Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with Kids

Here are some ideas to explain the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.'s impact.

When explaining the significance of the civil rights movement and the impact Martin Luther King, Jr. made as an activist to children, there are plenty of resources available for families when it comes to discussing this heavy subject matter.

These projects, books, events and activities will help familiarize your children with MLK and the themes of equality and peace on a level they can understand. If your child has Martin Luther King, Jr. day off from school, set aside some time to learn about the civil rights leader together.

Read “I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World)”

This biography is perfect for elementary students who are being introduced to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s message for the first time. The book explores MLK’s life and fight for justice while staying appropriate for young children, making it a great conversation starter.

Color a picture of MLK 

Sometimes the easiest way for a child to learn is through art. These free printables from Crayola are simple and age appropriate, plus they could be a good way to follow up reading an MLK book together. Grab some crayons and markers and start creating.

Make a “peace” craft 

Here’s another way to honor MLK’s messages of peace and love through artwork. Paint peace signs, create a paper dove garland or paint a dove using your child’s handprint. These crafts are easy and fun for preschoolers and elementary school kids, plus you probably already have the supplies needed around your house.

Attend MLK events and exhibits in your area

Chicago and the suburbs usually has family events to help commemorate the day. Check out our calendar to find this year’s events. We also suggest checking out these two MLK-related exhibits: King Day at DuSable Museum of African American History and Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Chicago History Museum.  

Watch the “I Have a Dream” speech

For older kids, watching the speech that Dr. King famously gave on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial is a powerful way to hear his message. Despite taking place almost 55 years ago, King’s words resonate just as strongly today.

Participate in a service project

Did you also know that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is also observed as a day of service? Your family can make an impact for your community in honor of Dr. King with these service projects.

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