Jo S. Kittinger
Children's Author, Speaker & Artist
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Make the most of Rosa's Bus in your classroom

ROSA'S BUS:The Ride to Civil Rights
 Teaching Activities

Teaching Activities are intended for use at home, in the classroom, and during story-times.

 Questions to Ask Children Before Reading the Book
(Click here for PDF)
  1. Look at the cover. What does the cover illustration show?
  2. From this picture, what do you think the book is about?
  3. The title of this book is Rosa's Bus. Does that tell you what the book is about?
  4. Have any of you ridden a bus before? Was it a city bus or a school bus? Who can tell me some differences between the two?

 "What Do You Know?" Chart
(Click here for PDF)

Use the chart from this link to allow students to indicate their knowledge of the topic prior to reading Rosa's Bus. Then, after reading the story, students can see if their answers were right or wrong.

 Follow-Up Questions
(Click here for PDF)
Now that you've read the book, let's go back. Here are some questions and activities for further exploration. Choose those that fit your time and/or needs.

1. Do you think the title is the best one for the book?
2. Did the cover give you a good idea of what the book was about?
3. If not, why do you think the publisher used this picture for the cover?
4. Look at all the faces in the book. Why do you think the artists drew the faces showing very little emotion?
5. Why was not riding the buses hard for the black people?
6. What do you know about the location where this story took place?
7. How would you describe Rosa Parks?
8. Have you ever decided to stand up against something you thought was wrong?
9. Have you ever been treated differently because of your skin color, gender, or religion?
10. What are civil rights?
11. Have you heard any other stories about the civil rights movement?

 Reading Comprehension Questions
(Click here for PDF)

  1. How were things different for black people and white people who rode the bus at the beginning of the book?
  2. What could happen if a black person disobeyed the bus driver?
  3. What time of year was it when the bus boycott began?
  4. How did word of the bus boycott spread among black people?
  5. How did the bus boycott affect black people?
  6. How did it affect other people?
  7. What brought an end to the bus boycott?
  8. Why do you think it took so long before the bus was put in a museum?

What Do Children Already Know—Activity Conclusion
(this section included on Chart pdf above)
  • Do the children have any more questions about Rosa Parks and the bus boycott? If so, write them down on the chart.
  • Identify whether the information was verified and how.
  • If the question was not answered by the book, look the information up in a reliable source and note where it was confirmed.
  • Wrap it all up by adding notes with new information that the children learned either through the reading or the research while looking up something else.

 Fun Activities to Engage Your Students

Activity #1
"We Shall Overcome" was a popular song among civil rights activists. Teach it to your students.

Activity #2
 Have students draw their own cover for the book.

Activity #3
 Have students act out the incident on the bus. Designate people with light clothing to be white, dark clothing to be black.

 Vocabulary Word Race
(Click here for PDF)

This game is designed to stimulate children's thinking related to the subject at hand. The end result is a list of vocabulary words for the class.
  • Display or project the book's cover illustration.
  • Set a timer for 3-5 minutes and instruct children to write down as many words as they can think of related to the book's subject .
  • The list may include nouns, verbs and /or adjectives.
  • When the timer goes off, pencils are set down.
  • Have each child then read off the words on his or her list.
  • If anyone else has the same word they raise their hand and mark it off their list. (As each new child recites his/her list, they read only words that have not yet been mentioned.)
  • If the reader is the only one with a word, they circle the word.
  • Enlist one volunteer ( or the teacher) to write all unique words on the white board and on large index cards.
  • When all is finished, the child with the most unique words circled wins the game.
  • If a child uses an inappropriate word, the proper usage should be explained and the word disallowed from counting in the game.
 Vocabulary Roundup
(Click here for PDF)

Activity #1
Word Sort

  • Using the vocabulary words that the class came up with in the Word Race, sort the word cards into nouns, verbs, and adjectives.
  • On the back of each card write which type of word it is.
  • The cards can now be shuffled and drawn from, to be used in the Crazy Paragraph found below.
Activity #2
Use it or Lose It

  • Assign one (or more) of the vocabulary words to each student.
  • Have each student write a sentence using their word(s) on a strip(s) of paper.
  • Divide the class into small groups and have them assemble their strips into the best paragraph possible.
  • Have the groups re-write and add to their paragraph to create a better paragraph or story.
Activity #3
FabLib Activity

Humor is a fun way to increase student's appetite for learning. This silly paragraph activity improves understanding of sentence structure and word usage, as well as reviewing facts of the story. Before reading the paragraph, draw words from the cards created in “Word Sort” activity, or simply call on students to provide the necessary words to fill in the blanks. After reading the resulting FabLib paragraph, let children fill in more accurate words from the book.

Geography, Math, Rhymes & Lightening the Load

 Lighten the Load

Share some funny books about buses such as Busasaurus Bop by Diane Z. Shore and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems.

 Bus Rhyme Time

Let children come up with words that rhyme with bus and then write a poem about a bus.

  • Trace the life of Rosa’s Bus on a United States Map.
  • The bus was built in Pontiac, Michigan in March 1948.
  • From there it went into service in Terre Haute, Indiana from 1948-1954.
  • Then it was moved to Montgomery, Alabama, where it was in service from 1954-1971.
  • After sitting in a field for many years, it was finally purchased by the Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan in 2001 and put on display in 2003.  

  • Using facts above, determine how many years the bus was in each location.
  • The bus boycott began on December 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks, an African American woman, was arrested for refusing to surrender her seat to a white man, and continued until December 20, 1956.In some sources the bus boycott is said to have lasted 381 days, in other sources it says 382 days. Why? Some people fail to account for the extra day in leap year in 1956.

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