Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activities
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January so it falls on or near his birthday, which is January the 15th. The foundation of almost all of my learning activities is books. The book I would like to start with, to aid in learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. is called, “Martin Luther King, JR. Day (Holidays, Festivals, & Celebrations)“ by Trudi Strain Trueit. The suggested reading level for this book is 5 years old and up so this activity may work for a little bit older child than some of my previous posts.
Because of the way the book is divided, you could either read through the whole thing at once or read one or two sections at a time. The book really isn’t very long so I would probably read through the whole thing first and then go back and reread or simply discuss some of the parts while introducing some of the following activities.
After reading through the book, go back to page 4. It mentions that M.L.’s mother said that some people didn’t realize that beneath the skin everyone was the same. To emphasize this point conduct this simple lesson that I found on Pinterest. The activity came from The First Grade Parade blog.
Here is how Mrs. Carroll suggests doing this activity:
1. Show your child a white egg and a brown egg.
2. Have them discuss how the eggs are the same and how they are different.
3. Remove the eggs from the child’s sight and break them open on a plate. Leave the egg shells out of sight.
4. Ask the child if they can tell which egg came out of the white shell and which came out of the brown shell.
5. Conclusion: We may look different on the outside but we are all the same on the inside.
On page 12 of the book, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Holidays, Festivals & Celebrations)” by Trudi Strain Trueit, It talks about the famous, “I Have a Dream”, speech. The wonderful thing about the times we live in is that we have easy access to history. Your child can actually see Martin Luther King, Jr. giving his speech. Here is a YouTube clip you can share with your child. It doesn’t take very long and he gives the speech with such passion that it holds your attention.
YouTube Video of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech:
“I Have a Dream” August 28, 1963
I found another cute craft on Pinterest that I would like to share with you. It came from the Teach Preschool blog. It goes along with the “I Have a Dream” speech. Another book I would suggest in preparation for this craft is, “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Ready to Read, Level 1)” by Margaret McNamara. Although, the book doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Martin Luther King, Jr. it does discuss the “I Have a Dream” concept quite a bit. I like using this in preparation for the craft because it gives the child some ideas of the kinds of dreams that Martin Luther King, Jr. might have had; such as dreaming that no one would be poor or that everyone would play together nicely. Giving the children some direction through reading this book may result in more answers that dream about the welfare of others instead of dreams of getting more candy or going to Disney World.
“I Have a Dream” Cloud Craft
from Teach Preschool
White construction paper or poster-board
pen or marker
1. From the white construction paper or poster-board, cut out some cloud shapes.
2. If your child is too young to write then record what their dream would be on the cloud.
3. Put glue around the edge of the cloud and take cotton balls and pull them apart to stretch them and lay them in the glue.
4. Now you can hang your child’s dreams around the house and remember what Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed for this country.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Holiday House Reader) by David A. Adler
Reading Level: Ages 6 and up
Learn about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his dreams. His dreams that all people would be treated the same. Find out how he tried to change laws with peaceful actions. One of my favorite quotes from the books is, “He taught his followers to fight hate with love.” We would all be better off if we could remember that.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (On My Own Holidays) by Linda Lowery
Reading Level: Ages 7 and up
This is a very interesting and informative book about the struggles that Martin Luther King, Jr. faced during his lifetime. You will read about his hurt and disappointment when he is no longer allowed to play with his best friend; a little white boy. You will read how much Martin Luther King, Jr. loved to learn and was an excellent student. But most importantly, you will get to find out how much he wanted peace and for people to be treated equally, no matter the color of their skin.
Martin Luther King, JR. Day (Holidays, Festivals, & Celebrations) by Trudi Strain Trueit
Reading Level: Ages 5 and up
I love this book. There is a lot of historical information for a picture book. It is well written and not overwhelming. The book is broken down into eight chapters. Six of the chapters cover the story of Martin Luther King, Jr.. The chapters are very short and great for a young listener or reader. The longest chapter is two pages long and consists of nine sentences. The book explains what it was like for Martin Luther King, Jr. when he was a young boy growing up in the south. You will read about the way his family influenced his life. They encouraged him to be proud but peaceful. I plan on using this book as the basis for a lesson for pre-kindergarten and older. I highly recommend it.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Ready-to-Read. Level 1) by Margaret McNamara
Reading Level: Ages 4 and up
I enjoyed this book. It is a fun read but it doesn’t really talk a lot about the great things that Martin Luther King, Jr. accomplished. It mostly talks about him having a dream. It does say that he dreamed the world would be a better place but that is about all the information you get. I have seen a cute activity where kids write down their dreams, for the world, on little clouds. I would use this book to set up that activity but if I was really wanting my children to learn something about Martin Luther King, Jr., I would choose a different book.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the March on Washington (Penguin Young Readers, L3) by Frances E. Ruffin
Reading Level: Ages 5 and up
This book is specifically about the march on Washington, D.C.. It tells about the events that led up to this peaceful protest. Pick up this book and find out what kind of changes were made in our country because of the march on Washington and why these changes were needed.