Appreciation. Achievement. Acceptance. We have made it to one of my favorite periods of the academic year. As a Black Occupational Therapist, Black History Month is the perfect time to spread awareness and educate others, while continuing to support the Black communities' culture, histories, and traditions.
I find that creating Black History Month activities increases students' motivation, participation, and engagement to assist with diversifying their learning.
The following activities will focus on encouraging and improving fine and visual motor skills. Here are some ideas for Black History Month:
Garrett Morgan Traffic Light
This activity encourages students to learn about the great inventor Garrett Morgan while focusing on visual perception, gross motor skills, bilateral coordination, tool use, and mature grasp patterns.
- Education About Black History: Position a picture of Garrett Morgan and place it somewhere all students can easily see. Begin the activity by playing a short game of red light green light without calling out/pointing out any yellow. Afterwards, encourage discussion regarding if it was easy to switch back and forth between going fast and stopping. Next, play an additional round and incorporate the color yellow. Educate the students on how it is easier and safer. Emphasis how thanks to Garrett Morgan we are all much safer on the road. Explain how Garrett Morgan added the yellow to the traffic light and how people were unfair and unkind to him due to the color of his skin.
- What you will need: scissors, construction paper (black, red, yellow, green), glue stick picture of Garrett Morgan
- Activity: Provide your students with a full sheet of black construction paper. Instruct students to use scissors and cut out 3 circle shapes, 1 of each traffic light color (red, yellow, green). Have students copy the design of the traffic light, focusing on the correct color sequence. Allow students to use the glue stick to secure colored circles to the black construction paper.
Encourage students to use the remaining sheet of colored construction paper to tear small pieces using a pincer grasp and match the colors to the traffic light. Use the glue stick to secure pieces to the construction paper. Hang the finished craft around the classroom to display from all your students!
- Upgrade Activity: One way to make this activity harder is to incorporate small manipulations that match the traffic light colors and encourage students to use tongs rather than their fingers to position materials on the circles. Manipulates can include coins, buttons, etc.
- Downgrade Activity: In order to make the activity easier, use modified adapted scissors for cutting or to pre-cut the shapes for students. Students can draw 3 colored circle shapes with markers rather than using scissors.
Holding Hands Craft
- What you will need: construction paper, different shades of skin-tone paper/cardstock or pencil, glue stick, scissors
- Activity: Begin the activity by fostering communication about diversity, inclusion, and skin color. Provide the students with skin-tone paper and instruct them to fold the paper in half. Allow them to trace their hand with the thumb and index finger placed on the fold of the paper (the heart outline is made by allowing the thumb and index fingers to connect). Provide students with scissors and allow them to cut out the traced hand.
Encourage students to open the folded piece of paper to see two hands connected with a heart in the middle. Repeat this process 3 times and then cut down the center of the hands to separate the skin-tone colors. Arrange each hand so that it connects to another hand of a different skin tone. Provide glue to allow the students to glue their hands to the base construction paper. Allow students to cut out small hearts to add to the center of holding hands.
- Upgrade Activity: In order to make the activity more challenging, provide thicker paper to cut through (rather than construction paper). You can also allow students to write sentences based on inclusion to incorporate handwriting.
- Downgrade Activity: In order to make this activity easier, assist the students by tracing their hand shape for them or providing pre-cut handpieces in a variety of different skin tones. You can also allow students to complete one or two holding hands instead of three.
Author: Kimberlee Manly, MOT, OTR/L