Garrett Morgan Art Activity:
Traffic Lights

Ages 3+years, adult assistance required

Garrett Morgan was born in Paris, Kentucky, on March 4, 1877, and was the seventh of 11 children. He invented the three position traffic signal. After witnessing an accident on a roadway, Morgan decided a device was needed to keep cars, buggies and pedestrians from colliding.

His traffic signal was designed to stand on a street corner and notify vehicles and walkers whether they should stop or go.  After receiving a patent in 1923, the rights to the invention were eventually purchased by General Electric. 

Stop light craft
Traffic LIsghts

What You Need:                                                            

  • Colored paper: red, yellow, green and orange or black
  • scissors
  • glue sticks

What to Do:

  1. Have the children cut out large rectangles out of orange or black paper for the traffic light.
  2. Have the children cut red, yellow and green paper for the signals.
  3. Glue in the appropriate area on the traffic lights.

Additional Information:

Prior to his invention, most traffic signs in use had only two positions: stop and go. These manually operated two-position signals were an improvement over uncontrolled intersections, but because they allowed no interval between stop and go commands, collisions at busy intersections were common.

Morgan’s signal was a T-shaped pole that featured three positions: stop, go, and an all-direction stop position. This third position halted traffic in all directions before vehicles were allowed to proceed on either of the intersection’s roads. This feature not only made it less dangerous for motorists to travel through intersections but also allowed pedestrians to cross safely.  

Kids Black History
Who Invented the Traffic Light?