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Martin Luther King Day Lesson Ideas

Martin Luther King day is a United States federal holiday celebrated on the third Monday on January, close to the time of his birthday on January 15th. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was a clergyman and a leader in the civil rights movement. Lessons related to Martin Luther King for younger children and children with disabilities may include lessons on history, vocabulary concepts (equity, rights, freedom, discrimination, etc.), and social skills (getting along, friendship, kindness, etc.)

The Gradual Release Model teaches with an "I do", we do", and then "you do" approach. The "I do" approach is often presented in full group lessons with the teacher modeling. Here are some resources to teach about Martin Luther King beginning in a full group lesson:

 

FULL GROUP
  1. KWL: Teachers may begin with a KWL approach to find out what the children know about Martin Luther King. KWL begins with a chart  divided in to three setions labeled as followed: KNOW (What do we already know about...), WANT TO KNOW (What do we want to know), and LEARNED (What did we learn about...). Make a list in the first two sections on the chart, know and want to know. When the unit is finished, write in what the students learned about the topic.
  2. Book: My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by Christine King Farris.
  3. YouTube Videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6Au81aHuSg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Kd07Tyxcc0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smEqnnklfYs
  4. Discussion: Have class discussions about what the students learned in the book and/or videos about Martin Luther King Jr. Focus on the objective you are trying teach. For example, you may focus on his "I have a dream" speech in his dream to change our country. I would guide the discussion to focus on how we can make this world a better place: being a good friend, recycle, planting, helping in the community, etc.  What could be your dream?
 
SMALL GROUP / GUIDED LEARNING
  1. Turn and Talk: Use the Turn and Talk approach to have students share with a peer their ideas concerning the class discussion.
  2. Writing Sheet: Have the students write or draw about their ideas to make a difference in our country. Here is a free sample writing sheet.
  3. Read the Book: The Color of Us by Karen Katz . Then have the students mix different shades of brown, tan, and pink paints to make vaious skin colors. Paint their hands to make handprints on a class poster. Include words like "equality", "diversity" and "working together".
  4. Social Story: Write a class social story about kindess, working together, accpeting differences, or friendship.

 

INDEPENDENT

  1. Make a class Bulletin Board labeled "Acts of Kindness". Try to catch people being kind. When a student witnesses a random act of kindness by a classmate, the teacher or student writes the act on a di-cut handprint. The class tries to have 100 handprints by Valentine's day. (connects unit through to Valentines and ties into 100th day of school- if applicable)
  2. Develop service project related to making a difference: garden, recycling project, class mural, etc. For younger children, pair with an older child / reading buddy to plan an act of kindess or service project.
  3. Have students keep a personal writing journal or notebook about ways to be a good friend.