In my classroom, I posted pre-make signs (no girls allowed, no boys allowed, no blue eye, no sneakers, etc.) I put pictures on each sign that went with the saying. I explained to the children about Martin Luther King Jr. and his dream for all children to be treated equally. And that long ago they had signs stating “WHITES ONLY”. So when they went into the areas they had to look at the sign and if they had sneakers on they could not go into the area. During group time we discussed how it felt not to be able to go into all the areas.
It helped to get the concept across to them
(This isn’t an original idea – I’ve seen it on a few websites…)
Take one brown egg and one white and hold it up for the children to see. Have the children talk about the similarities and differences between the two.
Break the eggs open into separate bowls and ask the children to talk about the similarities and differences (there won’t be any!) between the two.
I teach four and five year olds. To help them understand what the world was like for MLK, I post signs in the room different days, like no one with blue eyes can play with certain toys, kids with brown hair can’t play with kids with blond hair, etc. I change the signs a couple of times a day, so the kids don’t become too frustrated, and so everyone is treated unfairly for a short period of time. Then we talk about how that made us feel.
I brought 4 eggs to school-different colors or hues.(I even got a green one from a farm friend!) I asked the children which one they thought was the best egg. All said white! So one by one I cracked them open in separate bowls. We looked and smelt each one-determining they were all equal on the insides. That led to the discussion that people also have different colors on the outside but are all similar and equal on the inside. Finally I scrambled the eggs up in a big bowl and we talked about how all the different colored eggs ‘work’ together to make an omelet for example.
I begin by reading an appropriate book, such as “Martin’s Big Words” and then creating a class idea web about Dr. King. I use red and blue marker on the chart paper, explaining that this is to honor Dr. King as a Great American. We then discuss Dr. King’s birthday…if he could come to our classroom, what gifts could we give him? I lead the kids to the idea that he would want us to give him promises that we would act in ways that coincide with his dream…we add ideas to – and get ideas from – the idea web. We then draw pictures depicting our ‘gifts’…I will be strong and proud, I will love others, I will not fight with my fists, I will learn, etc…
As a part of our circle time, I ask only the children who have brown hair to stand up and we dance. You can substitute anything you wish. I make sure we laugh and have a real good time. I say something like “wow I am so happy we are having fun together too bad those other friends aren’t’ having fun.” I then ask all those who are sitting how they feel. We then have a discussion how people feel when they are left out and how MLK wanted everyone to get along etc.
“Walk in His Footsteps” (K-2)
I have a parent helper, preferably a man, trace his foot (with his shoe on) onto dark brown constr. paper. Then, I let the kids trace their own feet (with their shoes off) onto multicultural constr. paper that matches their own skin color. (The kids also trace this skin-colored paper onto white paper for writing.)
I read a book about MLK, Jr., then we discuss how he impacted the lives of many people back then, and still today. The kids then have to think of things they would like to do or say that would change a part of the world today. (i.e., “Smile when you see someone.” “Be kind to others.” “Give lots of hugs.”) Then we glue the white papers onto their “skin-papers,” and then again onto the large, dark brown papers. (This represents MLK, Jr.’s feet.) We post them in a footstep pattern on the bullein board for all to see and admire.
“Walk in His Footsteps and Change the World–MLK. Jr.”
After reading the book Young Martin Luther King and discussing the work he did, we make headbands with paper plate doves. Use small white paper plates. I draw a line to mark half of the plate and then the other half draw another line perpendicular to the first line to divide into two pieces. The small sections are the dove wing and tail. The larger one is the dove’s body. Trace Circles for the head. After the children cut and put the dove together, attach to a light blue headband. I also have olive leaves out of green construction paper to add on the band. I write words on the headband like “Freedom” “Equality” what ever there is room for. After the headbands are complete we have a “Peace March” through the halls of the school. I teach in a Catholic school that has pre-k through 8th grade and about 35% minority students. We make signs to carry also, as Dr. King and his followers did in the 60’s. This has a positive impact on the whole school.
Martin Luther King Day!
An easy and fun activity to promote peace is to cut out a peace dove on white construction paper and let your children collage it with a variety of materials…I did this with my three and a half year olds and they loved it..we followed up by reading a book about MLK.
We made headbands made from construction paper w/ dove cut outs to symbolize peace and talked about Dr. Kings dream of peace between all people.