My students love learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. and I love teaching all about him. In our classroom, we spend a whole week focusing on his life and all of the things that he did for our country. I use videos, picture books and a project to really make an impact on my students.
Let’s start with a video! The video that I show each year, has animations as well as real images from newspapers and speeches. It does a really great job telling his whole story from where he was born to how he became an advocate for African American rights.
We then watch about half of his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech. It is important for students to hear him actually speaking. As we are learning all about him the rest of the week, they are able to picture him and understand the importance behind his words.
After watching the videos and listening to some of the speech, we read an informational text all about MLK. You can find this text in my MLK pack on TpT here. They learn so much from the videos, the informational text gives us another opportunity to do some close reading. Non-fiction is always tricky for students to read, so every extra chance to practice is a good idea!\
My students then partner up and they fill out a graphic organizer all about MLK. There are four different boxes on the organizer so they describe him, explain what he stood for, explain something he did during his life and also explain his dream. The questions are somewhat open ended so it is fun to talk about their answers when we get finished. All of the partners groups have varying answers and interpretations of the questions.
Want the graphic organizer? It is a freebie for you!! Grab it here.
A unit is never complete without a few picture books! Our favorites for MLK day are:
We then have a discussion about words that would represent Martin Luther King, Jr. My students always come up with some great ideas and we make a large list on the whiteboard. After we create a list that they could reference, it is on to the project. My favorite part.
I saw this idea on Instagram from @mrsille and I knew I had to do it with my class. I just love how they turned out. I found a silhouette of Martin Luther King Jr. on Google and just increased the size when I copied it. My kiddos cut it out and glued it onto the middle of a piece of blue construction paper. Then, using old magazines they hunted for words and phrases that described what type of man MLK was or what he stood for. As you can see, some of my students picked words and just found the individual letters to make the words. Here are some more examples:
Some of my favorite phrases are, “the color skin you have doesn’t matter” “making a difference in the world” “inspired big dreams” and “taking the lead”. My students showed me that they understood what MLK stood for and why he was so influential. These collages make a great hallway display. Each of them also picked one of the words or phrases on their collage and wrote a paragraph in our writing journals about why they chose to put that on their collage.
How do you teach about Martin Luther King Jr.? I would love to find more ideas! Want to save these ideas for later? Pin one of the images below to save and share!