As a volunteer teacher of infants and toddlers, I often find myself scrambling for lesson plans the morning of my 0-3 year old Family Room class. Especially around the holidays, how do you go about teaching young kids such heavy subjects like why we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day? Well, hang in there because here are five of my favorite ideas.
If your classroom already has puppets and a puppet theater, your work here will be very simple. If not however, make your own MLK Jr. puppet using a paper lunch bag; you could even have all our kids make their own audience paper bag puppets while your MLK Jr. puppet recites the “I Have a Dream” speech. If you’d really like to dive further in, make various puppets representing not only MLK Jr., but various people in his life to tell the story of struggle. You can find a brief, student-made timeline by the students at Pocantico Hills Central School , or a more comprehensive timeline on Fact Monster for older students.
Speaking of timelines, a great way to engage your students more might be for them to actually make a timeline of King’s life. Not only will you be teaching the biography of this historical icon, but a pictorial timeline is a great jumpstart into learning how to create more detailed timelines and agendas in the future. Plus they’re tons of fun and inspire creativity while still teaching kids to color in the lines, so to speak. Using the timelines provided earlier, you can use the template on Teacher Vision to get started or inspired.
Mural of Handprints:
Julia Parzen, a Pre-K teacher in Putnam Valley, NY wrote on the Scholastic Website Teacher’s Section how she used a book by Sheila Hamanaka titled All the Colors of the Earth to talk about different skin colors. She writes, “We then made a mural of handprints in all the colors that skin can come in. The children could choose two different colors to have their hands painted and then add them to the mural.” This is such a great idea because instead of a mural of whatever color in the rainbow, we can teach just how beautiful the color of all the people of the world are.
“I Have a Dream” Writing Prompt:
We all have dreams, and thanks to MLK Jr., there’s no reason we can’t all accomplish whatever dreams are in our hearts. You’re never too young or too old to have dreams for your own future and the future of the world around you. Use this booklet from Teacher Vision to talk about the dreams MLK Jr. had for all of us and give your students a quick go-to guide for their future. You can use the writing prompt bubble at the end of the book, or supplement with this prompt from Activity Village too look past the dream stage and call for action from your students.
In all of the lessons we have learned from MLK Jr., the power of non-violent resistance and protests may be one of the biggest following equality. Use the six fact listed on Care 2 Make a Difference to teach the importance of using our words and other non-violent actions to make change. Then have your students make paper candles (you can have them make their own from construction paper and whatever else you can get your hands on or work a template like this one on About.com). Lead your students with their candles on a silent, peaceful march through your school to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.