Perfect for distance learning, this set of sensory figures, also known as body biographies, are great for characterization or biography projects and helping students analyze people or characters from multiple angles. Choose to use the traditional printable version or the paperless digital Google Slides™ version. This set was inspired by Vashti Harrison’s best-selling picture book “Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History.” This resource would be a great way to help your students really think about these women’s lives after they read about them in the book. This activity also makes a great Black History Month or Women’s History Month addition!
Read more about how sensory figures are great for biography projects and can enhance a variety of your lessons below. If you’re looking for a print only version of this resource, find it here.
This set includes a diverse collection of 40 black women who have played a role in changing the world:
-Alice Ball: chemist; developed first successful treatment for leprosy
-Alma Woodsey Thomas: painter and art educator
-Althea Gibson: tennis player; first black athlete to cross the color line of tennis
-Angela Davis: political activist, academic, and author
-Audre Lorde: writer, feminist, womanist, librarian, and civil rights activist
-Augusta Savage: sculptor associated with the Harlem Renaissance
-Bessie Coleman: pilot; first Black woman to hold a pilot license
-Charlotte E. Ray: first Black American female lawyer in the United States
-Dominique Dawes: first Black woman to join the National Gymnastics Team
-Ella Fitzgerald: jazz singer dubbed “the First Lady of Song” + “the Queen of Jazz”
-Florence Griffith Joyner: gold medalist; considered the fastest woman of all time
-Gwen Ifill: award-winning journalist, television newscaster, and author
-Gwendolyn Brooks: writer, poet
-Harriet Tubman: abolitionist and political activist
-Ida B. Wells: journalist, educator, leader in the Civil Rights Movement
-Josephine Baker: singer, dancer
-Julie Dash: film director, writer, producer
-Katherine Johnson: NASA mathematician featured in “Hidden Figures”
-Lorna Simpson: photographer and multimedia artist
-Mae Jemison: first Black woman to travel in space
-Mahalia Jackson: gospel singer
-Mamie Phipps Clark: social psychologist
-Marcelite Harris: first Black female general officer of the United States Air Force
-Marian Anderson: one of the most celebrated singers of the twentieth century
-Mary Bowser: Union spy during the Civil War
-Mary Eliza Mahoney: first African American to work as a nurse in the US
-Maya Angelou: poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist
-Nichelle Nichols: groundbreaking television actress
-Nina Simone: singer, pianist, and activist in the Civil Rights Movement
-Octavia E. Butler: award-winning science fiction writer
-Oprah Winfrey: seriously?!? … it’s Oprah!
-Phillis Wheatley: first published African-American female poet
-Raven Wilkinson: first Black woman to dance for a major classical ballet company
-Rebecca Lee Crumpler: first Black woman to become a physician in the US
-Rosa Parks: civil rights activist known for her role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott
-Ruby Bridges: first Black child to desegregate an all-White elementary school
-Shirley Chisholm: first Black woman elected to the United States Congress,
-Sojourner Truth: abolitionist and women’s rights activist
-Wilma Rudolph: gold medalist; acclaimed the fastest woman in the world
-Zora Neal Hurston: influential author of African-American literature
*New* Download a free example sensory figure here!
⭐ Theodore Roosevelt Sensory Figure Example
A sensory figure is a drawing of a historical, living, or fictional figure with first-person descriptions of what they might have thought, seen, heard, touched, said, felt, or otherwise experienced during their lifetime. Students “show what they know” about the figure by writing 1-2 sentence descriptions for their figure’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. After writing the descriptions, students connect them to the part of the body to which it most closely relates. For example, a feeling might be connected to the heart. The descriptions should be specific to the historical figure’s life, not generic statements that could apply to anyone. Students should be encouraged to address several topics in their descriptions instead of repeating information.
Sensory figures are an engaging way for students to both organize information as they’re learning and demonstrate their knowledge. They can be used to research the figure in a biography project or even as an assessment after other learning opportunities have taken place. Sensory figures allow students to imagine themselves in their figure’s shoes, thereby gaining a deeper understanding of their figure’s experiences. In addition to focusing on specific people, sensory figures can also be used with groups of people (for example, Confederate soldiers or Loyalists) to define the characteristics that separate them from other groups. Because of their interactive nature, sensory figures are great for interactive notebooks! Finally, they are readily adapted in order to meet a variety of student needs. You can give all students the same figure to fill out, or you can have them complete different ones. I’ve found that students enjoy sharing their figures with partners or doing a gallery walk to see their classmates’ work. You can reinforce vocabulary associated with the figures by providing a word bank of terms students should use in their descriptions.
You may also be interested in other sensory figures:
⭐ Black Historical Sensory Figures
⭐ Historical Figures & Cultural Icons Sensory Figures
⭐ Historical Americans Sensory Figures
⭐ Athletes and Sports Sensory Figures
⭐ Early Peoples and Ancient Civilizations Sensory Figures Bundle
⭐ Scientists and Inventors Sensory Figures
⭐ Women in History Sensory Figures
If you’re interested in other social studies related products, please visit my store!