Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Instructional Objective:

The students will recall 2 facts about Martin Luther King and relate “his dream”.  Students will explain that there is no difference on the inside based on skin color. 90% accuracy is expected for mastery.


Begin the lesson by distributing candy to students that have the same eye color as the teacher.  Say nothing if possible, but if students inquire “Why?” then

 Say:  “Well, only the children with _____eyes get candy.  That is the same color of eyes that I have, so I gave just them candy.”


Begin the lesson by saying: “Today we are going to learn about a famous American who had a dream, 'for all people to be treated the same'.”

I am going to read a story about him and want you to listen so that you can tell me some things about him when I am finished.”  Read one of following books:
A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler (Scholastic);
Martin Luther King Day by Linda Lowery (Scholastic);
Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King by Jean Marzollo (Scholastic); or
Martin Luther King, Jr. by Daina L. Spencer (Derrydale Books)

Listen to Dr. King’s speech by downloading this file from the Internet. Click on the Real Audio icon to begin the download.

Teach the Rap

Guided Practice:

Say:  “Now let’s review some of the things that we heard from the story about Martin Luther King.  What was his dream?  What in the story made MLK sad?  What was thrown into MLK’s window one night?  Did the government change any laws?  What happened to him?”

Higher level thinking:  Ask:  “Why do you think someone killed Dr. King?”  (That person did not want his dream to come true.)

Show children a brown egg and a white egg.  Ask: “What is the color of this egg? What is the color of this egg?   Do you think that the eggs are the same on the inside?”  Give students the opportunity to discuss the question.  Open the eggs and show students that they are the same.

Give each child a piece of black/white paper.  Ask questions:
Show me the most important color on this page.  “Is it the white page, or the black letters?  What do you think?”

Show examples of an all white page, and an all black page.  Have students discuss:  “What happens without the other color?"

Show the chromatic bells.  Listen to the song with only white notes, then with only black notes.  Play the song correctly.  “Which notes were the most important?  Does it make a difference with both black and white notes?”

Independent Practice:

Give each child a picture of Dr. King attached to a Popsicle stick.
Say: “Now, I am going to read a sentence, and I really want you to think about it before you give me an answer.  If you think that the sentence is something that Dr. King would have said in one of his speeches, then show me the picture of Dr. King.  If it is something that he would not have said, then hide the picture of Dr. King.  Do you understand?” Read these statements:


Ask:  “Who got the candy in the beginning of the lesson?  Do you know why I only gave candy to the ______-eyed people?”

Say:  “How did it make those of you with no candy feel.”  Does eye color make a difference?  Does skin color make a difference?  What did we learn from the letters on a page and the piano notes?" Give other children a piece of candy!

"Let’s remember that it takes everyone getting along to make the world a better place.”


One-on-one with students, show them a picture of Dr. King, and ask his name.  Then ask them to tell you about Dr. King’s dream.  Ask them to tell you 2 things about Dr. King.


Additional independent practice or reteaching:

Center time activities:

Have students sort pictures of children cooperating and children fighting or arguing.  Students match Dr. King’s picture with the children that are “getting along with each other.”

Students can create a bulletin board of children that are cut out with a die-cut machine.  Arrange children in a black-white (AB) pattern to form a circle to represent our world.  Place a world in the middle and discuss things that we do daily to get along with each other.


Make a birthday cake to celebrate Dr. King’s birthday.
Make a peace medal with a picture of a dove for children to wear in celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King holiday.

Visit these websites with your children: