Children should be learning about important figures from black history throughout the year, but February is the time dedicated especially for this. It is important for children to know about other individuals beyond Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream, for example. Use the month of February to celebrate men and women that fought for civil rights in the United States. For those children that may be new to our country, explain some of the history and let them hear how far we have come during this time period.
Share Books and Stories about Civil Rights Heroes
Many authors have written books to tell the stories of civil rights leaders that have pushed for changes in the United States. Talk to teachers to see who they will be covering in their classes. Go to the library and look for new books that continue to be published about the Civil Right movement and individuals within it. Possible book titles to include are:
- The Story of Ruby Bridges – by Robert Coles
- If a Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks – by Faith Ringgold
- Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt – by Deborah Hopkinson
- Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad – by Ellen Levine
Younger children will enjoy learning about individuals and making projects to celebrate these individuals. Check out Pinterest for a wide variety of craft ideas. Take time to go over new vocabulary and practice using the words together. This will help to build speech and language confidence for students when they are able to utilize it withing their regular classroom setting.
We Have a Dream
Children have dreams, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. may be an inspiration for an activity. Everyone will think about how they would continue to work on King’s dream within their school and lives. Everyone will be using an acrostic poem as a frame. Give every child a long piece of construction paper to write I HAVE A DREAM down the length of the paper. Create a model poem to share how this may be done to share with students. Younger children may focus more on dreams of play and family time, while older children may look at what other students need to help them to realize their dreams. When the papers are finished, decorate them to make a beautiful frame with things that represent the dreams.
Poems will be sent home to share. Prepare an information sheet for parents to understand the purpose and tie in with Black History Month. Explain how this encourages students to focus on tolerance, acceptance, and strength in differences among peers. Give discussion starters for families to use that may help them and be sure to be sensitive to multilingual families so they have translations to participate.
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