Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Black History Month

I came across this great site last week that I wanted to share with you for Teaching Tip Tuesday. Debbie DeSpirt has written quite a few articles and lesson plans that will appeal to primary school teachers.


I like her lesson for Black History Month and how it deals with some of the every day inventions that we just take for granted. I think the students would be really surprised to find out about the inventors of things that we use every day without giving it a second thought. Here is the link to the lesson plan.


Here is the hook activity,

Show students a tub of ice cream and an ice cream scooper. Ask students what they have in common? Write their answers on the board. Students will give a variety of answers but most likely none will know that both of them were invented by African-American inventors in the 19th century. Tell students they should be thankful to Augustus Jackson who invented ice cream in 1832 and Alfred L. Cralle who introduced the ice cream scooper in 1897.

And here is the method,

Teacher tapes pictures of different inventions created by African-American Inventors that students can relate to such as the doorknob, supersoaker, toilet, and clothes dryer on the blackboard. Teacher has an open discussion on the purpose of the invention and how it impacts our lives. Students may brainstorm in small groups about a specific invention and then share their ideas and opinions about the invention with the class.

Purpose of the lesson is to highlight African-Americans who quietly made a difference in the past and continue to in the present. Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King are household names, but Otis Boykin, inventor of the pacemaker which has saved lives of every race, is not. Students are to choose an African-American inventor, research their invention and conclude if the invention is a success.

I found this great list of inventors to help you out as well if you plan to try this lesson with your class.


When I went to the Canada Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa, I was pleasantly surprised at the display of famous inventors. The SuperSoaker. I’m sure a student would love to find out more about that.

Here are some other inventors we should know about.

George Grant invented the golf tee
Oscar Brown invented horse shoes
J.L.Love invented the pencil sharpener
Garrett Morgan invented the traffic light
J.A.Burr-lawn mower

I know that there is only a week left of Black History Month but there is no reason why we can’t celebrate that history every month.

I think it is important to realize that all races and cultures have contributed to things we just take for granted today. Black History month helps us to focus on things that we don’t often find in textbooks. I think that is probably the greatest legacy of this designated month.

2 responses to “Teaching Tip Tuesdays – Black History Month”

  1. Hi Chase .. great to know about these inventors .. it's amazing who's invented what .. reminding us that all people can do all things if we wish to.

    I have another for you which I came across .. George Washington Carver, a botanist, scientist, educator and inventor (see Wiki).. yes he's American, not Canadian.

    Interestingly just this week it's been confirmed that there was a wealthy Moor, African lady, found in the Roman times of York founded (AD 71).

    I hope your posts inspire the kids and teachers .. Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    I first heard about Carver from a 1986 rap song by Run-DMC. "George Washington Carver made the peanut great."

    It's pretty amazing how you can learn some interesting facts and history from popular music.

    I hope this blog is able to inspire students, teachers, and everyone.

    Thanks a lot for contributing more to this topic as well.