Black History Month Lesson - The Life of Matthew Henson
Black History Month offers a wonderful opportunity to teach your kiddos about the many famous men and women who have contributed to and shaped the African American community throughout the years. Civil rights leaders, inventors, explorers, etc. - there are many influential individuals that you can incorporate in your lessons!
We originally saw this unit on Matthew Henson, the first African American to explore the North Pole, over at Sprinkles to Kindergarten and thought it would make an awesome addition to your activities!
First, talk about what explorers are and do, then using a combination of print and online resources, provide a bit of background information about the life and accomplishments of this famous African American explorer. Here are a few resources you might check out;
- "Matthew Henson" [from Biography.com]
- "Profile: African-American North Pole Explorer Matthew Henson" [from NationalGeographic.com]
- "I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer" by Carole Boston Weatherford
- "Matthew Henson: Arctic Adventurer" by B. A. Hoena
- "Keep On!: The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole" by Deborah Hopkinson
- "Amazing Arctic Explorer Matthew Henson" by Mary Dodson Wade
And, to keep track of your learning, you can download this free graphic organizer!
The North Pole
Learning about Matthew Henson provides a great jumping off point for discussing the North Pole - the weather conditions, the animals, the terrain, the native peoples, and other things Henson might have encountered along the way!
As a class, you might investigate;
- The average temperature (highs/lows) for each month of the year
- The average precipitation for each month of the year
- The clothing, equipment/tools, etc. that the explorers would have worn/brought along on their journey
- The various animals that inhabit the North Pole and the characteristics that allow them to survive in such harsh conditions
- The native peoples that the explorers would have encountered on their way to the North Pole
This is sure to be a fun study! Not to mention, if you visit Sprinkles to Kindergarten, you'll see that documenting your learning through crafts and activities makes for a great winter classroom display!