- Learn about the life, dream, and actions of Martin Luther King Jr.
- Make connections between Dr. King's dream/actions and their own dreams/actions
- Grade-appropriate books about Martin Luther King Jr., such as Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King or My Dream of Martin Luther King
- Chart paper and markers
- Copies of a Dream Cloud template, one per student
- Bulletin board or butcher paper for banner
- Glue or tape
- Select a book about Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream to read aloud. See the Martin Luther King Jr. Book List for suggested titles.
- Title a sheet of chart paper "Dr. King's Dream" for the class discussion and dictation.
- Create a Dream Cloud template by drawing a large cloud shape on a sheet of paper. Add writing lines for students' names and their dream for a better world. Leave plenty of space underneath the lines for students to write or illustrate how they will make their dreams come true. Photocopy the template so every student has their own cloud. You will also need one copy for Dr. King's dream.
- Complete a Dream Cloud template for Dr. King. Include a picture if possible.
- Use the bulletin board or butcher paper to prepare the banner. It should be large enough to hold one cut-out Dream Cloud template for each child, plus Dr. King's. Tip: Make the banner long enough to include space between the clouds.
- Place the banner on the floor or a wall so students can hang their clouds when finished. Have glue or tape available.
Step 1: Ask students to tell you what they know about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Step 2: Read the selected book aloud to the class.
Step 3: After reading, ask students what the word "dream" refers to in the story: a dream can be a hope, a wish or a goal you would like to reach.
Step 4: Write definition of "dream" on the chart paper as students retell the definition.
Step 5: Discuss Dr. King's dream from the story. If needed, explain that Dr. King's dream was about making the world a better place in which all kinds of people would live together, peacefully.
Step 6: Discuss the actions Dr. King undertook to work toward making his dream come true. Write responses on the chart paper.
Step 7: Discuss how a person's actions help to make a dream come true. Use student examples of dreams and actions for discussion.
Step 8: Ask children what dreams they have for the world, their neighborhood, school, playground, etc. Write responses on the chart.
Step 9: Ask children what actions they could do to make each of the dreams on the chart come true. Write responses next to the appropriate dream.
Stopping Point, If Needed
Step 10: Show the students the completed Dream Cloud you prepared for Dr. King's dream. Have the class read the Dream Cloud aloud.
Step 11: Hold up a blank Dream Cloud template. Point to each section as you talk.
Step 12: Show them where to write their name.
Step 13: Tell children they are going to write their own dream for a better world on the Dream Cloud template. Note: Younger children will need to dictate.
Step 14: Tell them they will then write or illustrate (depending on level of student) the actions they will do to work toward making their dream come true.
Optional: Take time to model your own Dream Cloud, if necessary.
Step 15: While children are working, place the Dream Cloud for Dr. King in the center of the banner.
Step 16: When students are finished writing and illustrating their Dream Clouds, have them cut out the cloud shape.
Step 17: Show students where they will glue their Dream Clouds on the class banner. Note: Make sure to review each student's Dream Cloud before putting them up on the banner.
- Read What Is Martin Luther King Jr. Day? by Margaret Friskey and Margot Parker.
- Read All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka.
- Listen to Martin Luther King recite his "I Have a Dream" speech.
- Participate in a challenge offered through the Do Something website.
Prepare a Parent Note to tell parents about the lesson, along with questions to ask their child. The note can be taken home as homework. As part of the discussion, have students ask their parents to tell about their dreams for a better world and the actions the parents are doing to work toward their dreams.
- Did children find the book you selected engaging?
- Did it provide clear and sufficient information about Dr. King's life?
- Did students understand the use of the chart to organize their ideas?
- Did students make solid connections between King's dreams and their own dreams for a better community?
- Did students make solid connections between the dream cloud activity and the discussion about Dr. King?
- What other resources could you have used to help children understand the relevance of Dr. King to the idea of making the world a better place?
- Was enough time allotted for reading and discussing King's life before students embarked on the dream cloud activity?
Choose one of the following to assess students' skills and knowledge:
- Have students gather around the finished banner. Ask each student to tell about their dream and one action the student listed or drew.
- Have students tell about one action Dr. King did to work toward making his dream come true.
This lesson was adapted from Hands-On Math Around the Year by Jacqueline Clarke.