This is Rosa Parks

K, 1, 2

The unfair laws in America prior to the civil rights movement are shown through the story of Rosa Parks. The idea that the actions of one person can change the life of many is explored.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty Minute Class Period

The learners will:

  • define vocabulary related to segregation.
  • compare and contrast Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman.
  • The book I Am Rosa Parks (see Bibliographic References)
  • Chalkboard or chart paper
  • Water color paints
  • Paint brushes
  • Construction paper
  • Pencils
  • Steal Away, Songs of the Underground Railroad (see Bibliographic References)
  • Adler, David A. A Picture Book of Rosa Parks. New York: Holiday House, 1993. ISBN: 0-8234-1177-X
  • Harris, Kim and Reggie. Steal Away, songs of the Underground Railroad. Brooky Bear Music, 1997. CD ASIN: B000005BP
  • Parks, Rosa with Jim Haskins. I Am Rosa Parks. New York: Puffin Books, 1997. ISBN: 0-14-130710-2


  1. Anticipatory Set:Tell the students that the class will be reading a story about another brave African American woman.Set the listening purpose: Listen to see if this woman has anything in common with Harriet Tubman.

  2. Read I Am Rosa Parks (see Bibliographic References). Pause for understanding of the terms segregation (the separation of people by the color of their skin) and boycott (deciding not to do something). TheAfrican American'sdidn’t ride the buses until the unfair laws were changed.

  3. Explain that the Civil Rights Movement was a time when people openly questioned unfair laws. It was a time when people started to work to change the unfair laws.

  4. Ask, “Do you think the bus boycott was a good way to get the unfair laws changed? Would it have worked if only some of the people in the community cooperated with the boycott?” It worked because everyone participated. The bus company lost a lot of money because no one was riding the buses.

  5. Draw a Venn diagram on the chalkboard or on chart paper. Write Harriet Tubman on one side and Rosa Parks on the other. Ask students to list things that these two women had in common. Write these in the center intersecting part of the diagram. Some of their common characteristics might be:

    • they were both black women
    • both helped people
    • both wanted to change things that were unfair
    • both wanted the same freedoms that whites had
    • both were very brave.
  6. On Harriet Tubman’s side write that she helped enslaved Africans escape. On Rosa Parks’ side write that her actions started the bus boycott that changed the law. Write any other appropriate suggestions that the children make. Ask the learners if Rosa Parks made the right decision and if she contributed to the common good by her actions. Explain that to be a real community, people need to come together for the common good.

  7. Show the picture on page 40 of I Am Rosa Parks (see Bibliographic References). Tell the students that this is a painting of a famous photograph taken of Rosa Parks riding the bus after the boycott. It is a water color.

  8. Pass out construction paper. Tell the students to sketch a scene from the story of Rosa Parks. They will paint it with watercolors.

  9. Play the CD Steal Away, Songs of the Underground Railroad (see Bibliographic References) while the children paint. Encourage them to sing along with the “Harriet Tubman” song.

  10. After the paintings dry allow time for each child to re-tell the portion of the story that s/he depicted.


Assessment is based on teacher observation of student participation in the discussion, the painting project and the re-telling of the story through each painting.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.3 Recognize that citizens have a responsibility for the common good as defined by democratic principles.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
      2. Benchmark E.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
      3. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define community as the degree that people come together for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.9 Give examples how people give time, talent or treasure in different cultures.