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January 10, 2019

5 Ways to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Elena Constantinou

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with five free resources from Scholastic Magazines. 

Grades 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential leaders of the civil rights movement. Teaching about his leadership and legacy can help students understand how current events are influenced by the past and build empathy. Here are five fresh and engaging ways to help you celebrate Dr. King. 

    1. Meet Dr. King’s Granddaughter 

    Scholastic News recently interviewed Dr. King’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King. She spoke about her grandfather’s legacy and how she is keeping his dream alive. The young activist is already following in the footsteps of her famous grandfather. She recently gave a speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Her advice for kids will empower your students. After students read the article, have them analyze and react to quotations from the interview using the “Yolanda’s Words” skills sheet. 

    Grade 3: Interview and Skills Sheet

    Grade 4: Interview and Skills Sheet 

    Grades 5 and 6: Interview and Skills Sheet 

    2. Inspire Students to Plan Service Projects

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only national holiday that is also a national day of service. It’s the perfect opportunity for a project-based learning activity. Start by brainstorming a class list of project ideas. You can then vote on a project to complete as a class, or split students into small groups based on their interests. Use the “A Day to Serve” skills sheet to have students plan their projects. You can also visit www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday for more ideas and resources. Then encourage students to turn words into action!

    Here are some service project ideas to get you started:

    • fund-raisers to support a cause
    • collecting items for people who are homeless or who have been affected by a natural disaster
    • food drives
    • making crafts or cards for hospital patients
    • building something to enhance the community
    • volunteering at an animal shelter

    3. Build Background Knowledge with Videos 

    What made Dr. King such a powerful speaker and memorable leader? Scholastic magazines’ videos chronicle Dr. King’s upbringing, education and philosophy. They show how he became the face of the civil rights movement. They also explain key events in the civil rights movement that are essential to understanding the time period. 

    Use the videos below to teach media-literacy skills and help students engage in critical thinking. Before playing the video, you can give students an active-listening task. For example, you might have students list key dates and important events in Dr. King’s life as they watch. After watching the video once, play it again and pause to discuss key ideas and check for understanding. 

    Grade 3

    Grades 4–6

    Grades 7–8  

    4. Explore Civil Rights Text Sets

    Text sets are collections of articles curated by the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines. Many teachers use text sets for independent reading, while others use them for whole-class or small-group instruction. Text sets can help you inspire students to read, gain content knowledge and synthesize information. For elementary students, the Scholastic News Civil Rights Movement text set includes a variety of articles and videos about heroes of the movement, as well as corresponding skills sheets. Here are a few of the skills sheets you’ll find in the text set: 

    • Words to Know: Before reading, have students define and practice using domain-specific vocabulary to discuss and write about the civil rights movement. 

    • Close-Reading Questions: After reading, have students answer text-dependent questions by rereading and citing text evidence. 

    • Write About It!: Explore essential questions and prepare students for standardized tests by guiding them to write an informative paragraph. 

    For secondary students, the Upfront Civil Rights text set includes articles on Dr. King’s early life, his activism, and his legacy. His work continues to inspire the pursuit of racial equality in America. You can find the article “MLK 50 Years Later,” plus videos on the Jim Crow South and on Dr. King’s pivotal role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

    5. Examine Primary Sources 

    Teaching with primary sources helps students become critical and analytical thinkers. Examining Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is a great way to study the power of his words. These Scholastic News skills sheets help students analyze some of the most memorable parts of his speech while guiding them to focus on word choice and oratory techniques such as repetition. 

    Grade 3

    Grade 4

    Grades 5 and 6

    Experience more Scholastic Magazines — subscribe today and save!

    Elena Constantinou is an education editor for Scholastic News. She previously taught middle school English Language Arts in Marlboro, New Jersey. 

    Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential leaders of the civil rights movement. Teaching about his leadership and legacy can help students understand how current events are influenced by the past and build empathy. Here are five fresh and engaging ways to help you celebrate Dr. King. 

    1. Meet Dr. King’s Granddaughter 

    Scholastic News recently interviewed Dr. King’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King. She spoke about her grandfather’s legacy and how she is keeping his dream alive. The young activist is already following in the footsteps of her famous grandfather. She recently gave a speech at the March for Our Lives in Washington, D.C. Her advice for kids will empower your students. After students read the article, have them analyze and react to quotations from the interview using the “Yolanda’s Words” skills sheet. 

    Grade 3: Interview and Skills Sheet

    Grade 4: Interview and Skills Sheet 

    Grades 5 and 6: Interview and Skills Sheet 

    2. Inspire Students to Plan Service Projects

    Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the only national holiday that is also a national day of service. It’s the perfect opportunity for a project-based learning activity. Start by brainstorming a class list of project ideas. You can then vote on a project to complete as a class, or split students into small groups based on their interests. Use the “A Day to Serve” skills sheet to have students plan their projects. You can also visit www.nationalservice.gov/mlkday for more ideas and resources. Then encourage students to turn words into action!

    Here are some service project ideas to get you started:

    • fund-raisers to support a cause
    • collecting items for people who are homeless or who have been affected by a natural disaster
    • food drives
    • making crafts or cards for hospital patients
    • building something to enhance the community
    • volunteering at an animal shelter

    3. Build Background Knowledge with Videos 

    What made Dr. King such a powerful speaker and memorable leader? Scholastic magazines’ videos chronicle Dr. King’s upbringing, education and philosophy. They show how he became the face of the civil rights movement. They also explain key events in the civil rights movement that are essential to understanding the time period. 

    Use the videos below to teach media-literacy skills and help students engage in critical thinking. Before playing the video, you can give students an active-listening task. For example, you might have students list key dates and important events in Dr. King’s life as they watch. After watching the video once, play it again and pause to discuss key ideas and check for understanding. 

    Grade 3

    Grades 4–6

    Grades 7–8  

    4. Explore Civil Rights Text Sets

    Text sets are collections of articles curated by the editors of Scholastic Classroom Magazines. Many teachers use text sets for independent reading, while others use them for whole-class or small-group instruction. Text sets can help you inspire students to read, gain content knowledge and synthesize information. For elementary students, the Scholastic News Civil Rights Movement text set includes a variety of articles and videos about heroes of the movement, as well as corresponding skills sheets. Here are a few of the skills sheets you’ll find in the text set: 

    • Words to Know: Before reading, have students define and practice using domain-specific vocabulary to discuss and write about the civil rights movement. 

    • Close-Reading Questions: After reading, have students answer text-dependent questions by rereading and citing text evidence. 

    • Write About It!: Explore essential questions and prepare students for standardized tests by guiding them to write an informative paragraph. 

    For secondary students, the Upfront Civil Rights text set includes articles on Dr. King’s early life, his activism, and his legacy. His work continues to inspire the pursuit of racial equality in America. You can find the article “MLK 50 Years Later,” plus videos on the Jim Crow South and on Dr. King’s pivotal role in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

    5. Examine Primary Sources 

    Teaching with primary sources helps students become critical and analytical thinkers. Examining Dr. King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech is a great way to study the power of his words. These Scholastic News skills sheets help students analyze some of the most memorable parts of his speech while guiding them to focus on word choice and oratory techniques such as repetition. 

    Grade 3

    Grade 4

    Grades 5 and 6

    Experience more Scholastic Magazines — subscribe today and save!

    Elena Constantinou is an education editor for Scholastic News. She previously taught middle school English Language Arts in Marlboro, New Jersey. 

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