Honoring Black History in the Classroom
Black history is American history.
A culturally responsive curriculum that integrates the stories of history-making Black Americans is essential for students of all backgrounds. Teaching Black history works to affirm the identities and experiences of Black students, and honest, accurate, and age-appropriate resources for all children can provide a foundation of empathy and cultural literacy that can prepare them to be active participants in a diverse democracy.
Race and racism can be difficult subjects to talk about, especially with young children. And at a time when school closures are contributing to even greater educational inequity, particularly for students of color, creating a safer, more inclusive and culturally responsive curriculum is as important as it’s ever been. See our blog post Helping Kids Understanding the Black Lives Movement for advice from experts on how to talk about race and racial identity.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a collection of resources from BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. These lessons, including biographies of barrier-breaking civil rights activists, artists, and more offer vital context for the progress this country has seen and, as 2020 laid bare, all the progress that’s yet to come.
The following topics can support you in integrating Black history and antiracist education into your teaching both during Black History Month and all year long.
For Kindergarten–Grade 3
People to Know
Biographies are an effective and engaging way to explore history. Everyone loves stories, and biographies provide students with opportunities to relate to and empathize with people whose experiences shaped history.
He had a dream! Watch to discover what it was and how this Civil Rights leader paved the way for generations to come.
Imagine the bravery it took to integrate an all-white school. That’s just what this young activist did when she was only 6 years old!
Discover the story of this courageous activist who sat down in order to stand up for equal rights.
Learn about this courageous abolitionist’s life and her work on the Underground Railroad.
Explore the story of a barrier-breaking ballplayer who brought his message of equality to America.
Learn how Eloise Greenfield uses rhythm to make her poems and stories come alive.
For Grades 4 and Up
The History of Institutionalized Racism in America
There is much about U.S. history that is challenging to talk about, especially with children. However, it’s crucial that we provide an accurate picture that takes into account people of different backgrounds and experiences. With these topics, kids can explore historical events and time periods that changed the course of history for African Americans.
Activism Then and Now
For as long as institutionalized racism and anti-Blackness have existed, people have been organizing and fighting for freedom, justice, and equality. Building background about these movements provides kids with context for understanding why and how people continue to work tirelessly for these rights.
People to Know
First-hand accounts have the power to bring history to life and are an effective way to authentically and meaningfully connect to history. Many topics in our Black History collection include access to primary sources as part of BrainPOP’s Primary Source feature. These resources range from newspaper clippings and essays to photographs and archival videos, like this one of Maya Angelou reciting a poem at the 1993 U.S. Presidential inauguration:
Looking to build a full lesson on one of these topics? You can find lesson plans and other teaching resources for each topic on BrainPOP and BrainPOP Jr. by clicking the “Lesson Ideas” button at the top of any topic page.
When children actively participate in a lesson and exercise their creativity, they’re more likely to stay engaged and internalize what they’ve learned. Students can create their own short films with our Make-a-Movie feature, code a museum exhibit in honor of their favorite figure from Black history with Creative Coding, and more.