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Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Free Resources and Activities!

Celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Free Resources and Activities!

Each year on the third Monday of January, we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the most important figures in the American Civil Rights Movement. For elementary students, it’s important to put into perspective the work of Dr. King and how he was able to bring about positive change in America.

To help your class understand, discuss, and reflect on the many achievements of this American hero, check out this FREE Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Resources Pack from Edmentum. These downloadable resources include critical-thinking questions, lesson plans, fact sheets, activities, and a poster to hang in your classroom, specifically created for both lower and upper elementary students.

Dr. King was an outstanding public speaker, and another great way to learn more about his life and legacy is to revisit some of his many famous quotations. By doing so, we can reflect on not only what meaning they held in the past but also how they remain relevant and impactful today. Share these five notable statements of Dr. King with your students, then complete the activities below as a group to help your class develop a deeper understanding of this important man and the day we reserve to celebrate his life and legacy.

Dr. King quotations:

“If you can't fly, run. If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. But, by all means, keep moving.”

“There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.”

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

“I have decided to stick to love. . . . Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

Reflection activities:

1. Have students complete a written reflection on their favorite quote. Why is it their favorite one, and what does it mean to them? Does the quote inspire them or remind them of something?

2. Using one of the quotes above as inspiration, have students write a short speech about how and why they would like to see their community become a better place and what they can do to help make positive change a reality. (For upper elementary students, have them try to incorporate and attribute the quote into their short speech.)

3. Have your students draw a picture of how they interpret their favorite quote or how they might put the words into action in their everyday lives. When they are finished, break up students into small groups and have them discuss the meaning of their drawings with one another.

4. Have students write a poem about a quote of their choice, then have them break up into small groups and share with each other. Once students have had a chance to discuss their poems as a group, have a class discussion about the similarities and differences they noticed between their poems and how they interpreted the quotes. 

Looking for additional fun facts and video clips to share with your students? The History Channel has a great Martin Luther King, Jr. resource library.

This blog was originally published January 4, 2018, and has been updated.