Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Preschool Activities for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

As I set out to write a blog post about fun and educational activity ideas for child care programs to do on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I came across many websites with coloring pages, worksheets, and other printables, and it frustrated me a little bit.  If you're looking for ways to teach children about the true meaning of this day, I think there are more developmentally appropriate ways to go about it.

Why not simply share a nice book about Dr. King at story time?  Here are some suggestions:

Reading books like these can be the start of wonderful discussions with young children.  We often share fiction books with preschool children, but non-fiction books are just as important.  Talk about the difference before reading one of these selections.

If you want to do an art activity based upon this theme, here is a good one:

A Dream Quilt from Everything Preschool
We discussed Martin Luther King, Jr. and talked about how he dreamed of a world where people didn't fight and hate people because their skin was different. Then we looked in mirrors at ourselves and each other. We also talked about what quilts are, blankets or covers that are made of little pieces.

At art time each child drew a picture and dictated what they dream of becoming. Some examples were, "I want to work with animals", "I want to cook the food", "I dream of being a friend" etc. Then we placed each individual picture on a large piece of bulletin board paper with a border around the edge and titled it "Our Dream Quilt".
If you're looking for a simple way to explain who this important man was in terms that young children can understand, use this script found at Twiggle Magazine.
Martin Luther King, Jr. is important because he helped our country realize that it needed to change some very unfair laws. A law is like a rule. Sometimes rules are fair and sometimes rules are not fair. What are some of the rules that we have in our class? Are the rules the same for everyone in the class? Are they fair to everyone?

Use the story of Martin Luther King Jr. as a way to start circle time conversations about how everyone is unique and valuable. Building a classroom community based upon kindness, caring, and equality is perhaps the most valuable way to celebrate the holiday!