Black History Month Activities For College Students: Black History Month takes place in February. We have so much going on in our classrooms (parent-teacher conferences, Valentine’s Day, the 100th day of school, President’s Day, COVID, to name a few), it is sometimes overlooked. Although Black History should be studied throughout the school year, February is the month when it comes into focus. It is the month when we celebrate the black men and women who have contributed so much to our lives. With that said, consider weaving in these Black History Month activities both during February and the school year.
Black History Month Activities For College Students
Black history and culture are such an important part of American culture and education that it’s hard to imagine a time when that wasn’t the case. In the 1920s, Carter G. Woodson founded Negro History Week to honor Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln, who were both born in February. Since 1976, Black History Month has been a time to recognize the contributions and history of African Americans.
Students need to learn about various Black Americans that have been influential throughout history (and even currently!). The same Black Americans are often discussed repeatedly, such as Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., George Washington Carver, and Ruby Bridges. When we do this, we are reinforcing broken mindsets. You can read about these broken mindsets and the importance of Black History Month
Help your students branch out and learn about Black Americans in various categories such as artists, political activists, inventors, spiritual leaders, business people, writers, musicians, athletes, and entertainers.
Biographies are a great place to find information about Black Americans. Sandy over at Sweet Integrations shares how she teaches biography elements using various books in different formats. One book she uses is Dave the Potter. It’s a biography about how Dave was a slave that created beautiful, artistic pottery. To learn more about this remarkable book and her way of using it to teach about biographies, click here.
If you’re looking for some easy-to-print biographies on remarkable Black Americans throughout history, check out these TpT Resources:
Use Picture Books and Chapter Books
There are many books related to Black Americans’ achievements that you can bring into your classroom. Picture books are a great way to present historical facts both accurately and in an engaging manner. From Sparkling in Second, Jen has a post featuring over 30 books that your students would love during Black History Month!
As for chapter books, one series that comes to mind immediately is the Who Was/Who Is series. These books contain biographies on Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou, The Underground Railroad, and so much more.
Black History Month Activities for Your Students
#1 – Class Timeline
Group your students and then assign each group with an important period of Black History. For instance,
Slavery in America
Civil War and Reconstruction
Jim Crow Segregation Era
Civil Rights Movement
Post-Civil Rights Movement
Have the students in those groups research the major events and Black Americans to present to the class. Then provide each group with a large piece of butcher paper or chart paper. Have them write the name of their period along the top with the dates. In their report, they will present images and important “snapshot” events that occurred. Once the entire class has finished, place the papers side-by-side to create a class timeline.
#2 – Student Interviews
After your students have studied various Black Americans, have them create an interview with that individual. This can be done in the format of a news article, a magazine article, or anything. Have students write down questions they would ask, along with the answers he or she would say. Some questions should involve the achievements of that American and his or her’s impact.
#3 – Create an ABC Book
First, read The ABCs of Black History picture book to your students. Conclude by having students create an ABC book similar to the picture book. Students can use Black Americans for the letters or events. Have them illustrate the text and add information they learned.
#4 – Create a Museum Walk
Have students research a specific person from Black History and prepare to give a presentation. This presentation can be in the form of creating posters and hanging them around the room, or a little more involved, like a wax museum activity. If desired, have students dress up as the individual.
#5 – Use Mystery Puzzles with Trivia Facts
All students love puzzles, and trivia can be just as fun. Nesli, from the Teacher wears Prada, likes to tie academics, puzzles, and trivia together. She provides her students with puzzles that involve solving a math problem, and as they work through the problems, they put together a mystery fact. She also likes to do this with sentence building! You learn more about this engaging Black History Month activity You can also have your students create their own mystery puzzles using facts they have learned throughout the unit.
#6 – Create Themed Squares for a Quilt
After studying Black History, provide each student with a square for a quilt. Inside the square, having them include important facts about their Black American, the contributions he or she did, when he or she was around, and other important information. When everyone has finished, connect the squares to create a large themed quilt. For a digital version of making a Black History Quilt, check out this Memory Quilt by the Tech Chick.
#7 – Have a Talent Show
Create groups of students based on the categories mentioned before (artists, inventors, etc.). Assign each student a Black American from within that group. For instance, in the Athletes group, you would assign someone Wilma Rudolph, and another person in the group would be given, Jesse Owens. Have students work together to decide how they will demonstrate each individual’s “talents” as a group.
#8 – Bring Awareness Activities
As you discuss the deeper issues of racism, prejudice, and discrimination, have students bring awareness to what still needs to be done. This can be done through Black History Month activities of having students plan social media campaigns, creating infographics with facts, writing a letter to an editor that uses influential Black American quotes, conducting surveys, and/or making a public service announcement.
#9 – Create Black Hero Puzzles
Provide each student with the puzzle pieces of this Black Hero Puzzle. After they have researched their Black American Hero, have them illustrate the individual in the center, add his or her accomplishments, add some fun facts and a little color- and you have a cute display!
#10 – Have Students Create a Brochure
Have students put together a trifold brochure with all the important events, accomplishments, and so much more. Dr. Loftin’s Learning Emporium has a free brochure on Michelle Obama that students could reference.
A Black History Treasure Hunt Students learn about famous black Americans while polishing their Internet surfing skills. Four different hunts — for students of all ages. Student work sheets included.
Five Lessons in Black History Primary source materials teach about Rosa Parks, school integration, and the growth of the African-American population throughout history. Plus: Students create a database/timeline and write a rap about a famous figure in Black History. More!
Lessons to Celebrate Black History Month Ten innovative activities to help you incorporate the African-American experience into your curriculum all year long.
Langston Hughes Was a Dreamer Too Learn how Langston Hughes expressed his dreams through poetry. (Grades 2-12)
Now Let Me Fly — A Black History Reader’s Theater Script Celebrate Black History Month by staging a classroom production of this play. (Grades 3-12)
Activities Celebrate Achievements of African Americans Activities that reflect the positive impact black Americans have had on our nation’s history. Included: Internet-based activities to celebrate Black History Month.
The Road to Freedom: Using the WWW to Teach About Slavery These activities will help students trace the journey to freedom and learn about some of the heroes who paved the way. Included: Activities for teaching about slavery across the grades and the curriculum.
Climb Aboard the Underground Railroad T.O.U.R. An online project for those studying the Underground Railroad. Project coordinators say, “Climb aboard!” You will share, learn, and uncover a bit of America’s lost past.
Celebrating African American History Month Lesson plans to encourage students to explore the history of African Americans, learn about their struggles, and celebrate their successes.
Brown v. Board of Education Celebrates 50 Years On the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, Education World offers this special lesson planning resource. Included: Links to more than 3 dozen lessons.
An Experiment in Unfair Treatment/Prejudice Pauline Finlay, who teaches at Holy Trinity Elementary School in Torbay, Newfoundland (Canada), submitted this lesson, which offers a simple experiment to help launch a discussion of unfair treatment and prejudice/bias. (Grades 3-12)
The African American Experience: A Research Quilt Introduce students to the research process as they construct a quilt square highlighting the achievements of a famous Black American. Share the quilt with your community.
A Mirror Into History Students create poems about themselves and a famous African American. They will see that they are not so different from the great people of our past and present.
Famous African-American Fabric Portraits Doris Metcalf, who recently retired from the Florence (Alabama) City Schools, submitted this lesson, in which students create a fabric-portrait exhibit of famous African Americans. (Grades 6-12)
The Amistad Comes to Life! Activities across the grades and across the curriculum bring to life the story of the revolt on the Amistad.
Habari Gani? — What’s the News? Learn about Kwanzaa, the world’s fastest growing holiday, with these activities and Internet links.
Martin Luther King Education World presents a special Martin Luther King Day archive page that includes articles, lesson ideas, books, activities, and much more.
The importance of Black History Month in our world today cannot be overstated. It is important to go beyond simply reading passages about these legendary heroes to engage in meaningful activities, discussions, and reflections. Here’s hoping that something in this post helped you get started!