How We Celebrate Martin Luther King!

I love teaching my students all about Martin Luther King Jr.! We do *lots* of activities on acceptance, tolerance, and respecting each other!


Here are some of the activities we’ll be completing this year: This apple lesson is a GREAT lesson that teaches students that although we may be different on the outside, we all have the same core. For this lesson, try to find three different colored and shaped apples that aren’t perfect looking. Examine each apple with your class (size, color, and weight) and jot down each observation on chart paper. Then, cut open the inside and discover the apples are all the same on the inside.

image This is another simple activity that has a lasting impact. Have students trace their feet onto construction paper/cardstock and cut. On each foot, have them write how they can help change the world. Then, create a “Pathway to Change” in the hallway leading up to your classroom door by taping down the feet. You can laminate the feet to make them more durable (and for parents to put in their child’s memory box at home). Super cute and meaningful! They will love seeing their feet in the hallway. I plan on talking to the other teachers at my school to see if they’d be interested in creating one BIG pathway. How cool would that be?


In addition to doing those activities, we’ll also be reading all about Martin with this book I made! I made two versions of this book. One version is for the teacher (for a read aloud) and then I also made a simpler version for the student (a mini-book). The one you see below is the teacher version!


Here are a few pages from the student mini- book. It walks students through each part of MLK’s life and highlights important events that took place. Students can color the pages, if they wish!

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I also provided made a short article, which highlights parts of his life. This would be a great article to display on the document camera or to have students read with a buddy. I LOVE the real pictures!


Here’s a close-up of the article:


After learning all about MLK, we’ll think about what it would be like if we met him. Students will write what they would ask him, tell him, thank him for, and show him.


We’ll also use some other organizers to help us write about his life! I made different options so that you can differentiate for the kiddos in your class!         image image

To help us get a better grasp on that time period, we’ll use these timeline cards I made with real photographs of his life.


We’ll also do a little Then and Now activity (using real photographs) where we’ll look closely at how much has changed since MLK was alive! This is MY FAVE activity, for sure.

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This is a follow-up activity to complete after discussing and sorting the “Then and Now” photos as a whole group. Students have look closely at the “Then” photograph and then write or draw how things are now.


After learning all about his life, it’ll be time to write a biography about him. First, we’ll use a simple organizer to help get our thoughts down and then we’ll dive into writing. I’m excited to do this with my kiddos because it’ll be their

first real “book report.”


Here’s a sample page from the biography book!


We’ll finish off our celebration of his life by completing this sweet “I Dream…” craft.  We’ll use the organizer below to write down many different dreams and then we’ll choose one (or ALL!) to write in our thinking bubble.

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Here are a few other activities we’ll be completing after reading other books about his life. One of my favorite MLK books is “Martin’s Big Words.” After reading and discussing the book, we will complete the activity below where students receive a “big word” and have to draw the word and write it in a sentence.


We’ll sort short sentences and determine if the act was a peaceful one or not.


And, finally, we’ll determine if the sentence is true or false based on what we’ve learned all about him. image

To help keep you (and me) organized, I also provided you with a Teacher To Do page in this packet. I created this for my Holidays Around the World packet and LOVED how it kept me so organized. Many of you messaged me saying it helped you too! I provide you with a list of things you’ll need to prep for the unit, activities to do (including the ones mentioned above), web resource s(links to GREAT clips all about MLK), and links to AWESOME books about his



Spread the word

Leave a Comment

{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Leanna January 6, 2014, 12:49 am

    I love this idea! What an awesome thematic unit 🙂 If it was a 4th grade standard, then I would've definitely wanted to try something like this with them. We start testing at the end of the month though 🙁 Love your ideas, Lyndsey!


  • Jennifer January 6, 2014, 12:53 am

    This is SO CUTE!! I love it!!

    The First Grade Dream

  • Emily January 6, 2014, 1:54 am

    This packet looks AWESOME! Your stuff always incorporates so many different aspects of curriculum, easy to use AND adorable to boot! I'll definitely be snagging this for MLK Jr. Day!! :o)

  • Traci - Dragonflies in First January 6, 2014, 1:58 am

    This is the best MLK pack I've seen. 🙂

  • Sydney C January 6, 2014, 2:05 am

    I do a very similar apple activity for MLK with my students! Bought all my apples today.
    Lessons Learned

  • Mrs. Thompson January 6, 2014, 3:38 am

    Adding this to my cart right now! Thanks for the sale! 🙂

    Mrs. Thompson
    Adventures in Teaching (A First Grade Blog)
    My TpT Store

  • Kristen Smith January 6, 2014, 3:54 am

    LYNDSEY!! I LOVE THIS!!!! I want to be in your classroom! 🙂 FABULOUS job!!!

    A Day in First Grade

  • Sylvia Parker January 6, 2014, 5:05 am

    This looks wonderful! I love the timeline. I like to have my students watch My Friend Martin. It is a powerful DVD with many opportunities for us to stop and talk about why acceptance and diversity is so important.

  • Sylvia Parker January 6, 2014, 5:05 am

    This looks wonderful! I love the timeline. I like to have my students watch My Friend Martin. It is a powerful DVD with many opportunities for us to stop and talk about why acceptance and diversity is so important.

  • Jennifer White January 7, 2014, 5:10 pm

    LOVE this!
    First Grade Blue Skies

  • Alison P. January 7, 2014, 6:43 pm

    This looks amazing!!! I can't believe how much information is in there. I only have a little guy right now but I will be teaching preschool next year so some of these might be helpful 🙂

  • A Rocky Top Teacher January 8, 2014, 9:38 pm

    Wow, wow, wow! This packet looks fabulous!

    A Rocky Top Teacher

  • Jeannie Partin January 9, 2014, 3:12 am

    love the apple lesson 🙂
    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  • Jodi January 18, 2014, 2:43 pm

    This is seriously the best unit ever!!!!!!!
    Fun In First

  • Lisa August 23, 2016, 8:58 pm

    Well done unit! You have interesting activities and a variety of things for students.