MLK Day Activities for Kids

mlkdayJanuary 20, 2014 will mark the 20th Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service. In observance of this special day, we at LSS Mentoring Services have put together activity ideas as an option for mentors to do with students. Even if you are not a mentor, please take time to reflect on Dr. King’s message this month and share its meaning with others — especially kids. 

Student Art Contest

  •  Aid your mentee in entering a national art contest being held this year in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington.
  • Click here for more information. All entries must be postmarked by February 28, 2014.

Activities for younger children (K-3rd Grade)

Joining Hands for Freedom

  1. Help your mentee cut out white paper into long rectangles to make paper chains out of. Cut out at least five pieces of paper but feel free to make more if you would like.
  2. Color each separate piece of paper a different color. Use the colors: black, white, red, yellow and brown.
  3. Use glue or tape to link together these different colored pieces of paper.
  4. Explain the symbolism to your mentee, “Each link represents a hand, and our chain reminds us that Dr. King joined hands with people of all colors when he marched for freedom.

“Walk the Walk: “My feets is tired but my soul is rested.”

  1. Walk around the school with your mentee, signifying marches from the Civil Rights Movement.
  2. Share with your mentee Dr. King’s mission to engage in peaceful protests like sit-ins, marches, and freedom rides.

 *For more information on the Civil Rights Movement, click here.

Picture Book

  1. Read a picture book to your mentee and discuss it with them afterwards.  An option is to check one out at the library.

Write a letter to Dr. King

  1. Help your mentee write a hypothetical letter to Dr. King as if you were reporting back to him on how our country has changed since he was alive.
  2. In this letter, share ways our country has found equality and ways in which things are still not equal.

These activity ideas were found at: www.familyeducation.com and www.scholastic.com

Activities for Older Children (5th-8th grade)
Click on the underlined words to be brought to the website that may be needed for the activity.

  1. Animated Speech– Watch this amazing 17-minute animated speech! It provides multimedia images and text from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech along with his spoken words.
  2. Literary Lesson– Read Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech, have your mentee pick out key phrases he or she likes and make a poem out of them. Then read the lyrics to the songs “My Country Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful.” Discuss how Dr. King used words from the songs much like your mentee did, making a poem out of words from his speech.
  3. GeographyRead the “I Have a Dream” speech, have your mentee list all geographical locations mentioned by Dr. King and then find them on a map.
  4. Equality DiscussionRead or watch Dr. King’s “I have a Dream” speech and talk about ways equality has been reached in the United States, as well as ways in which it has not.
  5. Letters on Nonviolence– Dr. King wrote a great deal on the importance of nonviolent action for change. Read and discuss the following examples with your mentee:

“Nonviolence and Racial Justice,” 1957.
“Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” 1963 (pgs, 2-7)
“Fundamental tenets of Dr. King’s philosophy of nonviolence from his book, Stride Toward Freedom”

     6.  Photographs on Nonviolent Protests– There were many nonviolent protests in the Civil Rights Movement. Look at these photographs and discuss.

March on Washington, 1963Courage at the lunch counter from the SmithsonianTimeline of the sit-ins by NPR

     7.  Dr. King and Gandhi– As can be found in Dr. King’s letter, Nonviolence and Racial Justice, Dr. King followed some of the philosophies taught by Mohandas K. Gandhi. How did Dr. King and Gandhi differ in their views of nonviolence? Review the section of the letter entitled “Alternative to Violence,” then compare this to quotes about nonviolent resistance from Gandhi. Click here for one of the many websites on Gandhi’s teachings.

These activity ideas were found at:  www.edsitement.neh.gov

Helpful Resources: Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute and www.mlkday.gov

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