Classroom Activities to Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King MemorialLooking for some activities to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day this month? You’ll find everything you need here. This post includes materials on the ReadWriteThink site that fit three categories:

  • Resources specifically focused on Dr. King and texts he wrote.
  • Biographical activities you can use to explore Dr. King’s life and writing.
  • Family activities that relate to Dr. King.

The materials range from mini-lessons to complete units and cross the grade levels. So read on, and celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work.

Focused on Martin Luther King, Jr.

Biographical Lesson Plans

  • Guided Comprehension in Action: Teaching Summarizing With the Bio-Cube (Grades 6–8)
    Middle-level students learn the ins and outs of writing biographies by researching a contemporary or historical figure and writing a summary.

  • A Biography Study: Using Role-Play to Explore Authors’ Lives (Grades 9–12)
    Secondary students read biographies and explore websites of selected American authors and then role-play as the authors. Adapt this lesson to ask students to consider Dr. King, as the author of the “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” “I Have a Dream” speech, and other texts.

  • Biographies: Creating Timelines of a Life (Grades 3–5)
    Elementary students explore a number of sources to create a biographical timeline about a selected person. Students collaboratively research and resolve conflicting information they find during their investigation.

  • Acrostic Poems (Grades K–12)
    Have students write acrostic poems about Dr. King or events from his life with the Acrostic Poem tool.

  • Writers’ Workshop: The Biographical Sketch (Grades 3–5)
    Students use the faces and places they learn about in their research to write a biography about a contemporary or historical figure.

Family Activities

  • Amazing Biographies: Writing About People Who Change the World (Grades 3–8)
    After reading about historical figures and other important people that have changed the world, children choose someone that they consider to be “amazing”—either someone they’ve heard about or someone they know—and create a book page that highlights this person.

  • Think Peace (Grades K–5)
    Podcaster Emily Manning shares books that serve as a springboard to discuss how children and adults alike can use peaceful, nonviolent methods to affect change in society. This is episode 21 of Chatting About Books: Recommendations for Young Readers, a Podcast for Grades K–5.

  • Celebrate Heroes (Grades 6–8)
    Encourage children to spend a little time thinking and writing about just what makes a hero and who their personal heroes might be.

  • Dr. King Bio Cubes (Grades 3–12)
    Families and children can gather or summarize information about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with the Bio Cube interactive.

  • Create Poetry with the Word Mover App (Grades 3–12)
    Use the word bank from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and create found poetry.

If you want even more resources, check out the Martin Luther King, Jr. collection from Thinkfinity.

—Traci Gardner


[Photo: Martin Luther King Memorial by alvesfamily, on Flickr]


This post is the introduction from “July 11 to 16 on ReadWriteThink.” Read the rest of the post on Facebook.