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Four Favorites for Black History Month

By Christy Crawford on January 26, 2012
  • Grades: 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

Feeling the February scramble — the mad dash for the best Black History Web sites, books, and movies? Or are you bombarded by colleagues searching for Black History teaching tools? Read on for five treasured resources, some old favorites, and some fresh faces, that will have kids and adults of any culture begging for more!




1. The Story of Stagecoach Mary Fields by Robert Miller

Miller’s tale about a rough and tough heroine who could not be stopped by the Wild West will inspire your students to write their own historical fiction.

Feeling tech savvy? Use chroma-key (a green screen) to transport your young historical fiction writers to Montana in the 1800s as they read their own tales of Stagecoach Mary. (See Angela Bunyi’s post "Easy Moviemaking With a Green Screen" for more information on using chroma-key.) 
For more real-life black heroes of the Wild West, check out Miller’s Reflections of a Black Cowboy.




2. Slavery and the Underground Railroad

How do you get digital natives fully vested in the study of American slavery? Blast Scholastic's The Underground Railroad offerings on your interactive whiteboard. Turn out the lights and have your students listen to real accounts from young and old African Americans of their lives on the plantation and of their heroic escapes. Have students complete a coded letter for the Underground Railroad or partake in a Harriet Tubman Web Hunt


Need something tactile? Velma Maia Thomas' tastefully designed interactive book from the Black Holocaust Exhibit, Lest We Forget: The Passage From Africa to Slavery and Emancipation, will enable children to “hold in their hands an authentic receipt for a woman sold into slavery” or “slide the lid off a tobacco tin and remove the treasure within — a former slave’s freedom papers.” This book is sure to be the most tattered and torn, and, yet, the most appreciated book in your classroom library.





3. George Crum and the Saratoga Chip by Gaylia Taylor 

Love potato chips? Thank African-American chef George Crum! Gather students on the rug for George Crum and the Saratoga Chip, Taylor’s inspiring story of invention and innovation, or split older students into teams to gather facts about the chip inventor. Have students return to the rug to share their discoveries. If your school has an oven, check out this baked chip recipe for a fabulously festive way to honor Chef Crum. 
Feeling tech savvy? Have kids write, shoot, and edit their own chip cooking show in honor of Chef Crum. (See my post "Flip Movies Easy Enough for a 1st Grader to Complete" for an excerpt from a typical kiddie cooking show.)




4. Red Tails

Bust out the popcorn and the field trip notices! The New York Times calls Red Tails “a live-action comic book.” Mix Star Wars-creator George Lucas with Tuskegee Airmen (unstoppable World War II fighter pilots), and you’ve got a movie that will capture the attention of even the most apathetic teenage boy. After your PG-13 movie outing, send students to research these real-life heroes and present their findings in a Microsoft PowerPoint, Keynote, or Prezi presentation. Check out my post "Digital Poetry — Make Words Zoom and Fly Across the Room" for more information on Prezi. 
Watch the Red Tails trailer now. Your kids will love playing the Red Tails flight simulator game or checking out maps, manuals, and quick sound bites from real life heroes at the virtual airfield base.
Take February from flat to fabulous by offering students historical resources that highlight a variety of fresh faces or unsung heroes. Resources that entertain will ensure further historical study throughout the year. 
What are you doing for Black History Month? Share your favorite resources here.  

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