Martin Luther King Activities for Kids
Teach kindness and friendship to young children with these Martin Luther King activities for kids.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
To honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, there is a United States federal holiday on the third Monday in January. Since MLK Jr.’s birthday was on January 15th, our great nation has chosen to honor him in a special way – year after year.
Today, my kindergarten and first grade reading intervention groups, added the Martin Luther King poem for kids to their poetry notebook, then completed the interactive pocket chart poem activity with their peers.
Martin Luther King Activities for Kids
Teaching about Dr. Martin Luther King to younger grades, such as Prek, kindergarten, and first grade, can be difficult. The civil rights movement, and MLK’s violent death, are ok for a high school student to process, but not the little ones.
Instead, we want kids to know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders, for the content of their character.
MLK was a man of peace, a leader of change, a problem-solver, and that he wanted everyone to get along regardless the color of their skin. To keep the lesson developmentally appropriate, you can use poems, songs, and books, to celebrate Martin Luther King day and Black History Month.
1. Martin Luther King Poem
Since MLK day is in January, this a great way to kick off the new year with a reminder of the important things in life. Treating others with kindness helps wash out the difficulties of today.
Had a Dream
That we would work as a team.
We shouldn’t care about
the color of our skin.
Let’s get along and be good friends.
The kids will home singing this MLK song to their families!
After your kids learn about MLK with this simple bio poem, let them add simple drawings to their poem. You can then hang them on a bulletin board to create an oasis of freedom and kindness.
To extend our learning about MLK Jr., we revisited the poem several times throughout the week. In kindergarten reading groups, we did an echo reading, followed by a shared reading.
In first grade groups, we located rhyming words, did a shared reading, independent read aloud, and paired reading. When done, we added the Martin Luther King poem for kids to our poetry notebooks.
To finish off our lesson, I created a Build a Poem poetry center to go along with the Dr. King poem. I will show you, below, how to set this poetry center up in no time!
If you’re interested in more poetry, be sure to grab your FREE Poetry Guide.
2. Martin Luther King Pocket Chart Poem
To create a pocket chart poetry center, grab the Martin Luther King Build a Poem.
Then, simply hang the poem as a reference, place the word cards in a container, or place them in mixed up order on the bottom of the pocket chart.
Every word is printed in large text on it’s own card. You no longer need to write the poem on sentence strips and cut apart each word. The work is done for you!
The students will use the word cards to build the Martin Luther King poem, and read aloud with their peers when finished.
3. Storytime with Martin Luther King, Jr. Books
Choose age-appropriate books that tell the story of Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of equality and justice.
There are several picture books below designed for young children that introduce MLK’s life and work in a simple and relatable way.
After reading the story, engage the kids in a discussion about the importance of treating everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of their appearance or background.
- The Story of Martin Luther King Jr., by Christine Platt
- I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
- Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
- I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- National Geographic Readers: Martin Luther King, Jr.
4. “I Have a Dream” Craft
Help the kids understand the famous “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. by encouraging them to create their own “dream clouds.”
Provide each child with a piece of paper shaped like a cloud and ask them to draw or write about their dreams for a better and more equal world.
Allow them to express their ideas freely and discuss their dreams as a group, fostering an atmosphere of empathy and understanding.
5. Diversity Collage
Teach the concept of diversity and its value by organizing a collage-making activity.
Provide the kids with various magazines or printed images representing people from different ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and abilities. Ask the children to cut out these images and create a collage that celebrates diversity and inclusion.
Use this activity as an opportunity to explain to them that we should appreciate and embrace the uniqueness of every individual, just like Martin Luther King Jr. advocated for.
Little black boys and black girls, little white boys, little white girls, and children of all races will learn a lot from your social studies lessons on MLK.
Remember to keep the activities age-appropriate and emphasize simple, positive messages. Your focus will be on the importance of kindness, equality, and understanding. Also, use clear and relatable language to ensure the children can grasp the ideas easily.
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