January 20th, 2014 is one day when we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in classrooms across America. Take a look at how some of our TpT Teacher-Authors keep the dream and message alive in their classrooms.

A Personal Connection to Dr. King

Martin Has A Dream- A Unit on Martin Luther King, Jr.: MLK Jr.
Martin Has A Dream- A Unit on Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Teaching students about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s struggles is both eye opening and inspiring — some of our Teacher-Authors have an even deeper connection. Susan Morrow says, “I grew up in Montgomery, Alabama during the Civil Rights Era, so this is a very important topic to me. I like to talk about his life growing up and have the students compare MLK’s life to theirs. I am a proponent of using a lot of discussion in literature circles and the majority of the questions I use lend themselves to deeper thinking.” Check out the unit Susan uses with her students here.
  • Miss Martin reflects, “We just finished reading The Watsons go to Birmingham and studying the southern states and my students are fascinated with Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, the Little Rock 9, and others. Coming from a small, rural, Midwestern town, it is really making a big impact on them. We will continue talking about him long past his birthday.”
Martin Luther King Day Mini Unit: MLK Jr.
Martin Luther King Day Mini Unit
  • Stephanie Stewart has something in common with the civil rights leader. She says, “Martin Luther King, Jr. and I share the same birth date, January 15th. So growing up he became my favorite historical figure and I always wanted to learn more about him. Now that I’m a teacher I always do a unit on MLK, Jr. so that my students can learn about equality and leadership in a meaningful way! We usually start the unit on the 15th because of the birthday.”
  • And Tracee Orman says, ” From the very beginning of the school year, MLK, Jr. is present in our discussions on tolerance, racism, civil rights, poverty, etc. It helps that we read “To Kill a Mockingbird” in the fall because so many of Dr. King’s lessons relate directly to the themes of the novel. Throughout the year he appears again in journal prompts, on bell-ringers and exit slips, and on images I have posted in my classroom. His words are so inspiring and truly do speak for all humanity.” Tracee has a great selection of resources to accompany To Kill a Mockingbird.

See Lessons in Action

  • A Year of Many Firsts Lindsey Kuster blogs about using apples as a metaphor. The lesson, “teaches students that although we may be different on the outside, we all have the same core.” She also shares a popular book with her class, Martin’s Big Dream, and has a Martin Luther King, Jr. Activity Packet available in her TpT store.
  • Sally from Elementary Matters shares a post with some great resources including her (free) Just or Unjust statement sorting resource. She says, “Today I can’t watch his speech without tears rushing down my face.”

    Hooray for Dr. King Day: MLK Jr.
    Hooray for Dr. King Day
  • Kindergals’ Kim Adsit blogs about volunteering in her daughter Megan’s kindergarten classroom and teaching the littles about Dr. King while incorporating math and literacy standards. She’s fond of using her Hooray for Martin Luther King (MLK) Day unit.
  • Also, see how Susan Moran Jones – TGIF incorporates “Big Words” and comparisons to Dr. King in her classroom — she writes about it and shares pictures in her blog, TGIF: Thank God it’s First Grade!
The Brown Bag Teacher: MLK Jr.
Words Have Power Book Display: The Brown Bag Teacher
  • The Brown Bag Teacher writes a powerful (pun intended) blog post about the power of words, “This month, we are revisiting the idea that words have power… so powerful that they can change our actions, our thinking, or even our country.” She also demonstrates how to make a great display. Check out her MLK Craftivity Mini-Book.

Additional Martin Luther King Jr Classroom Activities

  • Music! How about teaching Dr. King’s lessons of peace, equality and acceptance through song? I am Bullyproof Music uses an empowerment song and says, “We believe using our voices on MLK Day is the most powerful way to honor this great man and the lesson his life teaches us all; Dare to dream big, join with others, never give up!”

    It's Okay To Be Different: MLK Jr.
    It’s Okay To Be Different – Character Building Activities
  • Kelley Dolling – Teacher Idea Factory uses her It’s Okay To Be Different – Character Building Activities that includes the song and lyrics to “Just One Me” by Ron Brown. Kelly says, “I always take a week around Dr. King’s birthday to not only discuss his amazing vision for our world, but to also chat about differences and acceptance on a personal level.”
  • Another Teacher-Author who advocates the use of song is Caroline from I Speak Your Language. She offers her (free) suggestions for songs to use throughout the year called, Songs My ESL Teacher Taught Me.
  • Speaking of ESL, Everyone deServes to Learn likes to keep diaries. “My Diary of a King will teach about Dr. King’s family, his life, and his accomplishments in a format my students are familiar with and enjoy reading.” You can link to her diary here.

    MLK Flip-Flap Book: MLK Jr.
    Martin Luther King, Jr. Flip Flap Book – An Expository Writing Resource
  • Also try Simply Skilled In Second’s MLK Flip-Flap Book. Students “write about MLK, Jr.’s dream and cut out a silhouette of him, we will create a PEACE accordion fold flip book of his life, and of course, they will complete a MLK, Jr. Flip Flap book in our Work on Writing center that week!” This Teacher-Author says this is her favorite subject to teach.



Dr. King for Middle and High School

MLK Class Building Cards: MLK Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Class Building Cards
  • Carol’s Garden has taught all of the elementary grades through 6th grade and says, “How I teach this unit on Dr. King’s life depends on which grade level I am currently teaching. When I taught upper grades we would watch all of the documentary film with Dr. King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. We watched the documentary over the course of several days, stopping to discuss what it meant to live in a segregated society, and the courage shown by the many protesters. I found that most students felt the power of the speech when they heard it in Dr. King’s own words. The visuals, showing the fire hoses used on protesters, ‘Whites Only’ signs, brutal police and funerals for children bring home to older students the sacrifices made for all of us.” She also offers this resource, Martin Luther King, Jr. Class Building Cards that’s ideal for middle school.
  • Stacey Lloyd says her middle and high school students already know who Martin Luther King, Jr., was so she “focuses on what we can learn from his legacy.” Check out her Learning from Martin Luther King, Jr. resource.
  • OCBeachTeacher uses one of Dr. King’s lesser known speeches I’ve Been to the Mountain Top. She says, “As a high school English teacher, I love having my students read Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speeches! He was such a motivational writer and speaker, and there is much to learn from him.”

Explore the many wonderful and thoughtful resources available on TpT to help teach about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at every grade level and ability.


Graphics for feature image thanks to:

Jenn Alcorn for the Kids Freebie

Learning Yay for the Globe