Black History Month runs throughout February, and this is an excellent opportunity to introduce your students to the importance of Black culture and history.
While these subjects should be touched upon throughout the year, Black History Month is a chance to make them centerstage.
Black History Month projects for middle school students should be engaging and fun, while also encouraging the kids to think about equality and justice.
These projects balance research with crafting, to make Black History Month a highlight of the school year.
15 Black History Month Projects For Middle School
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite Black History Month projects to add to your school curriculum.
Incorporate Black history month into the natural flow of the classroom by starting every morning with a quote from an inspiring Black figure, or a fact about Black history.
Follow each quote or fact with a discussion of the context, and ask students to consider the meaning.
Collect the quotes and facts on a bulletin board that you can refer to at the end of the month. You can even ask students to start contributing their own facts and quotes, to help build the board!
A group project that allows students to direct their learning, a Black History Month quilt is an excellent way to educate your class.
The quilt is made up of hexagons, which can come together to create a colorful design. On one hexagon, the student can add a picture of a famous face from Black history.
On a second hexagon, they write about the person’s achievements, and why they’re being honored on the quilt. Finish by attaching all the hexagons together, to create a wonderful monument to African American history.
African American authors have created some exceptional works for the literary canon, but these novels can be a little too complex for middle school classrooms.
Short stories are an excellent way to introduce your students to Black voices, and because you can read more, you can cover a range of authors.
Ask students to find their own favorite short stories from Black authors, or assign a story to each member of the class.
Once they’ve finished their reading, they can complete either a presentation or a worksheet on what the story meant, and what they’ve learned.
A bulletin board is an interactive way to get students interested and engaging with Black History Month.
The basic bulletin board is decorated with foldable flashcards with a printed message on the front encouraging the students to lift the flap and discover more.
Place the bulletin board in the classroom or hallway — wherever the students can access it! After a few days, ask the students to begin contributing their own trivia to the bulletin board.
Alma Woodsey Thomas was an African American artist who is best known for the abstract paintings she created after retiring from her career as a teacher.
Although she painted her entire life, it’s these boldly colored canvases that brought her to the attention of the art elite.
Have the students create their own abstract paintings inspired by the works of Alma Thomas. They can use paints to create the same colorful effect or experiment with collages.
This is a great starting point for discussing other African American artists.
It can be difficult for students to conceptualize just how long and hard African Americans had to fight to gain rights, and how recent many of these events are. Timelines can help students to see how these events shaped American history.
This can work as either a group project or as an individual project. Students can either create their own timeline or research one specific event for a larger timeline.
It doesn’t have to be confined to the Civil Rights Movement! Choose a timeline that you think will work for your classroom.
Perhaps the most famous speech ever given, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech is an inspiring subject for Black History Month.
Print out copies of the speech and lead a discussion about what King meant with the speech, and what he was fighting for.
This is also a good time to discuss the struggles Martin Luther King faced, and to touch on some of his lesser-known speeches.
A lapbook is a large paper book that can be filled with creative summaries of what a student has learned. This can be illustrations, facts, diagrams, timelines — whatever fits the subject!
Creating a lapbook for Black History Month is a great way to get students to explore one subject matter in detail.
A lapbook can be an opportunity to celebrate a figure from the past, but this is also a chance to learn about contemporary Black figures. Whether a sports star or a scientist, have your students research someone who inspires them.
To celebrate Black History Month, ask your students to research a Black scientist or inventor.
They should then present their research to the rest of the class.
Encourage your students to think outside the box, and explore the contributions of lesser-known scientists. Watch the film Hidden Figures, to get their creativity flowing!
There are plenty of incredible Black scientists with underappreciated research, so this is an opportunity to shine a light on some new “hidden figures”.
There are many resources available for teachers who want worksheets and quizzes focused on Black History Month, or you can have a go at creating your own.
These quizzes can add fun to the classroom (plus, a little bit of competition). Finish the month with a quiz testing the students on what they’ve learned!
Or you can try starting each day with a trivia question. This is a great opportunity to get kids engaged in the morning and to easily incorporate Black history into your teaching.
Ask your students to research an event from Black history, and report on it as if it’s a contemporary event.
Bring in examples of news articles written during the Civil Rights movement, and discuss how the newspaper approaches the subject. Where do they succeed? And where can we see the biases of the people writing the news story?
You can also take a look at contemporary news stories covering the Black Lives Matters protests. How do they approach the subject?
It’s fun to teach students about the exciting figures from Black history, but this should also be a time to reflect on our current attitudes and behaviors.
Black History Month is a good time to raise thoughtful discussions on the importance of tolerance, what equality means, and what diversity adds to our society.
These discussions can be difficult to bring up, especially as they deal with heavy subjects. But by starting the conversation now, you can help your students grow into empathetic and tolerant individuals.
Lois Mailou Jones is a difficult artist to pin down! Associated with the Harlem Renaissance, her art style changed and evolved throughout the years as she uncovered new influences.
Drawing inspiration from her extensive travels, Jones’ work celebrated her African roots and American ancestry.
As Lois Mailou Jones worked with so many styles, this is an opportunity to get the students to experiment. Ask them to research their favorite Jones painting, and create something inspired by her style.
Stepping is an energetic dance style that was developed by African American fraternities and sororities. The dance uses the body as an instrument, creating complex rhythmic beats and sounds, sometimes combined with spoken word.
Step Afrika is an unbeatable resource for learning about stepping. Watch videos of the troupe in action, and try to recreate some of their movements in the classroom.
You can supplement this by creating a playlist of inspiring Black musicians, to act as a backdrop while you have a go at stepping!
Black History Month is just 28 days of the year (or 29, during a leap year) but Black history is an integral part of American history.
Avoid confining Black voices and Black perspectives to February, and make an effort to celebrate diverse cultures throughout the year.
Promote diversity in the classroom by giving everyone space to speak and share their opinions. Throughout the year, make sure your classroom projects celebrate figures from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Don’t leave Black artists, authors, scientists, and historical figures in Black History Month!
Although Black history needs to be part of the classroom discussion throughout the year, Black History Month is the perfect time to prioritize these conversations.
These projects help bring Black history to life, encouraging students to think about how Black history and American history intersect, and how important equality is to our society.
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