Civil Rights Movement Worksheets and Activities
We have a number of Civil Rights Movement resources that are currently free! Some of the Civil Rights Movement pdfs include worksheets and activities about the Key Events of the Civil Rights Period, events leading up to the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Plus, explore some challenging terms like Rights, Privileges, Equality, Fairness, Groups, Discrimination, Bias, Prejudice, Stereotypes and more.
I made these Civil Rights worksheets and activities when the kids were younger and wanted to share them with you again today. Many of these are currently free resources!
Key Events of the Civil Rights Period
This is a packet on the main events of the Civil Rights period that I made for the kids to add to their history notebook. I wanted them to have a visual way to remember many of the events we’ve read and studied about over the last four or five weeks. We sat together and went over the key events as we read many of the books in this unit. We’ve read more than 25 books! I’ll list them for you below. The kids were really amazed that the photos were of real events.
- Emmett Till
- Rosa Parks
- Montgomery Bus Boycott
- Little Rock 9: Little Rock Central High School
- Greensboro Sit-Ins
- Ruby Bridges attends a new elementary school
- Civil Rights Act of 1964
- Freedom Rides
- George Wallace, Alabama’s governor gave an inauguration speech: Segregation now! Segregation tomorrow! Segregation forever!
- Letter from a Birmingham Jail
- Birmingham campaign
- Children’s Crusade (Birmingham)
- March on Washington
- Birmingham Bombing
- JFK killed
- Martin Luther King, Jr. given the Nobel Prize
- Voting Rights Act
- Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated
- Civil Rights Act of 1968
You can download this packet for free. It is eight pages long. If you find it useful, I’d love to hear from you! ? Liesl
Civil Rights Unit Notebook Pages:
The packet has a worksheet to match some of the photos of these famous events with the name:
There are just three pages where the kids had to write or do anything (the bottom three photos above). They did page on “What are these Civil Rights Moments?” on the last day of our unit. They wrote out their own explanations of some of the Civil Rights events (middle page) and they did a short writing assignment on Ruby Bridges after we talked about Norman Rockwell’s famous painting. The kids were amazed that the painting was installed at the White House just a few years ago in 2011. We looked at a photograph of President Obama with (adult) Ruby Bridges in front of the painting which now hangs in the hallway outside the Oval Office.
Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Civil Rights Timeline Activity
I created a photo timeline of events to help my kids review (and/or understand) the events leading to the Civil Rights Movement. We spent the week really going over that material. The packet goes over the basic history of slavery and post slavery events. Some of the topics we reviewed included…
the first slaves (Jamestown) picking tobacco
- Slave Trade
- the Declaration of Independence and Constitution (and the fact that slavery was not addressed)
- Cotton and Plantation Life
- Black Codes
- Civil War
- 13th, 14th, 15th Amendments
- Separate but Equal (Plessy v Ferguson)
- Jim Crow Laws
Not only did we go over the notebook pages (below), but we also pulled out the resources we used last year. We pulled out the notebook pages on the Constitution (which is in our Civics and Government Packet) to make sure they remembered some of the details about that. Last spring, we spent quite a lot of time going over the Transatlantic Slave Trade. (You’ll find a list of books we read and notebook pages the kids added to their history notebooks last semester at that post.) Plus, we read a few chapters from one of our history books.
Here is a collage of the notebook pages I made for their history notebooks. The photo timeline covers the topics I mentioned above. You can download this photo timeline with the link below. It is currently free. It is 13 pages.
Civil Rights Movement Timeline Activity:
The kids spent a couple of days making their own timelines. Several pages in the packet above include just photos of the events. My kids made their own long timeline and used the photos in their project. (They are included in the packet above, but not shown in the photo collage.)
I made a quick timeline to show them how you can block out time periods to show how long something lasts. (For example having a line from 1861 to 1865 to show that the Civil War lasted for 4 years.)
ED did a simplified version of the timeline, just cutting out the pictures and pasting them on to her timeline.
The other two wrote out more dates and added in information. I guess I didn’t take a picture of LD’s timeline, but you can see DD’s timeline in the orange below:
What else did we do to review these 300 years of history?
*During our writing workshop time we had a mini-lesson about historical fiction. I made sure the kids knew the difference between fiction and non-fiction. DD still sometimes gets the two mixed up because “non” makes here thing that its “not” true. Anyway, once I established that they knew what those both meant, we read the book, Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family. (affiliate link) We’ve read it before. It covers a slave family from the time a little girls was kidnapped from her African village, chained, brought across to America, sold at market… through to when her children we sold or escaped from bondage. After we finished reading the book, I had the kids pull out elements of the story that really happened in history and what parts were made up by the author. For writing that day, the kids had the option of writing their own historical fiction story. DD chose to write a story about Christopher Columbus. (LD worked on something else.)
*We also watched the The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. (affiliate link) This movie won 9 Emmy Awards. The story is really compelling and covers nearly a hundred years of history… from when Miss Pittman was a young slave girl during the Civil War through to her act of defiance drinking out of a “whites only” drinking fountain at the age of over one hundred! This story was also fiction, but we talked about the elements of the story that really did take place.
For those of you with younger kids, there is a scene of lynching that I would suggest you skip. (I made the girls leave the room. Other than that, it is truly a wonderful movie that really helps bring that 100-year period alive.
*The last activity we did was that I had the kids give a “presentation” about all the events they covered in their timeline. We talked about some of the elements of giving speeches…
- Greet the audience –
- Engage the audience – look people in the eye, smile
- Give a brief overview of your topic before launching into your topic
- Know your material
- Thank the audience for coming
Lessons from the Civil Rights Movement
**Civil Rights Movement Lessons (Free Packet) – In some ways this is the core of what I want the kids to learn from this unit… what are rights? What is the difference between someone’s rights and a privilege? What is it like to be a part of a group? When can it be hard/painful to be left out? Judging people by what they look like. The power of speeches. This is a 13 page packet of discussion questions and lesson ideas on all that and terms like prejudice, bias, racism, etc.
This is a packet I made for the kids to explore some of the deep, underlying issues of the Civil Rights Movement. Here are some of the topics we are exploring:
What are rights? What’s the difference between a right and a privilege? What does it mean to be treated fairly? What groups do you belong to? Have you ever judged anyone by what they look like (by their clothes? appearance?)? Do you know these tough terms — bias, prejudice, stereotype, discrimination, race, racism? Have you heard a powerful speech? Interview someone who was alive in the 1950s and 1960s and ask them about their experiences and recollections of the Civil Rights Movement.
We’re really been enjoying these activities/conversations. A couple of days ago, we talked about the differences between privileges and rights… The kids quickly saw that playing minecraft or doing sports were a privilege, but that eating, breathing, drinking and so forth were a right. I have to admit there was a certain amount of silliness to the conversation too, but after reigning the conversation back around I think they really understood. The kids absolutely loved the activities around the Sneetches (I’ll share a bit more about that tomorrow, though.) We’ve only done a few pages of the packet, but I wanted to share it since Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday is coming up pretty soon.
I’m excited for the kids to do the “Civil Rights Interviews” with their grandparents. I’m actually curious to hear what they have to say (probably more curious and interested than the kids will be!!)
Rights, Privileges, Equality, Fairness, Groups, Discrimination, Bias, Prejudice, Stereotypes, Racism, Making People Proud, The Power of Speeches and more…
Civil Rights Movement Books you may want to read with your students:
Elementary (these are affiliate links)
- Ruth and the Green Book
- Freedom Summer
- The Story Of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
- Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges
- Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins
- Freedom School, Yes!
- Boycott Blues: How Rosa Parks Inspired a Nation
- Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down
- Take a Walk in Their Shoes: Biographies of 14 Outstanding African Americans by Glennette Tilley Turner
- Child of the Civil Rights Movement
- A Sweet Smell of Roses
- The Other Side
- White Socks Only
- I’ve Seen the Promised Land: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.If A Bus Could Talk: The Story of Rosa Parks
Middle School (these are affiliate links)
- The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 – We are listening to the audiobook version of this. It is not quite what I expected. It’s very good so far, but it is more about the boys relationship with one another the first portion of the book.
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
- Devil on My Heels
- Mr. Touchdown
- Freedom Songs
- The $66 Summer: A Novel of the Segregated South
- One Crazy Summer
- My Mother the Cheerleader
Movies (these are affiliate links)
- The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (nominated for 9 Emmy Awards) – weaves the story of a 110 year old woman from the Slavery/Civil War to Civil Rights — A great way to start out this unit (for 10+, a few difficult scenes lynching, etc.)
- The Rosa Parks Story
- The Long Walk Home– About the Montgomery Bus Boycott
- Selma, Lord, Selma
- Ruby Bridges
Civil Rights Books and Movies my kids ♥ loved!
Every year since 1976, every U.S. president has designated February as black history month. We have just about finished up our unit on the Civil Rights Movement and I have a couple more posts to share with you.
Last week, we learned about the challenges young blacks faced when they attended all-white schools in the late 1950s and early 1960s. We first learned about the Little Rock Nine. Then, the kids and I read two books about Ruby Bridges, the first black child to attend the all-white elementary school, William Frantz Elementary, in New Orleans. Both books were wonderful: The Story Of Ruby Bridges and Through My Eyes (affiliate links)
We also spent two days watching Disney’s Ruby Bridges (affiliate links). We read a portion of, Through My Eyes, each day before we watched the movie. Since there were sections written by Ruby’s teacher, the psychologist who visited her and others it really added a lot to our studies. All three of my kids (5, 8, 10) loved the movie and learned a lot from it. ED said she loved the movie! We definitely had a lot of great discussions about why people were so cruel, how brave Ruby was and how lonely she must have been being the only child in her classroom throughout her first grade year.
We also read a couple of books about the Greensboro Sit-Ins. After reading these two books, I didn’t feel like we need to go into much more detail about the sit-ins.
We also read the non-fiction book Selma’s Bloody Sunday, The marches and protests in Selma grew out of voting rights movement and the effort to register African-Americans to vote. Some say that these marches and protests were the emotional peak of the Civil Rights Movement. This book tackled some of the violence in a way that the fiction books we have read together did not. My older two were ready for a book with details like this; my younger one did not read this one with us.
We also read Child of the Civil Rights Movement which was written from a little girl’s perspective. Her family traveled down Alabama to participate in the Selma to Montgomery march. It did not touch on the violence that had occurred.
We read the book above just prior to watching the movie, Selma, Lord, Selma. This movie was also based on a true story and it did a great job depicting the march from Selma to Montgomery.
You might be interested in these related history posts:
- Civics and Government Unit – Learn all about the 3 branches of government, the Bill of Rights, basic civics facts, how a bill becomes law, the Presidential Cabinet, federal vs. state governments and more!
European History Packet – Explore the Renaissance, Reformation, Henry VIII and the English Reformation, the Age of Absolutism, Scientific Revolution and Enlightenment
European History Packet 1500-1750 – Quick Preview of what is included.
World Facts Packet
Do your kids know the 4 largest countries? Which countries have the most people? The cities with the largest population? The longest river? This packet covers basic world and U.S. facts. Click here to find out more about the World Facts Packet!
The World Facts Packet also covers geographic features, landforms, deserts of the world, world landmarks and more!
We also have a 100+ page World War I unit. Be sure to check that out too!
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