Free online resources for kids that celebrate Black history and culture (2024)

Free online resources for kids that celebrate Black history and culture (1)

Teach kids about Black history with these free online resources.Credit: WILLIE B . THOMAS / Getty Images

Whether your child can recite from memory the names and philosophies of leaders like W.E.B. Du Bois and Angela Davis, or they need an introduction to the pivotal Black figures who have helped shape our nation, Black History Month offers a valuable opportunity for children to learn and grow.

Of course, awareness and appreciation of Black history and culture, along with racial justice, are relevant all year long when raising children in a multicultural society. But, with lessons about race and systemic racism being threatened in schools across many states — often in association with national conversation surrounding Critical Race Theory — Black history can often be carelessly (or intentionally) overlooked.

You can bridge these gaps in education and bolster your children's learning with digital resources. The ones below represent a variety of tools from national museums and educational nonprofits, created to educate and engage children in Black history and culture through interactive events, entertaining videos, and content that profile Black visionaries and leaders. Whether you're a parent or a teacher, head on over to these websites to spark children's curiosity or continue their education.

1. Common Sense Media

Common Sense, a nonprofit that helps parents and teachers choose appropriate kids' media and technology, has its own Celebrate Black Voices page for educational media and activities for all ages. The website acts as a guide for finding content online, which means it includes both free and paid resources. Common Sense says its goal this month is to "highlight the diverse culture, achievements, and experiences of Black people and the powerful voices that have shaped history."

Common Sense points families to its "Black History on the Screen" lists, which compile Common Sense-approved media highlighting famous Black icons or cultural moments. The media covers a variety of subjects, including STEM; Arts, Business & Culture; Dance, Games & Sports; and Activism, Civics & Social Justice. Families can look through Common Sense's list of Black TV classics, as well. There are accompanying videos with each list, which include age ranges for the selections.

Common Sense also suggests parents look at its book lists on Black history, which include ones for preschoolers and little kids, "big kids" and tweens, and teens. The books span fiction and nonfiction, and include classics alongside contemporary novels.

Finally, the organization has published its own teaching resources for families and educators, including a guide to reflecting on Black history as a family, free learning activities for Black History Month, and educational, kid-friendly videos and podcasts about Black history and culture.

2. The National Museum of African American History and Culture

The only national museum dedicated exclusively to the documentation of "African American life, history, and culture," points parents of young children to its annual Black History Month programming, including the weekly Friday series, NMAAHC Kids Learning Together. This month includes Black character celebrations, which combine discussion of positive representations in movies and TV with real-life arts, culture, and science, as well as guest speakers. They are held virtually every Friday throughout February at 11 a.m. ET.

For 2022's celebration, and to honor the previous year's theme of Black health and wellness, the museum put together a searchable online exhibit about Black communities and public health, including explanations of the "Tuskegee Experiment" and Henrietta Lacks. The exhibit remains available online.

The museum also suggests parents and educators take advantage of the museum's Talking about Race online portal to help children understand key topics like how to be anti-racist and why the idea of race is such a dominant force in our world. There are even more resources for early childhood education on the museum's website, as well.

3. New York Public Library

The New York Public Library runs a Little Learners video series, which offers music, art, and culture programming including videos on Black history and culture by music and social justice artist Fyütch, as well as content exploring other cultures from around the world. The library also encourages parents and their children to check out its Early Literacy hub, which offers free programs, books, and other resources for young learners and families.

You can find more Black History Month programming on the library's online calendar.

4. PBS

PBS has a variety of online resources, categorized by age, to teach kids about Black History and anti-racism. For example, parents of kids ages 2 to 5 can use PBS' drawing activity to help their children understand the power of advocacy and reflect on the times they stood up for someone. They can also think about and write down the characteristics of great heroes with a printable work page. Afterward, take a look at PBS' Questions to Ask Your Child to engage your kid in a discussion about Black heroes. You can ask them questions like, "What Black role models helped to make the world a better place?"

Children 6 through 8 can watch animated videos about Black people whose accomplishments secured them a place in the history books. For example, check out scientist and inventor George Washington Carver, who invented more than 300 products from peanuts, and writer Zora Neale Hurston, whose work explored Black people's stories in the South. After watching the videos, explore PBS' supplemental activities, like colorfully illustrated PDFs you can download that inspire children to share their own stories like Hurston did.

As part of PBS' anti-racism resources, educators can use PBS' "Creating a Caring Classroom Community" hub to learn how to nurture a caring classroom, teach students to celebrate diversity, and talk about why racism hurts. You can kick off a class with this video from the show Arthur that teaches kids about racism.

5. Smithsonian Institute Learning Lab

In addition to partnering with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian Institute hosts its interactive Learning Lab, an online resource for students, teachers, parents, and the casually curious. The website includes Learning Lab collections — digital versions of museum exhibits created by professionals.

Parents and children also can use the Smithsonian Learning Lab's online lesson discussing Black History Month through the histories of important Black figures and Black art, featuring works from the National Portrait Gallery. The guided presentation takes children through the basics of art, shows famous portraits with accompanying biographies, and includes questions and activities at the end. The activity is suitable for all ages.

Other collections include lessons and photo galleries created using items and exhibits from the museum's archives, like Music and Sound, featuring famous Black musicians, and Hair Joy, a collection of images showcasing Black hairstyles and history.

6. Scholastic Magazines+

Scholastic Magazines+, which offers both paid and free teaching resources in association with Scholastic books, published a free, nonfiction story collection for young readers to learn more about Black history and culture. The stories are suitable for grades 1-12.

The nonfiction resources are "dedicated to brave men, women and children who have made a big impact on the world," according to the website, and share the stories of Black leaders like ballerina Misty Copeland and pilot Bessie Coleman.

Each history lesson is paired with teaching resources like narrated videos for young children, close-reading questions, and vocabulary lessons. Along with the stories, Scholastic also has an accompanying video series interviewing young Black entrepreneurs who have founded nonprofits, clothing companies, and a coding academy.

Be sure to also check out Scholastic Magazine's StoryWorks series celebrating Black voices, complete with teaching resources to accompany each story, and the Black History Month Reading List — take the time to head to your local library for free copies.

7. National Education Association

The National Education Association, a network of educators and professionals working in public education, has its own Black History Month hub full of free, online activities created by members and other organizations, like Scholastic books, PBS, and Learning for Justice. Activities include history lessons, quizzes, and printable exercises like crosswords, as well as lesson plans for educators.

The activities are easily divided by grade level, from kindergarten to 12th grade. Each grade level is provided with various lessons across an array of subjects, including science, art, and even sports. It's a great, curated list to start looking for more ways to engage your children.

8. The New York Times Learning Network

The New York Times Learning Network is a teaching resource for educators (as well as students or interested parents) that incorporates current news and history. The website includes lesson plans, activities, and articles curated for educators using the New York Times content.

The publication has a two-part series on Black History Month called Black History, Continued, in which the Times dives deep into understudied moments and highlights of Black history and culture. The second part of the series includes a lesson plan that expands on the history contained in the Continued series, providing discussion questions and opportunities to "reflect on the importance of celebrating overlooked or under-appreciated aspects of the American experience," according to the Learning Network.

The website also has activities for teens and older students, like the student opinion activity How Much Have You Learned About Black History? The article and accompanying questions ask young people to reflect on how Black history is taught in their own schools, what topics they'd like to cover that are currently left out, and how current curricula should change.

9. Black History Month Official Website

The official landing page for the federal recognition of Black History Month has published a long list of learning resources for teachers, parents, and those seeking a broad look at Black history in the United States. The list utilizes archives and digital education sites put together by government organizations like the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Gallery of Art, and even the National Parks Service.

These resources include photo galleries (like this collection celebrating icons of the Harlem Renaissance), articles and learning activities, and even eBooks.

This list is a non-exhaustive example of the plethora of free resources available online, year round. Whichever digital resource you use to explore and celebrate Black history and culture with your kids or students — in February and beyond — it can help build a foundation for a more knowledgeable and anti-racist future.

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2022, 7:00 p.m. EST This story was originally published in February 2021 and was updated with new information and to include more resources in February 2022.

UPDATE: Feb. 3, 2023, 11:57 a.m. EST This story was updated with new information in honor of Black History Month 2023.

TopicsActivismSocial Good

Free online resources for kids that celebrate Black history and culture (2)

Siobhan Neela-Stock

Siobhan was the Social Good reporter at Mashable, writing about everything from mental health to race to the climate crisis. Before diving into the world of journalism, she worked in global health — most notably, as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mozambique. Find her at @siobhanneela.

Chase joined Mashable's Social Good team in 2020, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and media representation. Her work also touches on how these conversations manifest in politics, popular culture, and fandom. Sometimes she's very funny.

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Free online resources for kids that celebrate Black history and culture (2024)


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