February is Black History Month, a time to uplift and honor the histories, stories, and voices of the Black community. It’s also the perfect opportunity to reflect on your culturally responsive teaching strategies to make sure your students see themselves represented in your classroom instruction not just this month, but all year long. Black representation matters in curriculum—here are a few ideas to help you get started.
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) at University of Wisconsin-Madison published their annual Diversity Statistics and found that in 2021, only 13.8% of books published in the US featured a Black or African main character. Representation matters: children’s early experiences play a large part in shaping the expectations and goals they set for themselves.
Below, you’ll find 5 free math and reading activities featuring Black main characters sure to spark joy in your students. Access eSpark’s full library of instructional content by signing up free.
Topic: Reading comprehension – Ask and answer questions
Maisy’s mom tasks her with a very important job: watering the plants in their garden! When things go awry, Maisy gets some help from an unexpected friend and learns the value of honesty along the way. Your students’ ability to ask and answer questions about a text will bloom as they follow along with this story and check for understanding at the end.
Topic: Phonics – “Wh,” “Th,” and “Ck” sounds
In this game, Alex the Adventurer is on the hunt for sounds and words! Students are asked to help identify “Wh,” “Th,” and “Ck” sounds as they travel through the forest and make discoveries along the way.
Topic: Place value – 10s and 100s
It’s time for students to put on their capes, because their local superhero needs their help! Build some muscle by stacking ten groups of ten cars. When students reach one hundred, they’ll be rewarded with a fun powerup that crushes the cars down and clears the junkyard in the process.
Topic: Multiplication – Multiply within 100
Pilot Pearl loves multiplying and dividing by the number six almost as much as she loves flying through the sky. In this game, students will solve math problems to help Pearl navigate the clouds and rack up a high score.
Topic: Reading Comprehension – Use Evidence to Describe a Character
Ever been waiting for the bus on a boiling hot summer day, only to meet someone wearing purple pants, winter boots, and a red velvet cape? It hasn’t happened to us just yet, but it does happen to Aaliyah, the main character in this interactive story. Your students will identify textual evidence to support character traits and themes, while Aaliyah learns an important lesson about confidence.
Looking for additional resources that reflect the diversity in your classroom?
We want every student to feel welcomed, represented, respected, and valued as they develop skills that are critical to academic achievement. eSpark strives to recognize and honor diverse life experiences, family histories, and cultures in the content that we create, because we know that students build self-esteem and deepen their understanding of others when they see authentic representations of themselves, their family, and the members of their community. Meaningful Black representation is just one small part of those efforts. Sign up free to access eSpark’s full library of math and reading resources, created with care by our team of former educators.