Favorite Find – Black History Month Lesson Plans

Hello! Erin here. 

I stumbled upon these AWESOME lesson plans when I was visitng the official Black History Month website at AfricanAmericanHistoryMonth.gov. This collection of lesson plans was featured in the “For Teachers” section of the website, so I decided to peruse them. These lesson plans are from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. These are great for teaching music, poetry or history any time of the year, but they are an especially engaging way to bring standards-based content about Black History Month into your classroom. The best thing about these is that they are all created by teachers who are in the classroom every day!

“Love Is the Thing to Make It Fall”: African-American Music in Alabama before and during the Civil Rights Movement
For grades 3-5
This set of lessons is an introduction to African-American music in Alabama through children’s songs of the 1950s as well as freedom songs of the 1960s. In addition to attentive listening, students will sing, play instrucments, imrpovise, move and play games. 

Singing for Justice: Following the Muscial Journey of “This Little Light of Mine”
For grades 4-8
Students will learn the history behind “This Little Light of Mine,” following the song thruogh slavery, the civil rights movement and up to its current day applications. Students will also learn to sing the song itself in multiple languages and will be prompted to write about their learning experiences after each session. At the end, there will be an opportunity for students to add their own verses to the song, based on the writing they did through each portion of the lesson. 

Songs, Sounds and Stories form the Georgia Sea Islands
For grades K-12
Learn about the Gullah culture in the United States. Utilize polyrythms and call-and-response, critical listening and language skills, muscal play, vocal improvisation, and the 12-bar blues. Discover the righ traditions of the Gullah culture that have helped to shape our American musical culture today. This is mean for use in a wide range of classrooms and grade levels. 

Protest Songs: A Muscial Introduction

For grades 6-8
Through singing and listening to famous protest songs, students will learn to discuss the muscal significance as well as the social and historical context of these songs. 

The Vocal Blues: Created in the Deep South of the U.S.
For grades 6-12
Learning 12-bar blues form through singing and theory provides students a medium for discussion of the blues. Students will have the opportunity to write and perform their own 12-bar Blues verses. 

The Birth of an Icon: Learning and Performing the Origins of the Drum Set and Early Jazz Drumming in New Orleans, Louisiana
For grades 5-12
This lesson provides an intorduction to drum set history and teaches students to perform preliminary New Orleans brass band and early jazz drumming rhythms. 

Blending African and Irish Sensibilities in Virginia’s Music
For grades 3-8
As early as the 1700’s enslaved Africans and Irish immigrants residing in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia lived in close proximity. During this time, a unique blend of both groups’ cultures took place in a way that greatly impacted music. This unit features listening and movement, as well as activitiesto explore and respond to this music tradition. 

Hootenanny, Hootin’ Annie, Will You Dance with Me? Music of the American Folk Music Revival
For grades 3-6
This lesson introduces students to the music of the American Folk revial that developed between the 1940s and 1960s with notable figures such as Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Jean Ritchie, Paul Robeson, and many others. The point of this lesson is to acvitely engage students with some of the music, allow them to understand the movement’s underlying values of inclusion and peace, and to reveal some of the cultural influences on this musical movement, ranging from African American spirituals to chinese folk songs. Students will engage in a number of activities from singing and clapping to contra dancing. 

Having Our Say: The Music of the Mardi Gras Indians
For all grades
This unit introduces students to the culture and music of Mardi Gras Indians, an importnat African American phenomenon that takes place in New Orleans. Students will examine the tradition and its culture-bearers, listen to and analyze Mari Gras Indian music and ezamine the multiple cultural influences that have contributed to the tradition. Students will gain experience in listening, movement and performance, which will enrich their sense of the musical and cultural complexity of this phenomenon. 


Posted February 19, 2020
Topics: The ArtsAfrican American History

Subscribe to Our Blogs