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Martin Luther King Day activities

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Here’s a roundup of 40 great ideas for Martin Luther King Day kids’ activities.


Martin Luther King Day activities

Martin Luther King Day provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on the best in all of us.

Not just with activities that help us reflect on the bravery it takes to overcome injustice but through a day of actual volunteering.

So much has changed since King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial.

And as the years pass it becomes harder for new generations to understand what life was like before Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement.

So it is even more important to use Martin Luther King day to encourage children to be active historians.

First, perhaps, by letting them listen to original audio of MLK’s speeches or watch footage however grainy and distorted.

And secondly, to actually go out and research the ordinary memories of life before the civil rights movement and of the momentous changes Martin Luther King helped to bring about from the generations who do remember.

I have collected here a whole list of different activities that hopefully explore all these different aspects of  Martin Luther King Day.

Take a look at the list and get inspired for ways in which you and your family can celebrate the life of this great man. 

Martin Luther King Day ideas for kids activities

  1. Volunteer for the day as a family or class or with friends and pledge to volunteer throughout the year
  2. Listen to excerpts of Martin Luther King speeches
  3. Talk about how MLK uses imagery in his speeches
  4. Write “I Have a Dream” or “We Shall Overcome” speeches
  5. Watch footage of the March on Washington
  6. Organise a sponsored walk or “march” and make speeches outdoors at the end
  7. Create MLK patchwork – decorate paper squares around themes of peace, love, freedom, equality with side holes that are then connected up with ribbon or string
  8. Make chains of paper dolls to symbolise people living in peace
  9. Talk about times when we have to be brave, what it feels like to be brave and what we can do to help ourselves be brave
  10. Create personal I have a dream posters
  11. Make murals of different coloured hand prints
  12. Read about Martin Luther King’s life – popular biographies for kids include Who Was Martin Luther King?Martin’s Big WordsI Have a Dream
  13. Create timeline of Martin Luther King’s life
  14. Interview older members of the family or friends about what they remember about life in the 1950s and 1960s and the civil rights movement and record their memories
  15. Write letters to MLK as if alive telling him about the changes that have happened since his death
  16. Read books that celebrate diversity such as All the Colors of the EarthWhoever You AreWe’re Different We’re the Same
  17. Create peace doves from multi-coloured finger prints
  18. Collect old photos from the 1950s and 1960s and make a collage with pictures of MLK
  19. Make posters about how life has changed since the 1950s and 1960s
  20. Read newspaper cuttings from 1963 covering MLK’s I Have a Dream speech
  21. Talk about whether things are just or unjust
  22. “We’re all the same on the inside” brown & white egg experiment
  23. Create multi-cultural stick puppets
  24. Read about life before the civil rights movement in books such as Hear My Cry
  25. Make peace themed lunch boxes
  26. Talk about non violence and other leaders who have achieved great change without violence
  27. MLK word search
  28. Write acrostic poems around words such as peace, bravery, dream, overcome
  29. Learn and sing We Shall Overcome
  30. Create a peace wall from hand prints
  31. Create a kindness jar
  32. Colouring a rainbow with MLK image and quotation
  33. Create MLK inspired peacemaker badges
  34. Create a flap book about being a peacemaker
  35. Create a Martin Luther King quiz
  36. Make a freedom bell
  37. Create a map of key events in MLK’s life and the civil rights movement
  38. Make the world’s a rainbow post card
  39. Watch films of MLK’s life and work such as the original documentary From Montgomery to Memphis or the History Channel’s King
  40. Research and write about other members of the civil right’s movement whose personal bravery and service made a difference

I hope you’ve found at least one activity in this list that will work for you and your kids. 

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Martin Luther King Day Activities ... all sorts of activities for children to explore the meaning of MLK day

Kathleen Scott

Wednesday 8th of January 2014

This is a fantastic resource! Pinned it!


Wednesday 8th of January 2014

Wonderful list of activity ideas! Featured it on iGameMom "Free Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Resources for Kids". Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library.

Diane Henderson

Tuesday 7th of January 2014

Thanks for the awesome list! What wonderful ideas. I have free resources for MLK day ( as well as 1,000's of other FREE activities on my site: Hope you can stop by. :-)

~The Bargain Babe from *Zucchini Summer Blog*

Tuesday 7th of January 2014

Wow, 40 ideas! Thanks for sharing those, we will have to do some. I think my oldest son had Martin's Big Words but it has been many years. Hopefully my younger son will get a Scholastic order form and I can buy it again. :)

Laila @OnlyLaila

Saturday 4th of January 2014

What a great list! Thanks so much for creating it.