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Incorporating MLK Into Your Teaching Day

By Kriscia Cabral on January 9, 2014
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

January brings an opportunity to learn, reflect, and share as a class an understanding of a man that stood for peace in this world. Read on to find a lesson that works best for you and your class when honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.

Virtual Museum

This idea came directly from Christy Crawford's "Five Ways to Celebrate MLK" post. Print out the QR codes I've used or create your own. Have students scan the codes and view the short video clips. I created four different clips for my kids with four different activities. Here are the directions and QR scans I used for my class. Feel free to print them and use for your students as well.


Writing the Dream

The "I Have a Dream" speech is one that we discuss as a whole class. We read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream Speech in Translation: What It Really Means by Leslie J. Holland. Here is a step-by-step of how this lesson is used with fourth and fifth grade students.

  • Listen to or watch the speech

  • Have students reflect on a "Wonder Wall" or a "Graffiti Wall"

  • Share "Wall" comments

  • Read the book 

  • Pose the question, "What if you could share a dream for the world? What would it be?"

  • Pass out the outline for students

  • Have students write their own speeches using the outline or by creating their own.

  • Optional — record students sharing their speeches. Share them with other classes, or go global! Post speeches online via Kidblog.


Inspired Art

Incorporating art is always an engaging way to capture student interest. Caldecott Honor Winner Kadir Nelson illustrated a beautiful book with Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. The pictures are breathtaking, catching the attention of children of any age. Scholastic spotlights illustrator Kadir Nelson in their "Read Every Day" campaign. Along with videos, a read aloud, and recommended books, we will use Nelson's video to inspire our thinking for Scholastic's art challenge this year.

There are many ways to celebrate the life of Dr. King. The overall message I hope to share with my students is the idea of dreaming big and not just for themselves but for others. Dr. King spoke of freedom and peace for all. How do you plan to share his message with your students?

I'd love to hear from you!




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