Sunday, March 4, 2012

Black History Month Activities

OK, so we did Black History work concentrated into one week here instead of a whole month. Still, we had a lot of fun and learned a lot about the importance of tolerance, and we familiarized ourselves with a few important characters from black history.

Before we could talk about race, we had to start by teaching that each of us has different characteristics, and skin tone is just one of them. So, we played Guess Who? a bunch- the monster version as well as the people version. :) This helped our kids relate to the idea that each of us has many unique physical characteristics which make us look the way we do.

Next, we talked about tolerance. We talked about some pretty major questions: What is it? What does it mean in our day-to-day life? Why is it important to be tolerant of others?

We made this black and white cake to illustrate how wonderful the world "tastes" with both black and white (chocolate chips) in it. This seemed to me to be an excellent excuse to eat cake.

We made collages using brown and white paper. We talked about how no two collages were the same, but they were all beautiful. 

Next, we talked about two specific people from black history: Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman. (To avoid overwhelming our young children we chose only two people to discuss this year.)

We watched this quick video about why Ms. Parks was important to civil rights.
(A note about using YouTube: there are a lot of wonderful resources available to use in your homeschool, but you should be sure to preview any that you may consider using because there are sometimes not-so-great resources mixed in with the great ones.)

We made buses from milk cartons with Rosa Parks in them:

I cut windows, a windshield, and a roof with a knife.
We colored in some wooden people I had leftover from another project. Peg people would be great for this.

Here is Ms. Parks.

No one was in the mood to paint the buses, so we colored the cartons in with permanent marker and added wool circles for wheels.

We used this book as inspiration.

Here are a few other books we borrowed from the library to round out our study.
 After reading Moses, we did some Underground Railroad activities. We used this online simulation from National Geographic to pretend we were slaves being escorted by Harriet Tubman on the railroad. (This is intended for children who are a bit older, but ours did just fine with some adult help.) We also used their maps and photographs to augment our discussions.

From this game we learned that safe houses on the Underground Railroad were marked with lanterns. So, we made a lantern to tell all who visit our house that it is "safe," meaning it's a tolerant and welcoming home for all races. Now, where the picture of the painted version of our lantern is I simply don't know. But you get the idea. (Cut out milk carton+ toilet paper roll+tissue paper = safe house lantern.)

By the way, once we were done making our house "safe," we took out the toilet paper torch and strung this baby up in the backyard. We filled the bottom with birdseed and have actually seen birds coming to it for snacks!

For my younger learners we used popsicle stick safe house puzzles, to be assembed using knowledge of printed letters and numbers. The girls could move the sticks around as they wanted to create the house.

And if you haven't yet read the beautiful book President Obama wrote for his girls, I highly recommend it. Regardless of one's political leanings, it's a great book to read during Black History month not only because it's written by our nation's first black president, but it also shares some wonderful parent/child messages and makes some beautiful historical connections.


  1. Love your milk bus! What a creative idea!! (You should link it up at the TGIF linky party!!) I just wanted to let you know that I made a button for the purposes of promoting your blog for the 500 party: - if you make one let me know and I will grab yours!! =-)

  2. I smile every time I walk by that book poster in the morning. I love it so.



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