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  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 and ASSESS 

Students take the Maya Angelou Challenge and Quiz, applying essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about Maya Angelou 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: Create a documentary that answers this question: How did Maya Angelou channel 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. 
  • Primary Source Activity: Watch Maya Angelou recite her poem “On the Pulse of the Morning” at the 1993 presidential inauguration. Cite details to answer the questions. 

More to Explore

Sortify: World Changing Women: This game challenges players to sort influential women by attributes, such as musicians, writers, Suffrage Movement, and more.  

Teacher Support Resources:


Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments