Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Primary Grades

Young children will enjoy learning about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.! Today I’m sharing how I create kindergarten MLK activities and lesson plans to help students understand social justice and celebrate the life of Martin Luther King.

MLK Jr Day Crafts for Preschool, Kindergarten, or First Grade Students

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Do you usually celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day with your students? This is a great time of year to talk about Martin’s big words and incorporate Martin Luther King crafts, activities, printable, nonfiction resources, favorite books, and more. I’ll show you how I incorporate writing prompts and use these social studies resources with preschool, kindergarten, and first grade students to study this amazing man!


Are young children ready?

Okay, hands up if you already love studying Martin Luther King, Jr. with your students! I LOVE teaching my KINDERGARTEN students all about him. I’ve found that elementary students and younger kids are especially interested in MLK Jr.’s philosophy and all that he stood for. I’m now an ESL teacher for my district and we really enjoy studying all of the important ideas that he shared.

I’ve heard teachers say that 5 year olds aren’t old enough to understand the Civil Rights Movement but I strongly disagree. In fact, I KNOW for a fact that’s not true. Younger students really see the world in a neat and unbiased way. These important lessons need to be handled delicately but I hope you get some great ideas from the different ways you can handle this subject whether you teach preschool or even high school!

I have found that using picture books and sharing parts of the story of Martin Luther King Jr. is a great way to really dig into kindness and standing up for what you believe in.

Circle Discussion

We always begin our Martin Luther King Jr. activities in early January since we celebrate this great man on the third monday every year. This is a federal holiday and the perfect time to talk about how to plan a day of service for the community.

To begin, I always start by gathering my students in a circle on the carpet. I tell them that we are going to learn about someone very important. We will learn about a man who changed the course of history. I share with them that some people think they are too little to understand what they will learn today, but I know differently.

Next, we usually read through a couple of Scholastic weekly readers. I don’t discuss his death. We do discuss how white people used to sit on the front of a bus and black people were told to sit on the back. We also talk about how children went to different schools and even drank from different water fountains. They are so passionate about the injustice of it all. They scream out, “That’s not fair!” and “God made us all the same!” It’s adorable & the perfect reminder of why I became a teacher.

We always study Dr. King’s life and his role as a civil rights leader. I do not usually discuss his death with them. We listen to parts of his Dream Speech.

Kindergarten MLK Activities

I have Martin Luther King activities that will teach your students all about Dr. King’s life. I’ve included class books which will help them gain a strong understanding of this important man. You can grab it on TPT by clicking on one of the covers below

The word wall cards & real-life photos are perfect to help you start a discussion with your students.

Beautiful Skin Tones

I LOVE how passionate my students get. Each child rolls up their sleeves to look at all of the BEAUTIFUL skin tones in our classroom. We talk about how wonderful it is that we can all go to school together now and we discuss how brave MLK was to stand up for what he believes in. It always gives me chills.


After our discussion, we use pieces from the resource to make a few meaningful crafts. In the first picture in this post, you see the child pressing her finger in some paint (an ink pad would work great too). Before beginning, we strategically laid out the name sheet beside either a heart or dove on each child’s work area. Students were told to go around and write their name somewhere on every person’s sheet. When they finished, I let the students get out puzzles and called them over a couple at a time. I showed them how they would go around to every paper and put their fingerprint beside their name on the key & then about 5 times on each picture.

I can’t believe how beautiful these are! We added a couple of different quotes on the sides (in the resource!).

One of my students exclaimed, “The different colors represent the different colors of our skin.” I could have cried. Okay, I did a little. 🙂

They were so proud of these. We also made these adorable earth crafts. We started by painting the earths. While those dried, the students took their time coloring & cutting out their “dolls”. I loved how these turned out too.

I also used many of these pieces in the resource to talk with my Parent English Class about MLK, Jr. Most of them did not know what he was famous for. We had a GREAT discussion.


The page topper crafts are quick & easy!

If you aren’t into the time-consuming crafts, there are some simple ones included as well – just click the picture below to see this resource in my TPT store.You will find every printable page you have, MLK coloring pages, and everything you need to plan these important days leading up to this special day.


I hope you enjoy this resource as much as my students and I did. It’s never too early to help your students understand that every skin tone is a beautiful one.

Free Photo Card Templates

Have you seen these new free photo card templates I made for you? Head here to grab yours!


MLK Jr Picture Templates

Want to grab some ideas for other holidays? Or maybe you want to read about how I’m incorporating all of the Science of Reading research in my classroom? Head here!

Happy Teaching & Parenting this week, friends!

Author: hilarystatum

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