Teaching about Martin Luther King Jr. to kinder, first, and second graders

It is no secret that Martin Luther King Jr is important to me. I have blogged about him several times because he is important to all of us. I teach at a very diverse school. VERY. My husband compliments my class every year when he says “Your class is like those gorgeous United Colors of Benetton ads” Make no mistake this is a compliment. My students are so pretty. Their parents hail from across the globe and they are stunning to look at and it a joy to listen to Nigerian, Indian, and every other accent too. Another thing that is stunning is the fact that without the sacrifice of Dr. King and other in the civil rights movement, my diverse students would not be allowed to be together.  My school of 33 languages, native homelands, and faces of every color that shine like the sun,  would not be possible without Dr. King. Gosh I love him and this is how I teach my students about this great man.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration
I love starting any unit with a book, and in this case I let LaVar Burton kick off our MLK study with his reading of A Picture Book of Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 3
It’s just the color of my skin, not who I am:
I feel like the kids I teach are tender-hearted and have not become jaded by bad experiences yet. They have been sheltered and are part of a happily diverse population. They are a bit shocked to learn that long ago the color of your skin decided your value and who you could become. In some cases, no matter how hard you worked or how good you were, you could not do certain things because of your skin color. We show how silly that is with an egg object lesson.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 4
We get cracking with some eggs all smiling and colorful. We crack one of each color and we talk about what we see.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 6
I will tell you that I allowed every child to crack open a REAL egg. It was a wonderful experience. The families were asked to send in an egg for their child. As a result the parents very already invested and curious as to what we were doing in class. It was an exciting week!!!! PS. eggs were sent in Ziploc bags and I sat in the office collecting them so they did not break.

It is very important that as you teach about the "white" and "brown" eggs that you are careful with your wording.  Do not in anyway indicate that one is better than the other or say "see the brown egg is just as good." In saying that you might be accidentally indicating that they were unequal before. Just a word of caution. 

I put many white and brown eggs together and I address the eggs as a group. I say things like the following:

  •  They look mostly the same.
  • They feel mostly the same.
  • I notice that some differ in size.
  • I cracked them all open (at least 5) and I "notice" that inside they were more similar than even the outside.   

My character is what matters most
It really does matter what’s inside, and we are not all the same. We are uniquely gifted, have different degrees of good and “not so good” character inside us.  So, how do we know if someone is filled with good or bad character? Can we look at their outside? Can we decide by their skin color, their clothes, their smile? No you have to get to know the person.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 5
I have them sort out all the possible character traits.
I put 3-5 slips of paper in each egg and the table group will judge the egg. I usually put at least 1 negative trait in each egg.
It’s important for kids to know that all of us are a mix of good and bad. We have to work hard to show our good character traits and control our negative ones.
Kids are so tender, so you really have to drive this point home! Everyone has a bit of bad inside wanting to take over. Self control and good choices are ways we can show and grow our good character!
This is such an important lesson that I end it with a very concrete way to be a friend and show good character.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 10
I love to read several books to the kids including my favorite Martin’s Big Words.
Then, I like them to do some reading on their own.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 11
We also read about Martin in our fluency passage for the week followed by a quiz. I need those informational reading grades in my grade book. How about you?
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 12
 Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 13
OK,  now do you know Kid President? Of course you do because you are amazing. If you are just meeting him today from this post, then I have done my good deed for the day!!!! I love him. He does such a good job making MLK so accessible!
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration2
Speaking of love, how about a little MLK Rap and putting on your dancing shoes!
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 7
But here is the best part!!! The craft. Oh how I love this easy & sweet craft!
 Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 14
We head back to You Tube to wrap up our week of MLK and watch the very beginning and very end of his speech. I think it’s important for kids to see the march. The peaceful singing, walking, and talking.  I think this helps them understand that MLK really meant “peace”. There was no yelling, throwing of bottles, or hitting. They walked and sang and changed history.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 8
On Friday, after we have learned everything we can learn, and our brains are tired and we so proud to be together as friends at the table of brotherhood, we sit down and watch this nice long movie. If you want to watch the movie I strongly encourage you to preview it. There are video clips of real events and it is hard to see some of the clips.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration 9
I  hope that this post has brought some new material to your classroom. It’s always nice to teach with something new. It’s like a new shirt or dress… it’s just fun, fresh, and exciting! All my best to you.
Martin Luther King Jr Freebies-vidoes-and-inspiration


  1. This is an amazing assortment of resources Katie. I think it is really important to take the opportunity to teach these concepts to our children. Your close read for MLK is just right for a young child. I am in love with the craft! Thanks for sharing these ideas. My Friday will be full of MLK information and fun.

  2. Wow! What a GREAT post! Thank you for sharing this. This really helped me to organize my lessons on MLK.

    1. I am so glad that you liked this post. I am glad it helped.

  3. This is one of the best MLK posts I have seen! I saved all of the videos and downloaded your egg freebie! Thank you for putting all this together!

  4. These are great activities and lessons for MLK! You are such a wonderful teacher Katie and your love and light just radiate through you!:)

    1. You kind words touched my heart. Thank you.

  5. Thank you for this wonderful post! I had discovered a few of these resources but I LOVE how your ideas deepen the learning for our littlest ones. Excited to extend our focus on MLK!!

  6. So happy to have found your blog. Would like to share the resources I collected in my many years of teaching before retirement.

    1. I should explain that I plan to add your site to the list of resources that I have compiled. We have some resources in common. Of course you blog is so much more polished and plain adorable. Keep up the good work.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. I just downloaded the booklet. Great resource, now I have a full week of activities to celebrate MLK. I just have to translate them to Spanish. Thanks for the great work and for sharing.

  9. I just downloaded the booklet. Great resource, now I have a full week of activities to celebrate MLK. I just have to translate them to Spanish. Thanks for the great work and for sharing.

  10. There are the better concerning elements explained, so there is even a better prospects to remember with some effective details. pediatric residency personal statement

  11. Wow! Thank you so much for sharing! This great material. I look forward to sharing with my students!

  12. I absolutely loved this post! I did some of the things you shared and my students loved it! THANKS AGAIN!!



Comments Welcome! Due to spam comments, I must approve your comment before it will appear.