Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

*Click to open and customize your own copy of the Harvey Milk Lesson Plan

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Harvey Milk, and supports the standard of exploring factors that contribute to one’s personal identity such as interests, capabilities, and perceptions Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Prompt students to brainstorm civil rights activists throughout history. Ask:

  • What characteristics do activists have in common? How did these traits help make them effective in enacting change? 


  • Read the description on the Harvey Milk topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading. Have students read one of the following articles: “Laws and Customs,” “Politics,” or “In-Depth.” Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign Harvey Milk Challenge and Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about Harvey Milk while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce an interview with Harvey Milk in which he discusses how his experiences shaped his mission in fighting for LGBTQ+ rights, and how he used his personal strengths to enact change. 
  • Make-a-Map: Create a concept map sequencing major events in Harvey Milk’s life.
  • Creative Coding: Code a museum exhibit with artifacts representing ways Harvey Milk’s work continues to impact lives today. 
  • Primary Source Activity: Read Harvey Milk’s column from his college newspaper and cite evidence to answer the accompanying questions. 

More to Explore 

Time Zone X:Civil Rights: Students put historical events in chronological order in this interactive timeline game.

LawCraft: Students take on the role of congressperson, drafting a bill on an issue they believe in, and taking it through the full law-making process. 

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments