Learn More About Civil Rights With These Learning Extensions!

Anna Starecheski

In our endless brainstorming sessions here at Storyworks Jr. HQ, we always strive to choose a topic that will really grab students and also teach them something important. The play in the February issue of Storyworks Jr., The Day Mrs. Parks Was Arrested, definitely fits the bill! The great thing about this particular play is that not only does it build fluency and confidence, it's also about a very important topic: The Civil Rights Movement. In honor of Black History Month, we wanted to give you a few ideas for ways to keep the learning going on this vital teaching topic!


TO WATCH: A short video about another facet of the bus boycott.
TO DO: A research project

This fun animated video from the History Channel tells the story of another important woman in the bus boycott: Claudette Colvin, a 15-year-old who similarly refused to give up her seat to a white person and was arrested. This is a great opportunity to teach your students that there is always more to every story, and it's great to learn about the lesser-known facts! 

LEARNING TASK: Have students research a lesser-known figure of the Civil Rights Movement. Some ideas: Claudette Colvin herself, Medgar Evers, or John Lewis.


TO READ: An age-appropriate biography of Rosa Parks

TO DO: A fact-finding project

This series is one of our favorites: They supply biographies of important people that are simple enough for kids to understand. This one, Who Was Rosa Parks? by Yona Zeldis McDonough, is at the perfect level for your students, and they're sure to find it fascinating!

LEARNING TASK: Ask students to find five facts about Rosa Parks that weren't included in our play. Feel free to lead a class discussion about how shorter pieces often have to leave some parts out to get their important message across.


TO WATCH: A speech from John Lewis

TO DO: Write a letter

John Lewis isn't mentioned in our play, but he was a vital figure of the Civil Rights Movement. In this video, he speaks briefly about the Freedom Rides in which he took part. Your students will be interested to hear from this man who lived through such an important, powerful movement, and is still alive and fighting today.

LEARNING TASK: Have students write a letter to John Lewis, who is currently a Congressperson in Georgia.


TO WATCH: A primary source video of Martin Luther King Jr. discussing the bus boycott, along with footage from the boycott.

TO DO: Make a poster

This video shows Martin Luther King Jr. speaking about the bus boycott, as well as some amazing footage from the boycott itself. Note: Martin Luther King Jr. uses an outdated term to refer to Black people, please watch to make sure you're comfortable showing it to your students.

LEARNING TASK: Have students imagine that they're living in 1955 and taking part in the bus boycott. Instruct them to make posters to hang up around town to convince the members of their community to boycott the buses.

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