Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8

NOTE TO EDUCATORS: The movie featured in this lesson plan includes brief references to child abuse and its traumatic effects. Consider previewing the movie before showing it to the class.

Click to open and customize your own copy of the Maya Angelou Lesson Plan.

This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Maya Angelou, and supports the standard of describing the lives and contributions of historical figures. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of creative projects.


Prompt students to think of a challenge they’ve experienced. Ask: How did this experience change you? 


  • Read aloud the description on the Maya Angelou topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Have students read one of the three Related Reading articles. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY
Students synthesize their ideas and express them through one or more of the following creative projects. They can work individually or collaborate.  

  • Make-a-Movie: Create a documentary exploring how Maya Angelou channeled her experiences into art.
  • Make-a-Map: Make a concept map sequencing the major events in Maya Angelou’s life. 
  • Creative Coding: Code a flag representing the significance of Maya Angelou’s contributions. 


Reflect: After sharing creative projects with each other, students reflect on what they’ve learned about Maya Angelou.  Prompt them by asking questions such as: 

  • How might Maya Angelou’s story help others who are going through difficult experiences? 
  • How did Maya Angelou use writing, music, and acting to process and share her experiences? 

Assess: Wrap up the lesson with the Maya Angelou Challenge

Step 5:  Extend Learning

 Analyze Maya Angelou’s recitation of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning” at 1993’s presidential inauguration in this Primary Source Activity

Show what you know about Maya Angelou and other influential women with the sorting game, Sortify: World Changing Women