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January 17, 2020

Five Skills to Practice on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with your children.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day reminds us of the importance of service to our communities. It also highlights how every person, even those facing obstacles and disadvantages, can make a big difference in the lives of others.

Many people choose to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. through acts of kindness. They volunteer to serve meals for people experiencing hardship. They raise awareness for causes that matter to them. Or they simply lend a hand to the people around them.

Little ones can be a part of those celebrations too! The five activities and conversation prompts below can help you honor King’s values, like pacifism and leadership, with your preschooler, pre-K learner and school-age child.

1) Pacifism

  • Talk to your little learner about the word peace. What does it mean? Discuss how your words can be peaceful too. How do you feel when others say kind things? And how do you feel when they say things that are mean? 
  • After discussing the word peace, grab some paper and markers and draw a symbol that represents peace to you. 
  • Ask: “Have you ever seen someone act really mean with another person?” and “What did they do to stop that?” 
  • With the help of dolls or other toys, role play two people having a disagreement. Practice different ways for resolving conflict.

2) Knowledge and Education

  • Dedicate a special time of the day to learning something. You can:
    • Visit a museum — many offer free admission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day
    • Stop by the library and check out books on interesting subjects
    • Watch a “how to” video together
  • Ask, “Why do you think it’s important to learn new things?” and “What helps you to learn new things?“
  • Discuss the value of education. Why is it important that schools and libraries are free to everyone?
  • Read a story together and choose a word you didn’t know before. Look it up in the dictionary and find out what it means.

3) Love

  • Grab markers and paper to make thank you cards for people you love. Make drawings that represent why you love them. Then, tell them you love them too.
  • Play your favorite songs about love and dance to them together. Here are some suggestions:
    • L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole
    • What the World Needs Now by Dionne Warwick
    • All You Need is Love by the Beatles
  • Discuss why love is important. Are there different ways of showing your love? Talk about the different ways for saying “I love you.”
  • Ask, “What would the world look like if everyone loved each other?”

4) Equality

  • Play a game that requires taking turns:
    • Dominoes
    • Memory or card games
    • If you have a sand timer from a board game, use it to come up with your own games where you each get a minute to do a dance or a drawing
  • Discuss what the word “equal” means. How is the meaning different when we say it in measuring something or when we talk about others?
  • Ask, “Does everyone in your classroom follow the same rules?” and “How would you feel if you were the only one who had to follow the classroom rules?”
  • Make a drawing or a list of different ways you can help people be treated with equality.

5) Leadership

  • Discuss what good deeds are. How often do you do nice things for others?
  • Come up with three good deeds you can do together and write them down. Need ideas? Check out this post for teaching children the art of giving.
  • Ask, “Have you ever felt scared about doing the right thing?” Use examples like seeing someone tease another person, but feeling afraid of saying something. “What is the right thing to do?”

Do you have other ways of celebrating this important holiday? Share in the comments!

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