Black History Month – Lesson Plans

Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole

To celebrate Black History month in the UK, we here at Webanywhere thought it would be a great idea to help teachers by providing lesson plans around the theme of black history. So below are two ideas for lessons you can lead to help share knowledge about black history:

1. Mary Seacole – KS3

A brilliant example of why Black History month is so important, Mary Seacole was a Jamaican woman who assisted soldiers during the Crimean War, but was seldom talked about prior to more modern curriculums. A great way to start a lesson about Mary Seacole would be to show this video to the class and then discuss what we learn about Mary Seacole and her role in history. Why might she have been ignored?

Once you’ve had a discussion, split the class up into groups and have each group do some research about Mary Seacole and find out what people think about her and what happened; you can find a useful interactive guide to Mary Seacole here for a start. This exercise should help reinforce ideas of how to do independent research, as well as looking at how people can manipulate history to create a narrative. Ask students about how reliable they think their sources are, why some people might hold certain views and encourage critical thinking.

Due to the subject matter and surrounding controversy with this lesson, be sure to do it with older students who are expected to be able to form their own conclusions and not be easily mislead – Mary Seacole has a lot of controversy surrounding her addition to the History curriculum, so some online resources might need to be checked to make sure they’re appropriate. At the end of the lesson, have students write about what Mary Seacole shows us about how people might manipulate resources for their own agendas.

Also, for a bit of fun, Horrible Histories also did a great song if you have some time at the end of lesson.

2. Great Inventors! – KS1 & KS2

There are plenty of notable black inventors & innovators, and what better way to encourage students to learn about them than with a day showing off some of their inventions! The Black Inventor Online Museum has a vast library of information on black inventors. Here are a few activity ideas:

  • George Washington Carver invented over 1,000 uses for the peanut! How many uses can your students think up? Carver’s uses included shampoo, facial cream and even ink! Encourage students to think outside the box when asked to do tasks.
  • Match-up!  Get pictures of each of the inventors (along with their name as a caption) and create some matching invention cards. Then get students to guess who made what, and encourage them to remember the names. This is a simple activity, but it’s a great way to help students remember inventors, and that in itself is a way to help make black figures in history become more commonplace.
  • Lewis Latimer improved on the lightbulb, and invented a version that lasted longer and was safer to use. What other inventions do your pupils think could be improved, and what would be the benefit? Encourage the idea that things can be improved with careful thought.

These lesson ideas should help you broaden the horizons of your pupils, and encourage positive attitudes to viewing and studying black history.

Lesson plans just like this one can be easily made and shared using our Resources App in School Jotter, which acts as a repository for files, quizzes and lessons. Thanks for reading and enjoy Black History Month!

Author: Pano Savvidis