""Success is to be measured not so much by the position
that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which were overcome while
trying to succeed. . . ."
--Booker T. Washington
Art and Craft Projects for Black History Month
Black and White Collage
Each person will need one sheet of black construction paper, one sheet of
white, one brightly colored sheet, and glue.
Tear black and white sheets into small pieces (> 1/2" square). Paste the
black and white pieces on the brightly colored sheet to create a unique collage.
Some people may choose to create identifiable objects. Others may create
geometric designs or a patterned "quilt."
After all pieces are completed, allow children to show their pictures and
briefly describe. Note that neither the black nor the white alone would have
created an interesting picture, yet the two could be combined into many
interesting patterns. In short, they were more productive working as
a team. Discuss the need for teamwork, whether it be in the home, the classroom,
the workplace or the community at large. What are some tasks that require
You might also pay special attention to the differences between the pieces.
Point out that just as no two pieces are art are alike, no two people are
alike. Each person has a unique purpose in life, and the home, church, community,
and society as a whole are benifitted when each person finds and fulfills
his purpose in life instead of seeking to be "just like" another individual.
Consider the lives of Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Booker T.
Washington, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, and Colin Powell. Each has
significantly influenced not only the African-American community, but all
of American society. What would have happened, however, if any of these
individuals had tried to be "just like" one of their predecessors?
Role Models and Heroes
Based on the previous activity, some might question whether we should have
role models and heroes. Discuss this issue as a family or class. Why can
role models or heroes be a positive influence? Why can role models and heroes
be a negative influence?
Supply each child or student with a sheet of posterboard, scissors, glue,
markers or colored pencils, and materials for research. Ask each one to choose
one role model, then create a poster which bears the person's name and function,
dates of birth and death (if applicabe), drawings or pictures (Remind
children to ask permission before cutting pictures out of books or magazines!)
of the person, a character quality embodied by that person, and three
or more examples of the person demonstrating the chosen character quality.
To add greater critical thinking opportunities to this activity, you might
also ask participants to list three aspects of this person's life which others
should not emulate.
One of the battles in the war to end segregation was the Montgomery Bus Strike.
A young black woman on her way home from work, Rosa Parks, refused to give
up her seat on a city bus to a white man and was promptly arrested.
After Ms. Park's arrest, many African-Americans in Montgomery, Alabama,
led by Dr. King refused to ride the city buses, choosing instead to
walk to work. After the 381-day strike which almost bankrupted the
bus companies, the United States Supreme Court outlawed all segregated public
transportation in the city.
Tell children the story of the bus strike, then give each child a cardboard
milk carton. Open the triangular top of each carton fully to form a rectangle.
Cut down the four corners of the top, stopping at the main portion of the
carton. Cut three of the top's four sides off completely, then fold the fourth
side across the opening and tape to produce a rectangle. Paint boxes yellow.
After paint has dried completely, use markers to draw windows on the bus.
You may wish to illustrate the four stages of the bus strike by drawing in
the windows white people sitting in the front of the first bus while black
people stand in the back, Ms. Parks sitting with the white people in the
second bus while other African-Americans stand in the back, a mostly-empty
third bus with only few white people scattered throughout and a sad driver,
and black and white people sitting together in the fourth bus. Children may
then use their milk carton buses to recount the chronology of the Montgomery
Assign each child or student a time period in American history from the
Revolutionary War to the present day. Using school and/or local libraries
(college/university libraries, if possible) as well as general reference
works, children should research the role of African-Americans in U.S. history
during their assigned time period. After sufficient data has been gathered,
students should chart on a common timeline events of great significance to
African Americans as well as the lifespans of influential African Americans.
Each child should choose at least two people or events from his or her
time-period to illustrate on the timeline. (Illustrations may including original
drawings, paintings, computer-rendered graphics, and/or collages made from
Black History Month Quilt
Similar to the above project, this activity is simpler for younger children.
Purchase or obtain from your local library age-appropriate biographies of
influential African-America including (but not limited to) the following:
Benjamin Banneker, Phyllis Wheatley, Elijah McCoy, Harriet Tubman, Frederick
Douglass, George Washington Carver, Booker T. Washington, Samuel Morris,
Dred Scott, Matthew Henson, Garrett A. Morgan, James Weldon Johnson,
Mary Mcleod Bethune, Marian Anderson, Mahalia Jackson, Martin
Luther King, Jr., and Colin Powell. Let children choose one or more biographies
to read, then encourage them to draw a picture based on one scene from the
life of each person about whom they have read. Mount each picture on a larger
sheet of colored paper, and attach pages to wall to form a quilt of famous
Hand in Hand
Carefully trace around the right hands of several children or students, then
photocopy handprints onto tag board or heavy paper. Each child should receive
Provide children with multi-cultural crayons and ask them to color each handprint
a different skintone. After handprints are colored, students may cut them
out, cutting carefully between each finger and thumb.
Print the phrase "I will love others as myself." for children, then ask children
to define love. Ask children to list ways in which we show love for ourselves.
(We sleep when we are tired. We eat when we are hungry. We go to the doctor
when we get sick. We study hard so that we can get a good job later. We avoid
injury whenever posibble, etc.) Next, ask students to list ways in which
we may love others "as we love ourselves." (We give food to people who are
hungry. We give a warm blanket or a coat to a homeless person on a cold night.
We offer to take people who are sick to the doctor when they cannot drive.
We watch a younger brother or sister so Mom can rest when she is tired. We
are carefull when we play so that we do not hurt others, etc.)
Direct students to copy the phrase onto the handprints, neatly printing one
word on each hand. Students may then put the words in order by linking the
thumb of one hand between the fingers of the next. You might call on each
child to tell one way he or she can love someone else as himself/herself
while children are assembling the handprint chains.
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