The Journey to Civil Rights
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
About this book
- Explore details of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Research and discuss significant historical figures and events of the Civil Rights Movement.
- Sequence these significant events into a timeline.
- Learn two new vocabulary terms segregation and supremacy.
- Write a five sentence paragraph describing the events found on their Civil Rights Timeline.
- I use the following book in this lesson. It can be found in the
Teacher's Store or you may substitute your own title about a significant
event during the Civil Rights Movement. The
Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles, illustrated by
George C Ford
- Chart paper
- Butcher Paper
- Colored Pencils, crayons
- 5 sheets of poster board
- Glue Sticks
- A timeline to model
- Timeline Graphic Organizer
- Internet Access
- A variety of books to use for research about the Civil Rights Movement.
See my booklist for suggestions.
Set Up and Prepare
- Find a timeline that shows dates, pictures/photographs, and events
for Day 2. For more creative timeline ideas, check out Super
Social Studies! Quick & Easy Activities, Games, and Manipulatives
by Camille Cooper, Shirley Lee, Liz Van Tine, Barbara White
- Copy five Timeline Graphic Organizer printables, one per group.
- Divide students in five groups for research and timeline activities.
- Schedule computer time for each group for 2 days.
- Find a few child-friendly websites that will help the students
discover information and photos about the following 5 Civil Rights
- Using five index cards, write one of the following dates/events
and a corresponding website on each card. Each group will use the
index card for research purposes on Days 2-3.
- 1954 - Brown v. Board of Education
- 1955 - Montgomery Bus Boycott
- 1963 - March on Washington
- 1965 - Voting Rights Act
- 1968 - Martin Luther King, Jr. - Assassinated
Step 1: Assess prior knowledge and ask students what we celebrate during the month of February? (Black History Month) Encourage students to think of various activities which are held throughout the school, city and country. Why do we celebrate Black History Month? Explain to students that over the next few days, they will study an important era in Black History that will help them to better understand and appreciate historical events that helped shape our country's future. Write the word segregation on the board. Have the class say and spell the word. Define the word segregation - an attempt to separate and isolate the races in every area of life and achieve supremacy. Have the class read the word and definition. Next, circle the word supremacy and write it under the definition for segregation. Define supremacy - supreme authority or power.
Step 2: Help students recall both the snowflake and similarities/differences activities completed during Lesson One. Briefly discuss the Rosa Parks biography which was read during the lesson. Rosa Parks was told to move from her seat on the bus because of the color of her skin. Her rights as an individual were not respected. This was an example of segregation. People who were not respectful wanted to keep blacks and whites separated.
Step 3: Introduce The Story of Ruby Bridges and explain to students that today they will listen to a story about a little girl who played a very important role in the civil rights movement. To help students grasp the concept of segregation, provide additional examples. Suggestion: Imagine that you and a friend have planned a special Saturday afternoon at your favorite video arcade. As you arrive at the entrance, you are told that ONLY children who have brown hair and brown eyes are allowed inside. You happen to have black hair and brown eyes, therefore you cannot play inside. This would be considered segregation - someone is separating you and keeping you from doing what you would like to do because of the color of your hair and eyes. How would you feel? Ask the students if they have any other examples to share.
Step 4: Read The Story of Ruby Bridges. Periodically stop and ask the following questions while reading: How do you think Ruby felt the night before starting her new school?
Do you think it was fair that Black and White children had to attend separate schools?
If you were Ruby Bridges, would you have been as brave? Why or Why not? What would schools be like today if Ruby Bridges never existed?
Share with the students that they will be learning about more important figures from the Civil Rights Movement throughout the week.
Day 2 - Research
Step 1: Explain to students that today they will begin to research important facts and people associated with the Civil Rights Movement. They will work in a small group to create a Civil Rights Movement timeline. Show the timeline you chose as a model and point out the purpose. Point out the dates, events, and pictures displayed. Share brief information and the date about each of the 5 Civil Rights events they will be researching.
Step 2: Display the Timeline printable. Inform students that this provides them with a framework to use while they conduct their research. Distribute the printable and model by writing the dates on your timeline: 1954, 1955, 1963, 1965 and 1968. Be sure to space out each year so that specific dates can be added and information recorded.
Step 3: Distribute an index card to each group with pre-selected dates/events and websites to research for timelines. Also remind them that all information gathered during research should be recorded on the Timeline printable to help create the final product.
Step 4: Let each group begin their research according to your computer schedule. Encourage students to also search for graphics which can be printed to cut and paste onto their timelines. Photos should relate to the captions that will be included on the timelines.
Day 3 - Continue to Research
Step 1: While a group works in the computer center, encourage other groups to continue their research using the books you have provided. See booklist for suggestions. Give a brief "book talk" about the information students will find in each book.
Step 1: Once all groups have completed the research phase, allow students to design their group timeline. Remind them to include the organization, dates, events, photos, and other creative additions. Encourage students to work together as a team, assigning tasks to each member to work efficiently.
Day 6 - Paragraph
Step 1: Help students conclude their research project by having them write a five sentence paragraph describing the events and people included in their group timeline. Using chart paper, model the beginning of the paragraph as students follow along, allowing them to complete the paragraph independently.
Step 2: Remind them that a paragraph should begin with a Topic sentence.
Sample: The Civil Rights Movement was an important event in American history.
The next few sentences should provide details of the dates/events included on the timeline.
Sample: On May 17, 1954 the Supreme Court ruled….
Supporting All Learners
Allow students who are having difficulty writing their paragraph to pair with a peer coach.
- Complete Civil Rights Timeline in small group.
- Complete Civil Rights paragraph.
- Were students able to research effectively?
- Were students able to complete their timelines with important historical facts?
as their ability to work cooperatively in their group.