Every February, Americans recognize the invaluable contributions made by generations of African Americans — and the many challenges and tragedies the community has faced along the way. This is a great opportunity for everyone to celebrate and remember the profound contributions Black people made throughout U.S. history, from the abolitionist movement to the Harlem Renaissance.
Meanwhile, others are forced to open their eyes to the huge social and economic disparities that have existed for years — and the ongoing fight to overcome these. While this should be a year-round priority, many advocates credit Black History Month with boosting both awareness and action.
To celebrate Black History Month, Cardboard Cutout Standees will be running a Save 10%, Give 10% promotion throughout the month of February to benefit the Page Education Foundation.
From the Page Education Foundation‘s website: “The Foundation’s goal is to encourage, motivate, and assist Minnesota’s students of color in the pursuit of post-secondary education, and, in the process, change the future. The Foundation achieves that goal by doing two things. First, by providing financial assistance to students pursuing post-secondary education. Second, and most important, by requiring its Page Scholars to work with young children, kindergarten through eighth grade, specifically in the area of education.”
From February 1-February 28, use the code BHM10 at checkout to save 10% on your order, and we will donate an additional 10% of your order to the Page Education Foundation. We need your help to beat last year’s donation of $674.70!
About Black History Month
Proposed by educators in the late 60s and early 70s, Black History Month has since been nationally recognized, not only in local classrooms but also at the federal level. Today, it remains a vital educational opportunity, particularly as students gain a more nuanced understanding of the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. It’s also an important opportunity for paying homage to historic and modern Black culture.
Teachers use this month to incorporate important African American figures and events into their lesson plans and showcase the community’s rich culture, art, and heritage through classroom decor. Elementary students receive an introduction to Black history, while middle and high school students have new opportunities to think deeply about the historic events that have shaped our nation — and continue to impact us to this day.
Top Black History Month Project Ideas
As a teacher or educational professional, you recognize the importance of Black History Month but may struggle to build it into your classroom. Worksheets just don’t do this important month justice. Rather, you’ll want to immerse your students in captivating lessons about Black authors, in-depth research projects, or history resources such as videos and podcasts.
With a few simple adjustments, you can call extra attention to important topics as you craft resonant Black History Month activities and lesson plans. To that end, we’ve provided several targeted suggestions to help you and your students celebrate Black History Month.
Don’t underestimate the power of the classic bulletin board. Through daily exposure to a vibrant display, students can learn a lot about the most impactful figures and events within African American culture. You’re welcome to keep the same display up all month, but students will learn even more if you change things up on a weekly basis.
When in doubt, keep it simple with “Black History Month” in a bold headline, as well as images depicting several important figures in African American history. The recognizable faces of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Barack Obama, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks come to mind, of course, but it’s also important to broaden students’ horizons with inventors, artists, and other historical figures they might not recognize. Examples include:
- Zora Neal Hurston
- Jackie Robinson
- Serena Williams
- Shirley Chisolm
- Jesse Owens
- Nina Simone
- Kobe Bryan
- Maya Angelou
- Thurgood Marshall
- Kamala Harris
- Carter G. Woodson
- Alvin Ailey
- James Baldwin
- Rose Marie McCoy
In addition to these images, don’t hesitate to provide quotes, statistics, or even graphs to get students thinking. Better yet, encourage students to create the ultimate Black History Month bulletin board — or their own poster boards to display around the classroom. Cardboard cutouts can also be used to emphasize a particular person or event alongside your bulletin board.
Perfect for younger students but still enjoyable for preteens and even teens, picture books bring important stories to life. Many describe history’s most impactful events, while others make biographic coverage more interesting. Many draw attention to forgotten, yet important figures who have made a huge difference. Children’s books to read during Black History Month include:
- Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine
- Trailblazer by Leda Schubert
- Muddy by Michael Mahin
- Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed
How well do students absorb your Black History Month lessons? Instead of conventional quizzes or tests, why not make the lesson interactive with trivia games? These encourage students to team up and work together.
Begin the month with a quick trivia game to demonstrate just how little students know about Black history — and follow with another round at the end of the month to reveal how much they’ve learned. Add fun touches like buzzers and prizes to make trivia feel more like a game and less like a disguised version of the dreaded test.
All students should read books about Black history. Beyond this, written reflection encourages them to think deeply about their own biases and lack of knowledge. This may not be easy, but it could deliver the most impactful takeaways of the entire month. Provide a list of excellent reads and allow each student to choose a favorite. Once completed, they should write in-depth reports that go beyond simple summaries to explore the true meaning within each book — and the ways these reads are relevant to students’ lives. Lend a helping hand with thought-provoking writing prompts.
Many wonderful PBS documentaries and blockbuster movies bring Black history to life. Students can watch these in class or on their own; either way, they should reflect on these movies and the messages they offer about Black history. Encourage students to share their genuine opinions about these films, provided in the form of personal movie reviews. These may compare movie depictions with the historical facts outlined in scholarly resources or students’ textbooks.
Before you encourage students to watch movies, verify that the information they contain is accurate. Many of today’s most popular biopics take creative license — and while this can result in a compelling story, it won’t necessarily be 100 percent accurate. That’s okay, as long as students are well aware of what’s real and what’s for show.
Incorporate Cutouts and Decals in Black History Month Decor
If you’re ready to up the ante for Black History Month, be sure to add cardboard cutouts to the mix. Cardboard Cutout Standees offers a variety of decorative elements that you can customize as you see fit. These include not only life-sized cardboard cutouts and BigHeads but also, decals and murals. Upload an image today to get started, or contact us to learn more.