12 Powerful Black History Month Activities To Engage Students

12 Powerful Black History Month Activities to Engage Students

Each February, we observe Black History Month to remember important people and events in Black history. Black history relates to all citizens and our shared backgrounds as Americans. Flocabulary has engaging hip-hop-infused Black History Month activities that are rigorous yet fun for students. Use these activities, songs, and videos to honor Black history in your curriculum—not just for the month but all year long.

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12 Powerful Black History Month Activities to Engage Students

1. Amplify student voice with a rap contest

Student voice and authentic learning experiences are at the core of Flocabulary. Every February, we host a student rap contest in honor of Black History Month. Students will select a significant Black historical figure to write a rap about. The winning students will have their lyrics turned into a Flocab video lesson, be featured in the video for classes nationwide to see, and sit in with our writers, rappers, and editors to get an inside look into the video creation process! This contest is the perfect opportunity to empower student voices and to have them see themselves in what they’re learning. Check out past student winners and their Black History Month songs, or click below to watch their videos.

John Lewis lesson for Grades 6 to 12
Fannie Lou Hamer lesson for Grades 5 to 12
Emmett Till lesson for Grades 8 to 12
Louis Armstrong lesson for Grades 4 to 12

Teachers can submit on behalf of students and don’t need a Flocabulary account to enter. However, with Flocabulary’s Lyric Lab, students can seamlessly create their own rap in minutes.

The contest opens on February 1st, and submissions close on February 29th. Click below to learn more!

Ruby Bridges & Bravery Black History Month video

2. Write from Ruby Bridges’ point of view

In 1960, six-year-old Ruby Bridges changed history by becoming the first black child to desegregate an all-white elementary school by herself. Watch our video about Ruby Bridges, which tells the story of how she overcame many obstacles to integrate into William Frantz Elementary School, showing great courage in the face of discrimination.

Then, use this lesson plan to have students write a page from Ruby’s journal from her perspective and compare and contrast Ruby’s story told from first and third-person points of view. Flocabulary’s famous Point of View video is a great resource to use if you’re interested in Black History Month activities. Through this assignment, students will learn how Ruby Bridges changed history and discuss her courage and determination in facing obstacles.

3. Assign students to write a rap/poem about their dream

Martin Luther King Jr. & Leadership video

Teach students about the major events in the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with our lesson video. Students will learn about King’s biography, including the segregation that he and the Black community faced, his work as a minister, and his role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Civil Rights Movement. The video also shows King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

After watching the video, assign students the rest of the activities in the lesson sequence. Flocabulary’s lesson sequence follows Bloom’s Taxonomy. Accomplish the final level for “create” by using Lyric Lab. Students can listen to and read MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech, then write original raps about their own dreams for the world using quotations from King’s speech and their own figurative language.

"I Have a Dream" speech analysis and figurative language worksheet for Black History Month

4. Analyze Dr.King’s “I Have a Dream” speech

As mentioned previously, Flocabulary’s MLK video describes his commitment to nonviolent means of protesting and features clips from the “I Have a Dream” speech given at the March on Washington. You can pair this video in multiple ways for your Black History Month activities. For example, you can use our “I Have a Dream” Speech Analysis Lesson Plan to have students review literary terms, rhetorical devices, and figurative language with a scavenger hunt throughout the speech. Then, you can have students discuss or write about the speech using literary terminology.

Langston Hughes’ “Harlem" Poem Black History Month activities

5. Teach poetry through Langston Hughes’ “Harlem”

Introduce students to “Harlem,” the Langston Hughes poem that gave Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun its name, using Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” video and lesson. Students will analyze the social context and figurative language that made the poem so powerful.

After reviewing the lesson and analyzing the poem, students will also write their own poems inspired by “Harlem.” Use the printable worksheet in our lesson to assign these Black History Month activities to your students.

6. Explore perspectives on race

What is race? How does it affect different people every day? In this video, four Flocabulary rappers share their perspectives on race. Students will learn that even though race isn’t in our genes, it has a powerful effect on people and society. When teaching Black History Month activities and topics, it’s important to embed social and emotional learning teachings into this instruction. The major takeaway is not to let anyone define you based on appearances and not to define others that way either.

7. Have students write and perform a skit or rap on the Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder

A constitutional amendment granted African Americans the right to vote in 1870. However, the promise of that amendment would not be realized for decades. It would take a group of dedicated organizers in Selma, Alabama, to plan a series of marches before that important right was protected by the Voting Rights Act. This Black History video about the Voting Rights Act & Selma March explains the importance of the Selma marches, why the Voting Rights Act was needed, and what voting rights look like in our country today.

Voting Rights Act

After studying the Selma March and the case of Shelby County v. Holder, use this lesson plan to have students discuss how current events can be seen as examples of continuity and change with regard to voting rights. Have students write and perform a rap or skit that depicts the Supreme Court case in its historical context.

8. Teach about Maya Angelou and figurative language using the Vocab Game

Maya Angelou and Resilience Vocab Game for Black History Month

This video lesson introduces students to Maya Angelou, describing her extraordinary life and the significance of her work. Students will analyze Angelou’s trademark use of figurative language and vivid imagery in her poems and memoirs.

Vocab Game, which is the third part of Flocab’s lesson sequence, can be used to teach figurative language. In this drag and drop activity, students match the lesson’s vocabulary words, including figure language terms, to images or definitions, complete sentences, or find synonyms to build a beat.

9. Have a classroom discussion about The Tuskegee Airmen

Black History Month song about The Tuskegee Airmen with Discuss Mode

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first Black American military pilots. In this lesson, students will learn about the Tuskegee Airmen’s contributions during World War II and how their valiant efforts paved the way for desegregating the military and American society.

Turn on Discuss Mode in the video lesson to have meaningful classroom discussions. Prompts will appear at specific points during the video and pause to facilitate further discussion and exploration of the Tuskegee Airmen.

10. Have students teach the Civil Rights Movement

The fight for civil rights was the fight for equality. In this song, witness Martin Luther King Jr. use the most powerful weapon of all: words. The Civil Rights song covers the passing of the Civil Rights Bill, the Voting Rights Act, and Brown v. Board of Education. But MLK couldn’t always keep the peace, and the song also covers some of the more violent moments in the fight for civil rights, including the assassinations of JFK and Malcolm X.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

After watching the Civil Rights Movement video, assign or have students pick an event from the Civil Rights Movement to create their own lesson about. Have them teach about the topic to the class – they can even use Flocabulary as a teaching tool! This will deepen students’ understanding of key events in Black history while building their skills in interpreting and explaining events in a style that’s appropriate to a certain audience.

Match Flocabulary lyrics to Black historical figures worksheet

11. Match Flocabulary lyrics to Black historical figures

With Flocabulary’s catchy songs, students will remember specific facts and lyrics about historical figures and events. After reviewing songs and videos about different historical Black figures, have students read the lyrics of the songs and write the name of the historical figure the lyric is about. Download these Black History Month activities and print this worksheet to test out students’ memory and knowledge!

12. Explore all of Flocabulary’s Black history videos and activities

There are even more Black History Month activities and lesson videos to choose from! Flocabulary’s video-based lessons create emotional connections by harnessing the power of music, storytelling, and poetry. These high-quality videos captivate students and make the learning experience memorable and interesting. Click below to explore more lessons you can teach for Black History Month.

Historical Figures lessons

Start using these Black History Month activities

We’re so excited to see you put these activities and videos to use in your classroom to celebrate Black History Month. Flocabulary has engaging hip-hop standards-aligned videos and lessons you can use for all K-12 Subjects. These lessons not only deliver rigorous and relevant learning experiences, they also authentically and actively engage students. If you’re interested in exploring more resources for Black History Month, read our Racial Justice Resource Guide. Happy Black History Month!

New to Flocabulary? Teachers can sign up for a trial to access our lesson videos and assessment activities. Administrators can get in touch with us to learn more about unlocking the full power of Flocabulary through Flocabulary Plus.