A student displays a placard reads "A Have a Dream" during a ceremony organized by the National Park Service (NPS) to celebrate the 82nd birthday anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2011.

A student displays a placard reads “A Have a Dream” during a ceremony organized by the National Park Service (NPS) to celebrate the 82nd birthday anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, on January 13, 2011. (Jewel Sadam/AFP/Getty Images)

7 Ways to teach your kids the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day

On Monday, the country will be celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  A civil rights leader who led peaceful protests to fight for equality, he may be best remembered for his famous “I Have a Dream” speech issued on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. This holiday is an incredible opportunity to teach your children not only about the courageous Dr. King, but more importantly, to help them understand the message he brought. We’ve scoured the web to find resources you can use to develop your own child’s sense of kindness, peace, and love.

Books for MLKA recipe for understanding

Fun in K/1 has one of the best activities for teaching equality despite differences.  Their Recipe for Understanding project uses two eggs – one brown, the other white – to show children in a clever way how just because we see things differently on the outside, doesn’t mean that they are different on the inside. Fun in K/1 has a whole packet for exploring Martin Luther King, Jr., but you can download this lesson and a venn diagram for free on their site. Just click on the title above.

The MLK Jr. Felt Story Board

We love this simple and creative craft from Growing Up Blackxican. It is perfect for teaching young children in preschool and kindergarten the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. Not only does Ruby provide a template for creating your own felt story board characters, but she also shares the script she used for teaching her own children the story.

“I Have a Dream” Speech Craft
For kids in third grade and higher, Crayola has put together this fun craft to develop their writing and critical thinking skills. Kids read the text from Martin Luther King’s speech and then write an acrostic poem using the letters from the word “DREAM.” This activity makes your child really focus on the words and message behind the speech.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Dream Speech & Activities

For kids in sixth grade and higher, consider downloading this free activity pack centered around Dr. King’s famous speech. It includes figurative language questions, general questions, social studies research project, writing prompt, word scramble, reader’s theatre (theater) script example, service project, and additional activities.

Read about him

There’s no better way to capture a child’s attention than by reading him a book. Below are three great books to introduce Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work to your child.

Martin’s Big Words written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Bryan Collier

This stunning picture book weaves Dr. King’s own words into the story line to bring this book to life in a way that young children can understand.

King’s Courage by Stacia Deutsch and Rhody Cohon

This is number four in the Blast to the Past series of chapter books for children. The series follows the adventures of four kids who travel back in time meeting famous people in history and helping to keep them on course. In King’s Courage, Abigail, Zack, Jacob and Bo meet Dr. King and encourage him to lead one of his most famous voting-rights marches.

America in the Time of Martin Luther King Jr.: The Story of Our Nation from Coast to Coast, from 1948 to 1976 by Sally Senzell Isaacs

A valuable source of information for people of any age, this book describes the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who helped to shape the history of our nation. It also shares what life was like for Americans in that period of time.

7 Ways to teach your kids the meaning of Martin Luther King Jr. Day monica oliveras profile small 1 parenting family NBC Latino Newsc

Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.

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