Black History Month is a great time to read, play games, and participate in activities with your kids.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH IDEAS FOR KIDS
Let’s explore history and meet some people that you may not know. Kids will be inspired by these amazing figures in history.
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Black History Month Activities for Toddlers, Preschool & Kindergarten
Play Red Light, Green Light
You might ask what the game Red Light, Green Light has to do with Black History Month, but it all makes complete sense when you meet Garrett Morgan! Garrett Morgan was an African-American inventor who patented the 3-position traffic signal.
Read more about Garrett Morgan with this four book pack called the Garrett Morgan Activity Pack labeled for ages 4-6.
Play a Game of Telephone
What does a game of telephone have to do with Black History Month…you are catching on, right?! Meet Granville T. Woods. Granville Tailer Woods was the first African American mechanical and electrical engineer after the Civil War. He held over 60 patents in the US many in the area of the telephone. He was best known for a system created for the railroad to alert the engineer as to how close his train was to others.
Read more about Granville T. Woods in the book, The Inventions of Granville Woods: The Railroad Telegraph System and the Third Rail
Make a Toilet Paper Train
Let’s meet Elijah McCoy! Elijah McCoy was born in Canada and was known for his 57 US patents which were concentrated on making the steam engine work better. He invented a lubrication system that allowed oil to be distributed evenly around the engine’s moving parts which decreased friction and allowed the engines to run longer, last longer and not overheat. Oh, and he is the one responsible for the common phrase, “The real McCoy”!
Read more about Elijah McCoy in the book, All Aboard!: Elijah McCoy’s Steam Engine which is labeled with a reading age of 5-8. Or read the book, The Real McCoy, the Life of an African-American Inventor which has a reading level of 4-8 years with a Preschool – third grade learning level. Older kids may enjoy the biography, Elijah McCoy.
Black History Month Activities for Older Kids – Elementary School & Grade School
Play Chemistry Games
Next let’s meet Percy Lavon Julian. He was an American research chemist that figured out how to synthesize important medicine ingredients from plants. His work completely changed pharmaceuticals and how doctors are able to treat patients.
Read more about Percy Julian in the book, Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists which is a level 4 Scholastic reader labeled with a reading age of 4-8 years. Older kids may enjoy another book that features Percy Julian’s story, Black Stars: African American Inventors which is labeled with a reading age above the age of 10 year old.
Check Out These Pretend Play Doctor Printables
Then let’s meet Patricia Bath! Dr. Patricia Bath was the first African American to complete a residency in ophthalmology and the first African American female doctor to receive a medical patent! She invented a medical device that helped in the treatment of cataracts.
Read more about Dr. Patricia Bath in the book, The Doctor with an Eye for Eyes: The Story of Dr. Patricia Bath which is labeled as a reading level of 5-10 years and a learning level of grades Kindergarten through 5th grade. For more information, check out the book, Patricia’s Vision: The Doctor Who Saved Sight which has a reading level of 5 years and up and a learning level of Kindergarten through second grade.
More Books that Celebrate Black History Month
We love this list of 15 Children’s Books. via Family Education in addition to the books that we have featured in this article.
We have a list of best books to teach about diversity here at Kids Activities Blog.
Don’t miss these Black History Month Books and Interviews with Their Authors! via Reading Rockets
Coretta Scott King Award Winners & Honor Books
The Coretta Scott King awards are given to African American authors and illustrators for “outstandingly inspirational and educational contribution. The books promote understanding and appreciation of the culture of all peoples and their contribution to the realization of the American dream.”
See all the Coretta Scott King Award books here
Read R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul – reading age 4-8 years old, learning level: preschool to grade 3
Read Magnificent Homespun Brown – reading age 6-8 years, learning level: grades 1-7
Read Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks – reading age 6-9 years, learning level: grades 1-4
Read Me & Mama – reading age 4-8 years, learning level: preschool, kindergarten and grades 1-3
28 Days of Black History Month Crafts for Kids
Have Fun with these 28 Days of Crafts. via Creative Child: <–Click here for all the craft instructions!
Make a stop light craft inspired by Garrett Morgan.
Dream like Martin Luther King Jr.
Make an astronaut craft to be just like Dr. Mae Jemison.
Make an inspirational poster: Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama and Rita Dove.
Quilt a Black History Month quilt.
Try this colorful MLK activity – part art project, part activity!
Make a Jackie Robinson craft paper craft.
Create posters for African American Inventors.
Read the book, Play, Louis, Play about the childhood of Louis Armstrong & then make jazz art.
Get involved with the Black History Pop-Up book.
Make a square for a freedom quilt.
Craft a dove of peace.
Craft a square of an underground railroad quilt.
Make a Quote of the Day board for inspiration.
Write a Rosa Parks story.
Rocket craft celebrating Mae Jemison.
Read The Story of Ruby Bridges and then create an inspired craft and story.
Make a Black History Month mailbox for historic figures to appear each day!
Create Black History Month inspired art.
Make a peanut craft inspired by George Washington Carver.
Be inspired by Alma Thomas and create Expressionist art.
Make tap shoes in honor of Bill “Bojangle” Robinson.
Make a traffic light snack inspired by Garrett Morgan.
Give Peace a Hand with a crafty idea.
Make a box of crayons craft.
Craft a paper chain.
Learn more about Thurgood Marshall with this foldable learning activity.
Dove of Peace.
Black History Month Learning Resources for Kids
Check Out These Great Ideas for How to Teach Your Child About Black History Month. via PBS Kids
Amazing Black History Month Lessons and Resources. via National Education Association
Fun and Educational Black History Month Printables! via Education
Play This Find The Inventor Game. via Maryland Families Engage
Check out Netflix’s Bookmarks: Celebrating Black Voices
Sesame Street teaches about diversity
February is Black History Month, and while I firmly believe that Black history is American history and deserves to be taught all 12 months of the year, I also think it’s worthwhile to shine an extra light on it during this month because for so long it was completely left in the dark. Now teaching history in preschool is tough, because history is complicated and you want to do it justice. Black history is a huge topic with so many stories, and many preschool teachers wonder how we can teach anything without teaching everything. Much of what I do as a preschool teacher is to break down big ideas and skills into achievable ones for my students. I decided that’s exactly how I was going to tackle this too. My students may be too young to comprehend complicated historical events, but as I was researching I decided that my class would love to learn about Garrett Morgan, the inventor of the modern traffic light!
Print the traffic light printable –> click here for your free printable.
Place both on your board or someplace all the children can easily see them.
Make space in your room so you can play a short game of red light green light. If you don’t have space for walking do it on the spot with jogging on the spot at circle time.
CIRCLE TIME ACTIVITY
After your welcome routine point to the traffic light ask the children if they know what that is on the board. What does red mean? What about green? And yellow?
Yes, green means go, red means stop, and yellow means slow down!
Tell the kids that this man Garrett Morgan ( holding or pointing to the picture of Garrett Morgan) invented the traffic light, it used to only have a red and green light, but he added the yellow. Mr. Morgan was born 141 years ago, way before their grandparents. People were very unkind and unfair to him because he had dark skin. Name that as racism, and condemn it. He had to work extra hard to get jobs and make people listen to his ideas. It’s a good thing he didn’t give up because his ideas were very important! With older children go into more detail about how even though slavery is over there were many laws in place all over the United States that made and still make it much harder for Black men and women to be successful in business, to get an education, and housing.
Ask them if they would like to play a little game.
First, play red light green light pointing at the colors on your printable traffic light without calling/ pointing out any yellow. Ask the children if it is easy to stop when they are going so fast?
Now, play with yellow between the green and the red. Was that easier? Yes, and when you are driving in a car it helps too. When you know you need to stop you have more time to slow down and stop safely. Thanks to Garrett Morgan we are all much safer on the roads.
What I love so much about using this game for this lesson is that we play this game throughout the year and now I can remind my students about Garrett Morgan and his great invention more often.
TRAFFIC LIGHT CRAFT
A great board book for Black History Month ( and every day all year round) that I just bought and will be adding to my classroom is Dream Big Little One by Vashti Harrison.
Tonya Cherie Hegamin’s Most Loved in All the World moved me so much when I read it that I am in tears just writing about it. The courage it displays is heartbreaking. The story is about a mother who is part of the underground railroad and preparing her daughter for freedom without her. We read this together after reading about the underground railroad, and my son understood that the mother sacrificed her safety in order for her daughter to be free. The tears didn’t dry too much that night. Despite being a picture book, I believe it’s aimed at the 5-8-year-old crowd because they can understand the deeper meanings and historical significance.