Activity: Understanding Who Rosa Parks Was

Resources needed:


Stickers or rosettes which say ‘special’ – one for every child.

Pictures of Rosa Parks (one per child)


  1. As the children enter the class, direct all those with brown eyes to their seats and send all other children to sit on a carpeted area. Make it clear you are deciding where the children sit based on their eye colour. This may cause some consternation!
  2. Now give all the children sitting on the chairs one of the ‘special’ badges to wear. Make it clear that they are receiving those badges because of the colour of their eyes.
  3. Ask the children sitting on the floor how they are feeling. Ask the children on the chairs how they are feeling. Ask all the children if what you have done is fair and. if they feel not, why not.

Teaching point: if the children are struggling to verbalise, you may need to clarify how unfair it is to be treated differently simply due to a physical characteristic you have no control over.

  1. Now watch the first two minutes of the video at which gives a short biography of Rosa Parks.
  2. Ask the children to compare what has just happened in the classroom to what happened to Rosa. Emphasise the seriousness of segregation and how it was inflicted in so many ways for such a long time.
  3. Give the children the picture of Rosa and ask them to write either a caption or a speech or thought bubble to sum up what they have found out.
  4. Make sure that all the children receive a ‘Special’ badge by the end of the session!


Further Activities:

Ask the children to further research Rosa’s life at home by using secondary sources. They could also talk to people at home to see what they know.

Compile a class list of ‘Fairness’ and ask everyone to contribute a sentence. For example, ‘It is fair that we all use the same equipment in the classroom’ or ‘It is fair that we all have the same amount of time for breaks’

Curriculum Areas covered:

The national curriculum for history aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Know and understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world: the nature of ancient civilisations; the expansion and dissolution of empires; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind
  • Understand historical concepts such as continuity and change, cause and consequence, similarity, difference and significance, and use them to make connections, draw contrasts, analyse trends, frame historically-valid questions and create their own structured accounts, including written narratives and analyses
  • Understand the methods of historical enquiry, including how evidence is used rigorously to make historical claims, and discern how and why contrasting arguments and interpretations of the past have been constructed

Pupils should be taught about:

  • The lives of significant individuals in the past who have contributed to national and international achievements. Some should be used to compare aspects of life in different periods [for example, Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria, Christopher Columbus and Neil Armstrong, William Caxton and Tim Berners-Lee, Pieter Bruegel the Elder and LS Lowry, Rosa Parks and Emily Davison, Mary Seacole and/or Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell]