Children’s Crusade Cityscape

In this art lesson on drawing cityscapes, students learn about Birmingham’s 1963 Children’s Crusade. Through picture books, first-person stories of people who lived in Birmingham during the time of the Children’s Crusade (primary sources), and inspirational music reflecting the time, students will connect the visual arts to historical civil rights events and their own cultures, and will express their own life experiences. Designed for grades 2-5; adaptable for middle school.
Class subject:
Art, History, Social studies, Alabama History
Alabama State Standards

Social Studies (2010)

Grade(s): 4

Alabama Studies

14 ) Analyze the modern Civil Rights Movement to determine the social, political, and economic impact on Alabama.

  • Recognizing important persons of the modern Civil Rights Movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr.; George C. Wallace; Rosa Parks; Fred Shuttlesworth; John Lewis; Malcolm X; Thurgood Marshall; Hugo Black; and Ralph David Abernathy
  • Describing events of the modern Civil Rights Movement, including the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, the Freedom Riders bus bombing, and the Selma-to-Montgomery March
  • Explaining benefits of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Brown versus Board of Education Supreme Court case of 1954
  • Using vocabulary associated with the modern Civil Rights Movement, including discrimination, prejudice, segregation, integration, suffrage, and rights


Arts Education (2017)

Grade(s): 2

Visual Arts

2) Explore personal interests and curiosities with a range of art materials.

  1. Create two-dimensional art.

Examples: Paper-weaving, drawing, and resist painting.

Use book about weaving, The Goat in the Rug by Charles L. Blood & Martin Link.


Arts Education (2017)

Grade(s): 2

Visual Arts

14) Create works of art about events in home, school, or community life.


Arts Education (2017)

Grade(s): 4

Visual Arts

14) Create works of art that reflect community and/or cultural traditions.

Examples: Create a quilt in the style of the Gee’s Bend Quilters.

Class Time

30-45 minutes or two 20-minute sessions

Learning Objectives

By Identifying and illustrating events critical to the community, students will connect the visual arts lesson to their own lives/cultures and express their own life experiences.

Classroom Activities

Before Lesson

  • Students will begin building prior knowledge about the events in Birmingham, Alabama–specifically on May 2nd, 1963.
  • Optional: Teachers can use a KWL chart to record responses.

During Lesson

  • Students and teachers will read/listen to four or more accounts from the Kids in Birmingham 1963 website.
  • The teacher then guides students in the directed drawing using lines and simple shapes. First, students will create the signs in the foreground at the bottom of their paper before drawing the buildings in the background.
  • Students will listen to the soundtrack provided in the attached slideshow while they choose the windows, symbols, messages, and more to complete their cityscape.

After the lesson

Students will discuss and share their artwork. They will also answer a reflection question on whether they would attend the Children’s March or not.

  • The Youngest Marcher by Cynthia Levenson
  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Optional: Dice, crayons, or other chosen materials for art creation
  • Optional: Chart paper or erase board for KWL chart (Know, Want, Learn)