Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man. A man who decided to help lead a nation into change. Here are ideas for sharing about his legacy with our students.
A year ago a participated in a blog about teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr to early learners. (Click here for my original blog post about Dr. Martin Luther King.) A delicate balance between celebrating Dr. King’s legacy and teaching early learners about “color barriers” remain.
Cupcakes and Fairness
We want our children and students to know a world where everyone is treated equally. To show the ridiculousness of excluding people based on appearance or background, I involve my students in an exclusion activity. I tell the students a friend of the class sent in cupcakes for students in this class. Just when everyone is excited, I tell them there is a note with the cupcakes…”Please share these cupcakes with students who have on blue pants ONLY. I ask the students to look at their friends and help me figure out who has on blue pants. Those students are asked to come to my table for a cupcake. When the students start to complain, I agree it isn’t fair and send the children with blue pants back to the carpet. I throw that note away and “discover” a second note, “Please share these cupcakes with students who have on a red shirt.” Once again, I ask the students to help me discover the students who get cupcakes. Inevitably, the students will complain again, I’ll agree, throw THAT note away, and discover a third note. “Please share these cupcakes with all the students in your class.”
Martin Luther King
Before passing out cupcakes, we read our first story about Martin Luther King. We link their feelings over the treat with the feelings Martin felt growing up in a segregated America. I know using cupcakes to make the connection for segregation is at it’s simplest level, but it is just a beginning point for our lessons. Students will learn about Martin’s life, struggles, successes, and legacy as our unit progresses. Reading Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King, is also a great introduction to his life. They will learn about events and symbols along the way. We will read about it…write about it…make it.
How Will I Know?
When I am planning to teach about Martin Luther King, I often wonder how I will know if they have learned the lessons I want them to learn? Sometimes you know when you listen to their conversations. Sometimes you know when they are involved in conversations on the carpet. Sometimes you know when a parent mentions conversations from home. But sometimes, you know when the lessons are over and they include that knowledge in a way you never expected. That is the case with Jordan’s squiggle from February 8.
(If you don’t know about Squiggles, you are missing out…CLICK HERE…to read all about this great writing activity.)
During our literacy centers, squiggles in an independent drawing and writing centers.
Students are given a “squiggle” or a “scribble” on a paper and they need to make something and write about it.
Jordan was given the dark lined figure in the middle of the page. Do you think she understood Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, facing the Washington Monument and gave an important speech to people of all colors. I think she did.
Making an Impact
I love it when students are appalled by the thought of segregation. We need to make sure Dr. King’s legacy for all people is a legacy of Love, Peace, and Fairness.
Click here for a sample set of activities for Martin Luther King, Jr.
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