Black History Projects for Elementary Students

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Learning about black history is important for all students regardless of their racial identity. This lesson gives you some ideas for black history projects you can do with elementary students.

Why Black History Projects

Too often, elementary schools overlook black history or minimize its inclusion in a social studies curriculum. Yet black history is central to U.S. history overall, and by studying black history, students can internalize important concepts in the development of this country.

Furthermore, studying black history can make a real difference in battling racism and empowering students to feel strong regardless of their racial identity. This lesson gives you some ideas for projects you can use to study black history with students in grades K-5.

Project-based learning is a great way to engage students with various learning styles and to ensure that students have the opportunity to bring their learning to life. Projects are also a great way to emphasize collaboration and give students a chance to stay with a particular set of ideas or skills over a course of time.

Profile a Hero

For this project, you will want to supply your students with a list of heroes from black history to choose from. Your list can include heroes students probably already know about, like Martin Luther King, Jr., but you should also make an effort to include lesser known heroes.

Make sure your list includes women as well as men, and try to have heroes from different socioeconomic background. Let each student or small group of students choose one person to become an expert on. Supply your students with a list of questions they are responsible to research:

  • Where did this person grow up? What was their childhood like?
  • What kind of education did this person receive?
  • What did this person do to make a mark on history? What inspired them to do this, and what obstacles did they face?
  • What else is important for others to learn about this person?

Once students have researched these questions, choose a way to have them present their findings to the class. Presentations might be:

  • Digital presentations, using a program like Powerpoint or Presi
  • Sculptures or painted portraits with written captions
  • Written reports

Have a gallery of black history hero presentations that you can also invite parents or others in your school community to visit.

Dramatizing Black History

One great way to engage students in learning about black history is to help them dramatize particularly important moments from black history. To do this, you will want to zero in on an aspect of history that you believe translates well into the dramatic arts. For instance, you could choose:

  • Dr. King's 'I Have a Dream' Speech
  • a scene from Ruby Bridge's childhood life in school
  • something from the Montgomery, AL bus boycotts.

If your scene includes violence or challenging material, think carefully about how you will present this to students.

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