Martin Luther King, Jr: Activist, humanitarian, and leader in the Civil Rights Movement. Help your students learn about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. in your classroom with thought-provoking resources for PreK all the way through high school.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY Pre-K Theme for a DayKidSparkz says, “With preschool and PreK-age children, any historical concept or figure needs to be presented in a hands-on way, integrated with and relating to the children’s current world of self, family, and neighborhood. The activities in my MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY Pre-K Theme for a Day (grades PreK-K) packet offer a broad view of Dr. King and his ideas, at the level of understanding of a 4- to 6-year old child. The emphasis is on the concepts of kindness and friendship, through the lens of Dr. King’s dream.”

From Linda Post The Teachers Post: “I created a set of differentiated readers about Martin Luther King, Jr. so that a whole class can focus on the same topic but receive a book at the appropriate reading level. There are three reading levels, but each version has the same illustrations. Illustrated vocabulary cards are included for a word wall or pocket chart. Here’s the complete resource: Martin Luther King, Jr. Emergent Readers and Harder-3 Rdg. Levels+ Pocket Vocab (grades PreK-2). There’s a full-color version of each level, as well as a black and white version. There are also versions without illustrations so that students can create their own illustrations to show comprehension.”

“My Martin Luther King Jr. Mini Pack (grades PreK-3) has a few quick printables for kindergarteners that make Martin Luther King, Jr. easy to understand on their level,” explains MrsPayton.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” – MLK, JR.

Remembering Martin“Martin Luther King Day is an important day to honor an amazing man,” says The Tutu Teacher. “I use my resource Remembering Martin (grades PreK-5) to help students understand his importance.”

From Curriculum Castle: “We created a printable poster — Martin Luther King Jr. Poster Activity FREEBIE! (grades K-2) — for students to fill out and decorate after studying about the life and accomplishments of such a great leader in our nation’s history. These posters are displayed in the classroom all January long and are a wonderful way to wrap up any unit about Martin Luther King, Jr.!”

Silly Sam Productions explains, “Our classroom has a progression from day one, leading up to the incredible lessons of Dr. King’s life and legacy. We start with one’s rights and respecting each other in our school and classroom. We learn about culture and traditions and customs when we study Native Americans and then holidays around the world. Then, in January we tell the story of Rosa Parks and Dr. King. We have a ‘group experience’ where we lift our sleeves and put our arms in a circle to see all of our varying skin tones. Then we ask some ‘what if’ questions. We usually have some tears, because thankfully my little firsties cannot imagine or believe the way our world was when Martin was a boy. Here’s a blog post all about it along with my Martin Luther King, Jr. Bulletin Board Craftivity & Writing Common Core Aligned (grades K-3) resource.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Fact Puzzle FREEIn my diverse Special Education classroom,” says Autism Educators, “we strive to learn about different cultures and important figures, using a ‘hands-on’ approach. With my activity, Martin Luther King, Jr. Fact Puzzle FREE (grades K-5), we learn about key events and moments in Dr. King’s life by sequencing a picture puzzle.”

“Now, more than ever, we need children to explore how they can keep Dr. King’s dream alive.” says Carol Martinez. “My Martin Luther King Jr. “I Have a Dream” Art Mobile (grades K-6) helps children think about what they can do in their own young lives to have a positive impact on our world. It makes a sweet, hanging display for all to enjoy as they visit the classroom.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Activities, Craft & Paper Bag Book“I use Dr. King as an example of tolerance, acceptance, and believing in oneself,” explains Bright Concepts 4 Teachers. “I use the activities and crafts in my Martin Luther King Jr. Activities, Craft & Paper Bag Book (grades 1-3) resource to bring that understanding to life for my students.”

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – MLK, JR.

From Fun Times in First: “To help my students understand the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., I wrote a little book where they can read and discover facts about his life. I then provide differentiated resources for them to choose from in order to organize the facts they gathered during their research. Several writing activities are provided as well as a craftivity (a headband). My students have loved the activities in the past and really enjoy ‘researching’ for themselves. You can find the full resource here: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. {Activities and Resources to Support Research} (grades 1-3).”

School Bells N Whistles explains, “As a Special Ed. teacher, I relate my student’s disabilities to being treated differently. We have discussions on how they’ve been treated differently due to using a wheelchair or having another disability. We use MLK / Martin Luther King Jr. Activity Packet for primary grades (grades 1-3) to learn about who Martin Luther King, Jr. was and how he fought for equality. This 35-page packet combines social studies and literacy activities. Writing pages are differentiated for varying abilities.”

Dr. King: Just or Unjust“I love to get passionate conversations going about what is fair,” says Elementary Matters. “When I talk about how black people and white people couldn’t use the same playground, it always gets a reaction. I always bring out my Dr. King: Just or Unjust (grades 1-5) freebie, which gets some lively conversations going. In addition, I find a video of Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. No matter how many times I hear it, I’m choked up by the end.”

Martin Luther King Jr“Martin Luther King, Jr. is the essence of collaboration. He was peaceful and powerful all at the same time,” explains Art with Jenny K. “My students and I celebrate the legacy of this man each January by working together to create a collaborative group poster of him for our classroom. Everyone in class contributes an essential part and shows what we can do when we all work together! I have two variations of this project to make it appropriate for all the grades I teach:

1. Each student (grade K-6) gets a part of a poster to color with a designated color on the pages. When the pieces are put together, it reveals a multi-colored portrait of Dr. King.
2. For my older students (grades 4-8), I have them draw their piece of the portrait (using coordinate grids), and then they work together to create a large drawing of Dr. King.

If you walked though my school today, you would see some of the collaborative posters I created with my 2nd graders STILL hanging up outside the classroom doors. The teachers have not taken them down almost a year later because they serve as such a strong reminder as to what we can create if we work with — instead of against — each other! Here’s the complete resource: Martin Luther King Day (grades 1-8).”

From Primary Ideas: “I read aloud the story Martin’s Big Words by Doreen RappaportI’m a reading intervention teacher, so we use the close reading activity Martin Luther King Jr. Close Reading and Comprehension Activities (grades 2-4). Afterwards, students discuss problems they see within our school and community, and they write about their own dreams.”

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” – MLK, JR.

Martin Luther King Jr.Emily Gibbons says, “I like to have my students research Dr. King’s life in order to follow his achievements and obstacles. We then create our own ‘I Have A Dream’ speech by writing down our dreams for the world. My Martin Luther King Jr. (grades 2-5) resource has an interactive QR code webquest to use with mobile tablets, and includes a writing project as well!”

“I always like to tie kindness and anti-bullying into my Martin Luther King, Jr. units,” explains Create-Abilities. “My Martin Luther King Jr. resource (grades 2-6) includes reading, writing, and math activities that touch on these themes and more. It’s important to see Dr. King’s legacy and what it means for us today.”

From Tessa Maguire: “I also read aloud the story Martin’s Big Words. I choose a method for having some students sit near me while others sit in the back of the room, behind something, where they won’t see as well. The ‘method’ might be the color of their shirt, the color of their pants, if they’re wearing glasses, etc. The students in the back get quite agitated when they can’t see and after a few pages, I stop and ask them to explain how they’re feeling. This opens up a great conversation around fairness and equality. I then start the book over and reread it so everyone can see and hear clearly. Afterwards, we talk about kindness and generate ideas for ways they can bring peace to our world. We then look into the life of Dr. King with a bit more depth as we begin to study heroes for Black History Month. We use African-American Heroes: Answering Text-Based Inferential Questions (grades 3-5) to interact with informational text, write thoughtful text-based responses to literature, and learn more about people who helped change America for the better.”

“Dr. King and his words become part of our classroom culture,” says Ann Fausnight. “We read several different books on prejudice and inequality including Now Let Me Fly, Ruby Bridges, I Am Rosa Parks, Cheyenne Again, and Martin’s Big Words. This unit always has a wonderful effect on the students’ outlooks; it also helps them grasp the idea of theme. We discuss and illustrate the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and also have a Martin Luther King Scavenger Hunt (grades 3-5) that allows the students to learn even more about Dr. King.”

Poetry Possibilities -- Martin Luther King, Jr. DayBarbara Evans says, “Poetry Possibilities — Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (grades 3-6, free) provides three poems about Dr. King, his life, his legacy, and his goals. As an enrichment teacher, I work with grades 2-5, so the poems and the skills (along with the activity possibilities that accompany them) span the interests and abilities of those grade levels. My goal is to immerse my students in this study. The activity that seems to have the most impact, year after year, is an extension to our discussion of the dove as a symbol of both peace and hope. As such, it is a great symbol to honor Dr. King. My students create flying doves from construction paper. We hang them from the ceiling, creating a spectacular ‘peace rally.'”

“I use a simile activity because Martin Luther King Day coincides with my poetry unit,” explains TheRoomMom. “Students sort and rank given words related to Dr. King, choose the three words they think are most important in the group, and create a simile for each word. The three similes connect to create a poem. The freebie contains words lists to use for several other winter holidays and observances as well. Here’s the complete resource: Winter Simile Poems (freebie) (grades 4-7).”

Martin Luther King, Jr. Group Research ProjectThe Daring English Teacher says, “To make Martin Luther King, Jr. Day meaningful in my secondary English classroom, I have my students work on a group research project. The research project is aligned to the Common Core Standards and covers a broad range of topics. At the end of the project, the student groups present their PowerPoint presentations to the class. This way, all of the students in my class get to know about many different aspects of Dr. King’s life. Here’s the complete resource: Martin Luther King, Jr. Group Research Project (grades 7-12). I then like to wrap everything together and have my students individually write an informational essay about him: Martin Luther King, Jr. Informational Essay – Grades 6-10 – CCSS Aligned.

“We use my Civil Rights Task Cards (grades 7-12) to study the Jim Crow era through the assassination of Dr. King,” says Leah Cleary. It means so much for students to understand how far we’ve come as a nation, and to consider how far we still have to go.”

Martin Luther King, Jr., I've Been to the Mountaintop- Inspired Writing

OCBeachTeacher says, “My students read the speech, ‘I’ve Been to the Mountain Top’ and use their reading as inspiration for their own writing. Since the speech uses numerous allusions, they complete an activity to understand allusions. They then analyze the speech’s structure using a graphic organizer. Finally, they refer to their pre-writing to create their speeches and take them through the writing process using 6 + 1 traits. Take a look: Martin Luther King, Jr., I’ve Been to the Mountaintop- Inspired Writing (grades 8-11).”


“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” – MLK, JR.

(Thanks to AllClipART for the feature image.)