Civil Rights Bus Craft

This is a printable paper craft kids can do to help them learn about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Civil Rights Bus 4

Inside the windows of the bus and in the door are some of the most important  leaders of the Civil Rights movement including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Ella Baker.

Civil Rights Bus 3

We chose a bus because one of the major tools to gain publicity for the Black Rights cause and force change were the bus boycotts in Montgomery and other cities.  Also, many date the beginning of the Civil Rights movement to the day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus and was arrested for it.  This is not the day that people began working for equality and civil rights, but it was perhaps the day that the movement entered the public eye.

Before doing the craft you may want to introduce Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus strike by reading aloud Rosa by Nikki Giovanni.

Civil Rights Bus Craft

  1. Print out the first page of the pdf (below) to get the bus and the people to go inside the windows.
  2. Color the bus. Then cut the bus out.
  3. Cut out the people and cut out the bus windows so that they make flaps that can open.
  4. Paste the people from behind inside the windows of the bus.  If you like, paste the bus onto another brightly colored piece of paper (we used card stock to paste the bus to.)

While the kids are coloring, cutting, and pasting you can read aloud a little information about each of these people and what they did.

Civil Rights Bus 2

At this point you can be finished if you are working with younger kids, up to about 3rd grade.

  1. But if you are doing this craft with older kids, print out the second sheet as well. (We printed this sheet onto brightly colored card stock.) The second sheet of the pdf includes an outline of the bus with spaces to write a little more information about the Civil Rights movement.
  2. Paste your first bus craft right on top of this outline along the top edge so the whole bus becomes a flap to open.
  3. Then at the lower part of the page there is room for a timeline.  You can have kids find some significant events or you can direct a discussion about the Civil Rights movement including events in order and have all the kids write the same events on their timeline.  We recommend narrowing it down to ten or fewer events to fit in this small space.  You can use the Civil Rights timeline to help you pick some dates.

Civil Rights Bus 1

Here is the Civil Rights Bus pdf printable.  Click on the link or click below on the image.

Civil Rights Bus

Additional Layers

  • There were many more leaders of the Civil Rights movement.  It wasn’t a cause with one single leader or even one single set of methods or goals.  And yet most of the aims of this movement were met.  How was it possible to achieve a paradigm shift in society without a centralized movement?
  • “Civil Rights” means rights that are granted by government or rights that are legal in nature.  For example, in many places segregation was the law of the land.  The Civil Rights movement was aimed at changing the laws.  Are there other rights besides legal ones or are all rights granted and controlled by government?  Should government control all rights?
  • Why do people discriminate against other groups?  Not only black people, but many other groups have been disliked, discriminated against, and even attacked and killed in America over its history including, Italians, Irish, Jews, Japanese, Mormons, Catholics, Chinese, and Muslims, plus others.
  • The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution declare equality and attempt  to protect people from the sorts of abuses that were happening to black people since the founding of the nation.  Why didn’t it work?  Since it didn’t work should we reject these documents altogether?
  • The “Rule of Law” means that everyone is subject to the same laws no matter what their position, wealth, race, sex, or other factors that may make up their individual situation in life.  How was the rule of law offended by Jim Crow laws?  Are there ways the rule of law is being offended today?  What are the consequences?

More From Layers of Learning

Printable Civil Rights Timeline and more activities to learn about MLK.
Printable Civil Rights Timeline and more activities to learn about MLK.

Learn about voting rights and the Women's Suffrage movement.
Learn about voting rights and the Women’s Suffrage movement.

How to use an abacus to help your kids get number sense.
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