February is African American History Month (also known as Black History Month) in the US, Canada and Jamaica. In Britain, Black (or Afrikan) History Month is marked in October. The current earthquake turmoil in Haiti provides the opportunity to apply a more specific perspective to your Montessori classroom study of African American History month. Employing a cross-curriculum approach covering the geography, history and culture of Haiti, your annual study of African American History Month can tie into current events and help reinforce a global and historical consciousness, empathy and even peace activities.
The majority of Haitians are of African descent. Your Montessori students may enjoy comparing and tracing the timelines and paths of Africans as they came to Haiti and the United States. Encourage your students to consider how, when and why Africans came to Haiti and the United States. What happened once they arrived?
African American / Black History Month: Activities and Current Events in the Montessori Classroom
I find that Montessori students of many ages are fascinated by the history and stories of the Underground Railroad. There is a wealth of information on the Underground Railroad that is accessible to children. There are many books that are appropriate for a variety of ages. Scholastic has an innovative and interactive site that students can explore. Older students can research the Haitian revolution and compare and contrast it with the Underground Railroad. Students may want to create a play, poem, short story or living diorama inspired by the Underground Railroad or the Haitian revolution.
Your Montessori class may also enjoy preparing a feast of Haitian and traditional African American cuisine. Your “foodie” students could take note of similarities and research the history of certain dishes.
Encourage your students to research a famous African American/Canadian, Haitian American/Canadian, or both. Some students may want to dress like their research subject and perform a small monologue for their Montessori classmates. Some famous Haitian Americans include Edwidge Danticat, Wyclef Jean, and Ronald Agénor.
Underground Railroad Resources
- Scholastic - The Underground Railroad
- . . . If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad, by Ellen Levine and Larry Johnson
- Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky, by Faith Ringgold
- Barefoot: Escape on the Underground Railroad, by Pamela Duncan Edwards and Henry Cole
- Harriet Tubman: Conductor on the Underground Railroad, by Ann Petry
- The Underground Railroad: An Interactive History Adventure, by Allison Lassieur
- The Underground Railroad for Kids: From Slavery to Freedom with 21 Activities, by Mary Kay Carson
- North by Night: A Story of the Underground Railroad, by Katherine Ayres
© North American Montessori Center - originally posted in its entirety at Montessori Teacher Training on Thursday, January 28, 2010.