Lesson Plans

33 Result(s)
Grade Range
9-12
The Music of African American History

This lesson traces the long history of how African Americans have used music as a vehicle for communicating beliefs, aspirations, observations, joys, despair, resistance, and more across U.S. history.

Grade Range
9-12
A Raisin in the Sun: Whose "American Dream"?

Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun provides a compelling and honest look into one family's aspirations to move to another Chicago neighborhood and the thunderous crash of a reality that raises questions about for whom the "American Dream" is accessible.  

Grade Range
9-12
Martin Puryear's Ladder for Booker T. Washington

Students examine Martin Puryear’s "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" and consider how the title of Puryear’s sculpture is reflected in the meanings we can draw from it. They learn about Booker T. Washington’s life and legacy, and through Puryear's ladder, students explore the African American experience from Booker T.'s perspective and apply their knowledge to other groups in U.S. History. They also gain understanding of how a ladder can be a metaphor for a person’s and a group’s progress toward goals.

Grade Range
9-12
Learning the Blues

Take a virtual field trip to Memphis, Tennessee, and explore the history of the blues.

Grade Range
6-12
Afro Atlantic: Mapping Journeys

Kerry James Marshall's painting Voyager, depicting two partially obscured Black figures standing aboard a ship, refers to an actual ship, Wanderer, which was among the last slave ships in the United States, illegally transporting more than 400 individuals from West Africa to Georgia in 1858—even though the importation of enslaved people had been banned in 1808. Use the painting as an entry point to discuss the Transatlantic slave trade and introduce students to the NEH-funded database Slave Voyages project. 

Grade Range
6-12
Afro Atlantic: Paths from Enslavement

Use Aaron Douglas’s mural Into Bondage to introduce the stories of famous Harlem Renaissance figures, including Langston Hughes, and to explore the history and importance of Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the end of Black enslavement in the United States.  

Grade Range
9-12
Common Visions, Common Voices

Trace similar motifs in the artwork and folklore of India, Africa, the Maya, and Native Americans.

Grade Range
K-5
The Meaning Behind the Mask

Students explore the cultural significance of masks, discuss the use of masks in stories, and then investigate the role masks play in ceremonies and on special occasions in various African cultures.

Grade Range
K-5
Music from Across America

Students examine and listen to a variety of forms of music to learn about the cultural, geographic, and stylistic diversity available within the United States.

Grade Range
9-12
The Freedom Riders and the Popular Music of the Civil Rights Movement

The American civil rights movement incorporated a variety of cultural elements in their pursuit of political and legal equality under law. This lesson will highlight the role of music as a major influence through the use of audio recordings, photographs, and primary documents. Students will participate in their own oral history, examine lyrics, and work with case studies such as the Freedom Rides to gain an appreciation of how music influenced the early 1960s.