Back to school in January means Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is coming! This is such a hard topic to talk about with Kinders because they are so literal, so here is how we do Martin Luther King Day in our classroom! Since our students are so young they tend to take everything so literally. And so how do we as teachers get the message across without scaring them?
The only true answer to that is the plan out your activities very carefully and to hand select your materials knowing your students. You want to keep everything focused on the good Dr. King did to change the world and speak generally about bad that was going on in the world. For example, we talk a lot about how Martin knew people were being treated unfair and not given the same chances to do things as others. We can give examples of the injustices but we have to chose our words wisely. Our kids are very literal and they have a talent for relating any lesson to a trip to Chuck E. Cheese or sharing personal things about their family members.
We start by talking about the vocabulary surrounding the lesson. The vocabulary is the basis for all of our discussions so it is very important.
We also do this Nonfiction Reader on Martin Luther King which is loaded with facts and developmentally appropriate and tons of real photos.
I also load up on books from the library. They are worth checking to see if you can find! This topic is hard in kindergarten because you don’t want to say too much or too little… but where is that balance. So I often find myself using the books for the pictures and using my own words to soften things or to put in language they will understand.
Excellent easy about the life of MLK that is meant for little readers!
A short story about the life of MLK, 200 words says it all!
This is another great book! It’s about the boy Alex and how he befriends a mule in the neighborhood. He is told how the mule played a crucial role in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. It gives lots of historical perspective and is very age appropriate! It’s a little wordy so it would be better to be broken up into 2 days and after they already have some knowledge of MLK and civil rights! But a great book!
A story about a class who is getting a teacher who is black. It’s a great story of how this teacher touches these kids lives no matter what the color of her skin!
This book has AMAZING pictures. It’s worth finding just to find and see.
Another story about the desegregation process. Favorite part as an adult – the mom sent her kids off to school and called in that day to pray her kids stay safe!
Once have learned a lot through discussions and books, we synthesis it and put it in writing. We use graphic organizers to collect our thoughts and then put it on paper. I love using the Martin Luther King Writing Craft because it gives you the resources to do the above and then gives you a fun craft to glue on for the picture!
And then we have lots of academic activities using the theme of the week. Close reads, letter sorts, and reading CVC words are all a part of the plan for this time of kindergarten!
Looking for some great videos? Click here to see a full listing of kindergarten appropriate videos for Martin Luther King Day.
And now for your free book. It talks about everything in simple and easy too understand ways. This is a great book to read at in class together (they may memorize the words if they can’t read them themselves) and to send home.
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What do you do to teacher Martin Luther King in your classrooms? Please comment below.