Teaching Heart's Martin Luther King Day Theme!

Ideas, Books, Songs, Lessons, and much more for your classroom...

Martin Luther King was a man who believed in using nonviolent methods to gain justice and equality for all people.
Celebrate him in your classroom with these great ideas!

Updated January 2012


Great Children's Literature For Martin Luther King Day!

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King

I Have a Dream

If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King

Young Martin Luther King, Jr. : 'I Have a Dream' (First-Start Biographies)
Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Dream of Martin Luther King
Dear Dr. King : Letters from Today's Children to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King and His Family Paper Dolls in Full Color

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Circle the Year With Holidays Series)

Oh, Freedom! : Kids Talk About the Civil Rights Movement With the People Who Made It Happen
Martin Luther King

Click here for a Printable to Match!

Martin Luther King, Jr. : Young Man With a Dream

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr

See Ideas For This Book Below!

The Civil Rights Movement for Kids : A History With 21 Activities

Peace Begins With You


Listen to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s historic address to civil rights marchers that took place on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. You can find it at The History Channel's Great Speeches Web site. (You will need RealAudio Plug-in to listen to the speech.) Talk about Dr. King's dream for the future. Then think about your dreams for the future. Draw an outline of a cloud, and inside the cloud, write a sentence or two that describes one of your hopes and dreams.

He is a unit filled with ideas Presidents' Day & Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Thematic Unit

Create a timeline that shows the important dates in the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (See The Dr. King Timeline Page at Buckman Elementary School to get some ideas.)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Lesson Plan (grades K-2)

Watch this VHS with your class ~ Martin Luther King, Jr. - "I Have a Dream" (1986)

Listen to In Search Of Freedom: Excerpts From His Most Memorable Speeches [Spoken Word] (click to learn more).

Martin Luther King: Civil Rights Leader - Students read about King's life, and answer questions about his contributions. Printable handouts are provided

See this online guide

Arts and Crafts

Things To Print and Share With Your Class!

The sheet above and below are From The Teaching Heart CDROM - Click to learn more!!!

You can download the sheet above for free. Just click here! Students read the text and illustrate a picture in the thinking cloud.

Many Wonderful MLK ideas like the below from Preschool Daze! Click to see even more on their blog!

Finally in First has a Great MLK post with many ideas like the one below. Click here to see more!

Check out this cute Freedom Bell from Kids Soup. You can learn how to make it here...


Sing a Song!

Sing these songs with your class.

(Children are clapping hands) 

Dr. King, Dr. King, Dr. King was a civil rights leader 
Dr. King Dr. king he had a dream (children take each others hands and sway back and forth) 
He wanted everybody to love one another 
He wanted everybody to love one another 
He wanted everybody to love one another that was his dream (clapping hands) 
Dr. King, Dr. King Dr. King was a civil rights leader 
Dr. King Dr. King he had a dream!

Happy Birthday, Dr. King
to the tune of "Yankee Doodle"

Dr. King was a man
Who had a special dream.
He dreamed of a world filled with love
And peace and harmony.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King,
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King.
We honor you today.

Harmony and Peace
to the tune of "B-I-N-G-O"

Dr. King taught us to live
In harmony and peace--
In harmony and peace.

He taught us not to fight or quarrel,
But love one another.
L-O-V-E, Love!
L-O-V-E, Love!
L-O-V-E, Love!
He said to love each other.

Finger play
I treat my friends (point to friends)
How I like them to treat me. (point to self)
That's the Golden Rule, you see.
If I'm kind and polite.(point to self)
My friends wil treat me right. (point to friends)
Everyday will be such fun.
Love is good for everyone. (place hands over heart)



A special thanks to the teachers who are always willing to share with others!
These ideas come from the Teaching is a Work of Heart Mailring and the Primary
Chatboard at TNET. I tried to give credit if a name was posted with the idea.

use the book The Land Of Many Colors to open a discussion
about segregation, and that leads perfectly into a study of
MLK. Posted by barb on 1/03/03

Last year I created a book about 5 African Americans who were inventors. Each day the children created a project and glued it into the book I developed. I don't remember all the inventers but off the top of my head they invented the traffic light, icecream scoop and golf tee. Posted by M&M on 1/03/03

I do an activity with brown eggs and white eggs. I have the students each choose one and look closely at their egg. We discuss similarities and differences in the outside appearance of the eggs---color variations, some are bumpy, some elongated, some almost round, some are grainy-looking, some have ripples in the shell, some are spotted, etc.

Then I ask if they think the eggs are different on the inside?Depending on the time frame I have to do this in, I sometimes create a graph with paper eggs and placing the paper eggs under titles, "Same" or "Different". And, again, I've done this next part a couple of different ways. I like to have each child crack their own egg into a clear plastic or glass container so that each child can readily see that the eggs when cracked open are all the same. It is a bit messy, but I think the lesson learned is very valuable. Sometimes, if there are no allergy problems to worry about and if I have time, I will cook the eggs and let the kids eat them for snack. Otherwise I have a refrigerator and just take them home to cook. It is a wonderful opportunity to talk about our differences and how we are much like the eggs---all a little different on the outside, but the same inside. I have had very positive comments from parents about this activity. It seems to teach the concept better than any other method I've found....that and also discussing Ruby Parks and asking children how they would feel if I created a rule that only children with blond hair could go to recess or only those with blue eyes could jump rope, etc.----this never fails to get them to respond with, "That's not fair!" and then we discuss why it isn't fair and the fact that many years ago, we had some very silly rules. Posted by Jacque/WA/K-1 on 1/03/03

For MLK day, a third grade teacher and I usually make a Friendship Snack with the kids.  Each food has a meaning.  I have the recipe at school.  will post it next week.I usually make a red, white and blue bell with the kids.  We take a blue sheet of construction paper and paint it using balloons and red and white paint.  When it dries, we trace a bell onto the paper and cut it out.  On a white bell shaped piece of paper we write our dreams for society.  I connect them by punching a hole in the top and use red and white curling ribbon to tie them together.  I also punch a hole in the bottom of the blue bell and add a jingle bell to it.  I post them with the "Let Freedom Ring" caption. Lisa/1/PA Visit our classroom: http://www.geocities.com/mrslisamaried/welcometoourclassroom.html

I have a picture of MLK and we usually start a few weeks before his birthday talking about charactertraits he had. We talk about perserverance especially
mainly because we are winding down our year getting close to the standardized tests. One of our targets this year as in the past few years is vocabulary and so we begin to expand our vocabulary while talking about character traits. I usually cut sentence strips and put each word on a strip and that becomes our vocabulary word of the day. Then we compare the character traits we have talked about to various characters in the stories we read each week. My kids have really enjoyed this in the past and I look forward to doing this each year with them. I usually have the librarian (that's me in the afternoon) show
the video My Friend Martin. This helps the students think about character traits even more. David Tipton


Read, Read, Read to Your Class

Ideas for : A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr (Adler, David A. Picture Book Biography.)
David A. Adler, Robert Casilla (Illustrator)

Get the book in paper back / Get the hard cover

Before Reading the Story

1.) Introduce these words below and discuss the meaning of them before reading the book. You may choose to place these on cutouts of clouds or on chart paper. protests, freedome, fair, character, marches, peace, slaves, & prejudice.

2.) Pose the thought and question; People are often treated differently because of their skin color. Why do you think this happens? What can we do to treat people equally?

3.) Ask the class if they have ever been treated unfairly by someone, how did it make them feel?

4.) Begin your lesson on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., by assessing your students' prior knowledge using a K-W-L chart. List on a chart the facts that your students know about King. Next, ask them to tell you what they want to know about him. After you read a variety of books, have students tell you what they have learned about him.

After Reading the Story

1.) Ask the class why they think MLK's was important to people of our country?

2.) Make friendship collages from old magazines. The children can cutout things such as smiles, hands, people together, friends, hearts, and other helpful or friendly looking pictures. To make this even more special; have each student pick a friend in the class to get their picture taken with. They can place the developed picture in the collage. Have each child glue his/her pictures to a heart of their choice. You may wish to display the hearts in your hallway as a reminder to spread love through friendship!

3.) Discuss with the class MLK's famous quote; "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." Ask you students to share their dreams for their families, friends, themselves, and the world. Brainstorm some of the dreams onto chart paper as a group. Next click here to print a dream pattern for your students. Now have each child write an I have a dream sentence on the lines provided. After they have completed their sentence allow them to illustrate it in the space provided. Finally glue the finished product to a paper plate and have each student decorate the outside of the plate.

4.) Click here to print out a sheet needed for this activity. Discuss with your students how everyone is different. You may start out by pointing out a difference between yourself and a few other students. "I have blonde hair and Sally had red hair. I am a girl and Russell is a boy." Then discuss how differences make us special and what it would be like if everyone in the world was the same. Next hand out the sheet and instruct the students to draw a picture of themself and a friend. Then have them write about one difference and one thing that is simular between them and their friend.

Great Children's Literature For Black History Month!

Black Books Galore! Guide to Great African American Children's Books about Boys

Black Books Galore! Guide to Great African American Children's Books about Girls

Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth

Virgie Goes to School With Us Boys (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Books)

Vision of Beauty: The Story of Sarah Breedlove Walker

Uptown (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner)
Let It Shine: Stories of Black Women Freedom Fighters (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books)
Francie (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Books)
Harlem: A Poem (Caldecott Honor Book)
Duke Ellington: The Piano Prince and His Orchestra (Caldecott Honor Book)
In Daddy's Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers
Soul Looks Back in Wonder
Bright Eyes, Brown Skin (A Feeling Good Book)
In the Time of the Drums (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner)


More Ideas

I have a dream mobile. Give each child a hanger. On a large cloud shaped paper have them write I have a Dream... Then on smaller clouds have the child write 4 dreams they have. Attach the large cloud to the open area of the hanger with tape. Attach the smaller clouds with yarn.

Teaching Heart - 2012