Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

This lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-12, invites students to explore BrainPOP resources to learn about the Civil Rights Movement of the  1950s and 60s, including landmark events and leaders in the movement.  Then students will select one event or leader and conduct further research to present to the group.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm what they know about the Civil Rights Movement, including its leaders and landmark events.
  2. Use Make-a-Map to identify landmark events and leaders in the movement and details associated with each.
  3. Research one event or leader from the movie.
  4. Share research with small group.


  • Internet access for BrainPOP
  • Interactive whiteboard
  • Class set of Web Graphic Organizer (alternative to Make-a-Map)


segregation, boycott, sit-in, discrimination, prejudice


  • Preview the movie Civil Rights to plan for any adaptations.
  • Bring in and display books and articles about Civil Rights events and leaders (optional)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Ask students to share what they know about the Civil Rights movement. Let them know it can be simply a name of a person involved in the movement, an event, court case, etc. Jot their responses on the board.
  2. After students brainstorm, explain that today they will watch a movie about the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s which highlights key events and people of the movement, such as the Brown v. Board of Education trial case, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott, sit-ins, Freedom Rides, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and more.
  3. Show the movie Civil Rights on the whiteboard or other large display to the whole class.
  4. Next, have students open Make-a-Map from the Civil Rights topic page. Instruct them to choose the structure map template or make their own. If students are not using individual computers, distribute the Web Graphic Organizer to complete offline.
  5. Now invite students to watch the movie again. As they do, have them identify key events and people of the Civil Rights Movement on their structure maps (or Web graphic organizers), pausing the movie to fill in the boxes. Remind them that they can include images and movie clips in their organizer (if they’re using Make-a-Map).
  6. Divide the class into small groups of 4 of 5. Within each group, have students each select a different event or person to research. Students may use approved web sites as well as offline resources to conduct their research.
  7. Have students put together an on- or offline presentation of their research.
  8. Finally, have students present to their groups.

Extension Activities:

  • Challenge students to play Time Zone X: Civil Rights and put events in chronological order using an interactive timeline tool.
  • Have students test their knowledge of civil rights terminology by playing Meaning of Beep: Civil Rights.
  • Divide the class into groups of five. Assign each person in the group one of the Civil Rights Related Readings to read. Then have them share what they learned with the rest of the group.