“I have a dream” — 5 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy

Let’s face it, there’s a lot of negativity dragging us down right now. As an educator you have a tough job, and your students are looking to you for guidance. Sometimes, when all else fails, it’s your responsibility to help teach them favorable ways to accomplish difficult challenges and goals. But this is no small feat when positive role models and lessons aren’t always easy to find. That’s why, this year, finding ways to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and commemorate the MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 18, is more important than ever. And, to help get your creative juices flowing, we’ve pulled together a quick list of ways you can recognize this important holiday with your students.

1) Share MLK words of wisdom

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has provided us with countless inspiring quotes from his many uplifting speeches . A good way to help students understand King’s important work is by showing students videos of his speeches, or simply sharing some of his amazing words. You could even ask students to select a favorite Dr. King quote and have them write a few paragraphs on what those words mean to them.

2) Engage in lessons that promote kindness, equality and inclusion

Equality for all individuals is one of Dr. King’s most important teachings. One way to promote understanding of this message is by engaging in lessons like The Community Circle Project. With this project students of any age will learn the significance of a circle as a symbol of unity, connection, inclusiveness and continuity. They’ll then use a circle to create artwork that reminds them of their connection to each other, their communities, and the world around them.

The Community Circle Project - Lesson Plan Volume 124

3) Promote SEL and encourage positive decision making

Kindness is something we can never have enough of, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned in the past year, it’s the importance of social and emotional learning. A simple, fun, and creative way to incorporate SEL into your lesson plan is with the Action and Reaction: Historical Examples of Responsible Decisions SEL Kit. Designed for kids in grades 1-5, the kit introduces students to extraordinary individuals such as Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and more. Students will learn the stories of these once ordinary people who helped change the world, and they’ll engage in activities that explore the importance of positive actions and decision making.  

Action and Reaction: Historical Examples of Responsible Decisions SEL Kit

4) Read or share books about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s journey

Do you engage in regular reading time with your students? Why not share the amazing story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? These fantastic books help students understand Dr. King’s journey, the importance of the Civil Rights Movement, and what it means to be a positive role model.

5) Promote creativity and learning through diversity 

Diversity is at the heart of the matter when it comes to racial understanding and equality. A good way to help students understand these significant differences is through art. To commemorate the MLK Day of Service, download free color pages and other activities and allow students to express themselves through creativity. In addition, Crayola® now offers a full line of Colors of the World Skin Tone Sets that help students feel represented and celebrate their own uniqueness.

Crayola® Colors of the World Skin Tone Crayon Set

We hope these examples give you a head start on ways to celebrate the MLK Day of Service with your students. Maybe they’ll also inspire you to create your own unique projects and ways to promote the importance of Dr. King’s work. If you’d like to share your ideas, or ways you plan to commemorate MLK Day, please feel free to comment below, or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

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