Tips on Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Every January, the third Monday brings us the opportunity to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King’s life and legacy. While many of his ideals and values shaped the Civil Rights movement and are still with us today, how do you teach students about the importance of celebrating his holiday? King made a significant cultural change that impacted history and our current society, and that can be a difficult concept to present to students. You’ll be able to share and help your students understand the significance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr through classroom activity ideas like the ones we have found below, as well as a bonus TCI lesson.

Dreams Progress

In this bonus lesson from TCI, students watch/listen to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and answer questions. In a Social Studies Skill Builder, students are assigned an excerpt from the speech. Pairs work together to find an image to showcase that depicts progress (or lack of) towards that dream. Pairs then travel to see all the excerpts and images created. In a whole-class debrief using a human spectrum, students evaluate the total level of progress. Individually, students then create a photo collage that brings to life one of the excerpts.

Download the Martin Luther King Jr. Day bonus lesson

Create a Daily Classroom Journal

Students can connect with King by understanding their own beliefs, and realizing that they share beliefs with King. Starting a daily classroom journal in January is a great way to get students to understand how this works. Each day, put up a journal topic that demonstrates a belief of King’s in a way that students can relate. For example, you can ask students how they can work out a disagreement with somebody without getting into a fight. Once they are done, you can share King’s methods and ask them how their solutions share the same approaches as King’s.

Keeping Society Peaceful

One of King’s lessons was to use peaceful approaches to implement change. Bring in blank pieces of paper and ask students to create a peace sign on the circle. Then, ask students to think about how they can make the world a more peaceful place and write out their answers. Then, you can discuss with your students what they wrote, and how their peaceful contributions relate to King’s ideals.

Understanding Equality

King emphasized to the world that all people should be treated equally. King experienced discrimination throughout his life because of his skin color. Talk to your students about how, during King’s time, people were treated differently based on the color of their skin and ask questions about how the laws would have affected their lives today. Discuss with students how they should treat other people equally. You can even have students work in groups and come up with steps they can take to make sure they don’t discriminate and make the lesson more interactive.

If you are using the below TCI programs, you can also have your students explore these resources:

  • Social Studies Alive! Me and My World, Lesson 7 – What is in My Neighborhood in the Read & Do section, discover how Martin Luther King Jr. fought to improve communities.
  • Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, Lesson 23 – The Modern United States in Section 6 – The Civil Rights Movement, learn about the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement.
  • History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism, Lesson 29 – Linking Past to Present in Section 1 – Securing Equal Rights and Opportunities, students learn about key events that have moved the United States toward greater equality, including the work of Martin Luther King, Jr. Additionally, in the Explore section, students explore the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement.
  • History Alive! The United States Through Modern Times, Lesson 29 – The Civil Rights Movement throughout this lesson, students examine images depicting key events of the civil rights movement.
  • History Alive! Pursuing American Ideals, Lesson 44 – The Civil Rights Revolution: “Like a Mighty Stream” in this lesson, students analyze images and discuss the impact of key events in the civil rights movement. Additionally, in the Explore section, students explore the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement.

If you are interested in finding more interactive learning methods, then check out TCI’s engaging science and social studies curriculum options. With TCI, you get a bevy of digital resources, multimedia that can be used with students, and customizable lesson plans. Creating interactive lesson plans is easy with TCI, and you’ll love the successful results you’ll witness with their programs.

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