The Civil Rights movement is one of the most important movements in American History. Conversations about racial equality can be had about momentous changemakers such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jackie Robinson.
Read on to learn about 20 engaging activities for middle schoolers about Civil Rights!
1. Jackie Robinson Baseball Card
Celebrate Jackie Robinson’s legacy as the first African American player to join Major League Baseball by creating an honorary baseball card. Students can research Robinson and fill their cards with Civil Rights facts.
Learn More: Education
2. Competing Voices in the Civil Rights Movement
In this curated lesson plan, students compare the approaches of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Nonviolence and separatism were two ideas proposed by these Civil Rights pioneers. Students will examine the differences in approaches between these two leaders.
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3. Using Primary Sources
In this activity, students use primary sources to identify values and issues occurring during the Civil Rights Movement. This activity asks students to take a deeper look at many major documents and landmark cases during the Civil Rights Movement. This is a great addition to a Middle School Civics course.
Learn More: Library of Congress
4. Civil Rights Puzzle
Students can interact with primary sources from the Civil Rights movement in this activity. Images such as the one of President Johnson are scrambled online and students solve to make one cohesive image in a jigsaw puzzle.
Learn More: Neo K12
5. Civil Rights Trivia
Students can learn about the historical time period by answering trivia questions! This activity would be best implemented at the end of the unit. Students can express their understanding of key people of the time period.
Learn More: Fact Monster
6. We The People Netflix Series
Created in 2021, this Netflix series brings Civil Rights issues to life through song and animation. These videos encourage the participation of youth in government. Students can watch these videos and write about their key takeaways or even draw a piece of art to accompany the video that resonated most with them!
Learn More: Netflix
7. Story Mapping Activity
In this activity, students place different historical events related to the Civil Rights movement in order to create context around which events lead to which. Some events include Jim Crow laws and Rosa Parks’ momentous bus ride protest.
Learn More: Primary Sources
8. Civil Rights Act of 1964 Video
Students can learn about the monumental law that made changes in racial discrimination in the United States. This video is excellent for students of all ages and discusses many of the key concepts that influenced the creation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Learn More: Kids Academy
9. Brown V. Board of Education Video
In this video, students learn about the events that lead up to the landmark Supreme Court Case, Brown V. Board of Education. Students can write a response following watching this video about their big takeaways and how this case changed the course of the Civil Rights Movement.
Learn More: State Bar of Georgia
10. Song and Civil Rights
Students will love learning about how music impacted the Civil Rights Movement and helped build morale and community. Many African Americans used music as a way to bring people together. Students can read this fascinating article and answer the quiz questions to follow.
Learn More: Newsela
11. Armstead Robinson Podcast
Armstead Robinson was a Civil Rights Activist and an important changemaker. Students can learn more about Robinson by listening to the podcast recorded in his honor following his death.
Learn More: Black Fire at UVA
12. Stokely Carmichael Video
Stokely Carmichael was a Civil Rights Pioneer and helped fight for Black Power. Students can watch this video of his biography and then have a whole class discussion about the changes Carmichael fought for.
Learn More: Akhase Organization
13. Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement
In this article, students can read about lesser-known Civil Rights activists such as Diane Nash, a female Voting Rights Activist. After reading this article, have students take the quiz and have a whole class discussion on these changemakers.
Learn More: Newsela
14. Brainpop Civil Rights Activities
In this series of activities, students can interact with content to better understand Civil Rights events. Students can watch a short video, complete a graphic organizer, and play games to help them with Civil Rights vocabulary.
Learn More: Brain Pop
15. I Have A Dream Activity
Students can show their takeaways and appreciation for Martin Luther King Jr.‘s “I Have A Dream” speech in this hands-on activity. This speech is one of the most important Civil Rights Events. This collage is a great way to celebrate Civil Rights History.
Learn More: Study All Knight
16. Loving VS Virginia
This chapter book encapsulates to young readers the struggle Black People faced when trying to marry White People. This secondary source showcases the challenges Black Americans have faced throughout US History. This would make a great small group or book club read for middle schoolers.
Learn More: Commonsense Media
17. Civil Rights Poster
In this activity, students connect the Civil Rights Movement to issues that resonate with them and are still relevant in their own lives. This is a great way to teach students about Civil Rights leaders while encouraging them to stand up for what they believe in. At the end of the lesson, students can create posters to represent their causes.
Learn More: NGA
18. Jim Crow Laws Reading
This reading was designed for kids to help them understand the challenging laws that took place during Jim Crow. This article breaks down important primary documents so students can better understand the time period. Students can then take a quiz to show understanding.
Learn More: Ducksters
19. Mississippi Civil Rights Article
Students can read all about the key events in the Mississippi Civil Rights movement and how the participation of youth allowed for change. Students can read this article and then have a whole class discussion on how students today can make a change!
Learn More: New Yorker
20. Letter to the President
In this activity, students watch a video about the 1965 Voting Rights Act and discuss different perspectives. Then, students become voting rights activists by writing letters to a future president about changes they would want to see. This is a great Middle School Civics Lesson.
Learn More: KQ ED