Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. are fondly remembered in American history as an activist, humanitarian, and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, notably for his contribution in advancing civil rights. He is considered as one of the greatest leaders of all time. Influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, Dr King played a very crucial role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience for African-Americans. As a tribute to his great contribution, every year the third Monday of January is celebrated as Martin Luther King’s day. This day is marked as a national holiday and is celebrated near his birthday (15th of January). Schools all over America celebrate Martin Luther King day by arranging activities for students. The day is of great significance and should be utilized to impart the teachings of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. to students. There are a ton of activities that one can organize for students. Here is a detailed list of the 5 simple Martin Luther King Day activities you can do in your classroom.

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  1. Organising Reading Sessions

Martin Luther King’s day is celebrated so as to keep the legacy and ideas of Dr King alive. To achieve this, there is no better way than reading Dr King’s books and books which have been published about Dr King’s life and give a detailed description of his work. These books can be read in group reading sessions followed by a brief discussion. Some of the books which we would like to recommend about Dr Martin Luther King that you can read are:

  • Strength to Love by Martin Luther King
  • To the Mountaintop: Martin Luther King Jr. Sacred Mission to Save America by Stewart Burns
  • Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins
  • The Autobiography of Martin Luther King edited by Claybourne Carson
  1. Creating a Timeline

On Martin Luther King’s day, students can create a variety of creative historical timelines. Dr Martin Luther King had a very eventful life which has been recorded by a lot of history books throughout the year. Teachers can organize a classroom activity where the students can research and create a detailed timeline of all important events that occurred in MLK’s life. Also, students can create timelines of important milestones of Black History over different centuries, key events that occurred in African-American Civil Rights Movement (1954-68), depicting acts such as 1964 Civil Rights Act, 1965 Voting Rights Act, 1968 Fair Housing Acts. For increasing general awareness about relatively current African-American topics students can also come up with creative visualizations of important 21st Century events. History teachers can also construct such timelines and tell students to match the events with their dates to test students’ knowledge of important dates associated with notable events

  1. I Have a Dream Speech

One of the most iconic speeches of all time is undoubtedly the I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King Jr., which he delivered on 28 August 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. The speech has influenced many people since then and thus cannot be overlooked on the Day of Martin Luther King. Classroom reading of Dr King’s speech can be followed by a simple discussion on what, who, when, where and why types of simple discussions with junior students. Teachers can use the speech as a medium to impart Dr King’s teachings. Senior students can be made to read the speech and do more analytical activities such as infer its meaning and Dr King’s speech’s applicability in present day world. A short speech writing activity can also be organized for all grade students, where students are supposed to write their own dreams ideas (for their own future, for their country’s future as well as the future of world as they want it to be) on the lines of Dr King’s I Have a Dream Speech. This is a great way to interact with students and understand their vision and perception of the world.

  1. Lessons about Tolerance

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. advocated the policy of tolerance all his life. He was the ‘messiah’ whose work helped bring civil rights to the African Americans. Thus, the Martin Luther King Day becomes the best occasion to propagate these values and instill them in the younger generations. You can organize activities which help students to understand the virtues of tolerance. Kindergarten students can be made to see pictures of people around the world and notice the differences among them. They should then be taught that these differences don’t matter and that everybody is unique in their own way. Incorporate lessons and stories about stereotyping on the basis of race, color, caste, gender or even income and how to avoid it. Encourage students to share unique stories about customs and traditions of their families, culture, faith or regions. This can make students appreciate cultural, racial and religious differences and respect them. Classroom activities such as role playing, or even sharing negative stereotype experiences of pasts with each other can help develop virtues of tolerance and empathy in students.

  1. Activities like Quizzes, Crosswords, and Parades

One of the most important lessons that anybody can learn from Martin Luther King is the one of equality. He worked tirelessly to achieve his dream of equality and finally propelled America into an age of equality. To continue with this legacy, it is important that we take part in activities which involve people from all walks of life.

Parades are a great example of such activities. Getting involved in Parades is a very good way of feeling this emotion of equality. Parades constitute of people from varied areas of society. When they all come together for a cause, is when true equality is reflected.

Also, group quiz and crossword competitions can be organized which revolve around the various world of Martin Luther King. They will not only help in creating awareness towards various aspects of his life, but feelings of cooperation and a healthy team spirit will also be enhanced by these group activities.

These are just a handful of ways to celebrate Martin Luther King’s day in classrooms with students. Have you planned something special for your school’s MLK day ? Share with us in comments.