then ask your students to pretend that they are entertainment critics in New York City during this era. Explain that their editor (you) has assigned them to write a review of a special piece of art from the period. Have them choose between the following options, or allow them to seek other art and entertainment from the period:
- Song: “It Don’t Mean a Thing” by Duke Ellington
- Song: “Nobody Knows When You’re Down and Out” by Bessie Smith
- Painting: Jeunesse by Palmer Hayden
- Poem: “I, Too, Sing America” by Langston Hughes
- Dance: The Lindy Hop
Have students complete background research on the artist, writer, musician, or performance they chose. Then assign a written review in which students do the following tasks:
- Give their opinions of the art or performance.
- Give examples from the art or performance to support their views.
- Use specific details to describe something special about the sights, sounds, colors, or words.
- Provide background information about the artist, writer, performer, or genre.
- Describe how the piece fits within the larger culture of the Harlem Renaissance.
Use this minilesson to help your students write an arts and performance review.
Writing a List Poem
Help your students create list poems, which playfully explore a topic by listing people, places, things, or ideas. Often the title says what the list is about. Advise students that list poems do not necessarily need to include rhythm or rhyme, but each word should be carefully chosen and memorable.
Present the example below. Then ask students to write their own list poems based on the same title, or allow them to choose different topics related to Black History Month.
Black History Is
Frederick at a lectern
Harriet along a railroad
Rosa aboard a bus
Martin amid a march
Thurgood inside a courtroom
Nine outside a schoolhouse
Jackie at the ball diamond
Mae beyond the Earth
Barack atop the polls
Use this minilesson to help your students write a list poem.
Debating the Issues
Many of the writers, artists, and political figures that drove African-American history did so by crafting powerful arguments. Inspire your students to build their own arguments about key issues by presenting them with the following debatable statements.
- African-Americans’ fight for social justice ended after the Civil Rights Movement.
- The Academy Awards need to do a better job of recognizing African-Americans’ contributions in cinema.
- Black History Month isn’t needed because black history is American history.
- Black culture is a lifestyle.
Ask students to pick a statement that they have strong feelings about. Do they agree or disagree? Have students research their topics to create argumentative essays that either support or counter the statements they've chosen. Introduce them to the 7 C’s for Building an Argument to help them develop their essays. Emphasize that students should consider both sides of the issue and support their own stance in a respectful manner.
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"Mae Jemison" by NASA - http://grin.hq.nasa.gov/ABSTRACTS/GPN-2004-00020.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mae_Jemison.jpg#/media/File:Mae_Jemison.jpg
"Duke Ellington at the Hurricane Club 1943". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Duke_Ellington_at_the_Hurricane_Club_1943.jpg#/media/File:Duke_Ellington_at_the_Hurricane_Club_1943.jpg
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The State Standards provide a way to evaluate your students' performance.
- LA 10.2.1.b
- LA 10.2.2.a
- LA 10.2.2.c
- LA 10.2.1.c
- LA 10.2.1.i
- LA 10.2.2.b
- LA 12.2.1.b
- LA 12.2.2.a
- LA 12.2.2.c
- LA 12.2.1.c
- LA 12.2.1.i
- LA 12.2.2.b
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10 Inspiring Black History Month Activities for Students
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7 Black History Month topic ideas
Guidelines for teaching during black history month, 10 black history month activities for your students.
February is Black History Month : the celebration of African American history, contributions, and achievements that’s recognized annually across the United States and Canada.
For teachers, it’s a great opportunity to teach with intention, honoring the tradition and showing students its importance, along with the importance of Black history and culture.
And this year, it's more important than ever to uphold this tradition and celebrate Black history — no matter where your students are learning.
Use these 10 activity ideas to teach Black history all month and keep your students engaged, whether they're in-class or online!
Typically, teachers tend to stick with the same few topics during Black History Month: civil rights, historical Black leaders or celebrities, and important milestones.
While these are still great topics to explore, there are also plenty of other important concepts you should consider introducing to your students this year, such as:
- Current Black political issues
- The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity
- Stereotypes and microaggressions
- The history and impact of Black culture
- The history of hip hop
- African Americans and the Vote
- Black Health and Wellness (this year's Black History Month theme!)
For Black History Month 2022, this year's theme is Black Health and Wellness. People are encouraged to explore how North American healthcare has underserved the black community and recognize the contributions to medicine and healthcare by black people.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Firsties♥️Ms. Salamak (@fur_babies_and_firsties)
When teaching Black history, remember to:
- Follow the do’s and dont’s
- Always promote diversity in your classroom
- Remind students that Black history is American history
- Leverage Black voices as much as you can (use relevant media, invite guest speakers etc.)
P.S. If you want to help parents talk about Black history and racial issues with their kids at home, use these 8 tips for parents as a helpful resource to start with — including additional resources for anyone who wants to learn more.
Use these activities throughout the month (and the rest of the year) to keep Black history at the forefront of your lessons and encourage your students to keep learning more.
1. Quote or fact of the day
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
Every morning, greet your students with a new quote or fact that’s relevant to Black history.
Say them aloud during your lesson, add them to your bulletin board or send them in an online message (or all of the above, if you’re feeling ambitious). After this, you can open a discussion with your class about the relevance of each quote or fact.
Your students will love looking forward to what each day brings!
- Black history facts
- 15 Inspiring quotes
- 5 Black history quote posters
- Black history quotes - mini posters
2. Person of the day or week
Take time to talk about Black influencers and their accomplishments. Highlight a different person every day or week and center your lessons around them!
Explore categories like:
- Historical figures
- Heroes and iconic leaders
- Scientists and mathematicians
Tip: Try to look beyond typical historical figures and popular celebrities. There are plenty of Black contributors students may not have even heard of yet — use this chance to introduce them!
3. Black history trivia & games
Bring some fun (and maybe a little competition) into your lessons this month! Find trivia and games that focus on Black history, or repurpose other classroom games to incorporate Black History Month questions and answers.
- Black history multiplication - true or false
- Black history quizzes (these online quizzes are perfect for remote learning!)
4. Worksheet activities
Teach students about Black history while they work on fun activities at their own pace. Send worksheets to students online or print them out for independent classroom learning.
- Black history coloring pages
- Barack Obama crossword and trivia
5. Virtual events
Classroom learning is great, but there’s so much students can learn from their own experiences!
This year especially, there are plenty of online activities and events celebrating Black History Month. So why not choose a youth-appropriate one your class can participate in?
- National Museum of African American History: Classroom Connections
- Black History Every Month: Virtual Events That Inspire Action, Education, and Connection
6. Timeline activity
Provide more context on important events in Black history with a bit of chronology.
Have students put together their own timelines, whether individually or in groups, that focus on specific historical events or people. They’ll have fun putting all the events together and learn lots along the way!
7. Study (and create) art
Art in the Black community carries so much historical and cultural significance that can inspire some great, illuminative lessons.
Assign one of these activities from Creative Child , or get students to:
- Write a story
- Make a video or podcast
- Create visual art or crafts
8. Use relevant media
There’s so much good media out there to help you teach Black history — use it to your advantage!
Read books or watch videos with your class, then discuss the themes and lessons of each piece of media. After this, you can assign work based on them.
Try these books:
- All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
9. Host thought activities
Strengthen collaboration skills with various thought activities during February. These will get students thinking and help them learn new ideas and perspectives from each other.
Start by posing a relevant question to your class, like:
- Why do we celebrate?
- What does Black History Month mean to you?
- How can we fight intolerance in our everyday lives?
Encourage plenty of participation, then discuss everyone’s answers together!
10. Assign a class project
Give your class a larger assignment they can work on for the entire month, like a collaborative media project or group presentation — like this one from The Core Coaches on Teachers Pay Teachers .
These bigger projects let students build on what they’re learning and work together towards something they can be proud of!
Get inspired by these extra resources to help you even more:
- Black History milestones
- Black History in the National Archives
- Teaching tools for Black History Month
- Black History in America teaching guide
- Black History Month resources and lessons
- 10 Picture book biographies to celebrate Black History Month
- 20 Important lessons to teach kids about Black History Month
P.S. Want to make your math classes more engaging? Research shows Prodigy make math more fun and can even contribute to better test performance! Discover more about Prodigy's adaptive math platform today!
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Writing Prompt Worksheets for Black History Month
It’s February, and we have a brand new set of Black History Month writing worksheets just for the occasion. If you have already taught your students about Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Harriet Tubman, there are also some prompts to discuss what they have learned. To go beyond these three iconic people in history, please check out our Black History Month For Kids – 6 Amazing African American Trailblazers lesson plan .
Black History Month was officially started in 1970 to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history,” as stated by Gerald Ford 6 years later in 1976. While many of our writing prompts are funny or goofy, these prompts give your students the opportunity to really examine race and racism in society, both historically and as it still exists today. This will help put these amazing achievements by black people in context, as students can understand the challenges they faced while making such a positive impact on society.
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Black History Month Writing Prompts
Posted on Last updated: August 6, 2021
I think these Black History Month writing prompts require learners (young and old) to reflect on what they’ve learned and encourage them to communicate their thoughts and ideas through their writing.
These prompts aren’t only for writing! There are so many valuable discussions that could happen as a class and/or as a family with these prompts.
In a class or as a family, you can focus on one prompt a day or a week. Simply download (below), print, and cut apart into 12 sections.
My favorite is #11 – Think about inventions made my African Americans. Choose two. How have they changed our world?
Edventures features this awesome list of picture books that go along with our resource that will deepen knowledge, discussions, and writing.
Download and print your free copy below: