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5 Martin Luther King Jr. Activities for Kindergarten

Are you looking for fun, new ways to teach your young students about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.? If so, you’re in the right place! As a teacher of littles, I know it can sometimes be tricky to find activities for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day that are engaging and age-appropriate. Today I’m sharing my favorite way to teach kiddos all about this great man! Come along as I share my favorite Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities for lapbooks!

Make MLK Jr. Activities Fun

When it comes to preschool, kindergarten, or 1st grade, no matter what lesson you’re teaching, it needs to be presented in a fun way. If you work with littles, I’m sure you already know this! When we are working with students with shorter attention spans, it’s crucial to find ways to grab their attention and keep it!

In my classroom, there’s one tried and true activity for this…. lapbooks! If you’re not already familiar, lapbooks are a smaller version of an interactive notebook and are great for young students.

We make our lapbooks out of manilla file folders and fill them with interactive foldables, paper pockets, and cut-outs on a specific topic.

I like to use lapbooks for a variety of topics like apples, insects, plants, and more! They are such a versatile way to focus on a new topic with your students.

When it comes to teaching all about Martin Luther King Jr., lapbooks are my go-to method! I love that using lapbooks provides a way to corral all of our Martin Luther King, Jr. activities into one place.

Books to Introduce Martin Luther King Jr. Activities

To get started, I’m a big fan of reading a few books all about Martin Luther King Jr. There are so many great ones out there for young students, but here are a few of my favorites:

I like to read books like these aloud during our morning meeting and then have some open discussions with the kiddos. We chat about things they learned in the book, the accomplishments of MLK, Jr., and his characteristics. This is a great opener to our first lapbook activity!

1. All About MLK Jr.

Once we’ve read a few books about Martin Luther King, Jr., it’s time to start with our learning activities!

One of the first lessons I like to use in our classroom is a flipbook recalling information about MLK, Jr. This is a great activity to do in small groups after reading your books as a class.

You can make an anchor chart with this information and then have students fill out their flipbooks as you gather information.

The flipbooks we use have spaces to record when MLK Jr. was born, facts about his family, some info about his life, and a page for his accomplishments. You can have students write words, draw pictures or both!

Once your students have finished, make sure to have them glue the flipbook down in their lapbook. Once it dries, they will be able to lift each flap and reveal the facts they chose!

2. Martin Luther King Jr. Sorting Activity

Next up, one of the topics we always discuss when learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is peaceful versus non-peaceful actions. Since MLK Jr.’s mission was so tied to peace, this is a great way to help students understand what this looks likes. Before we start, I always take just a minute or two to talk about the word peaceful and provide some additional adjectives like calm, pleasant, and friendly as a way to help children understand the definition of this word.

Once we’ve got that down, I have kiddos cut out some picture cards with actions and pictures on them. The cards we use include things like:

  • smiling
  • helping someone
  • playing nicely
  • sharing
  • being kind
  • kicking
  • biting
  • yelling
  • bullying

These simple actions are easy for my kindergarten students to understand and relate to our topic. The children sort each one into peaceful or non-peaceful groups and then color the pictures. We glue paper pockets labeled “peaceful” and “not peaceful” to our lapbooks and then place the cards in the corresponding spots.

3. MLK Jr. Vocabulary

Learning about Martin Luther King Jr. often means learning some new words. These BIG vocabulary words can be a bit tricky for young students to understand, but they are also essential for learning about the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. To help students understand and remember these words, we always make sure to include them as an activity for our lapbooks.

The vocabulary words I focus on with my students include: rights, equality, peace, protest, and segregation. These are big words, with long definitions, so I made a “kid-friendly” definition for each that’s a bit paired down and simplified. I read each definition aloud to my students and then ask for a volunteer to share where they think this happened in one of the stories we read. Once children connect these words to an example, it’s much easier for them to absorb the meaning.

We glue a vocabulary word bank down in our lapbooks with flaps that lift to reveal each definition. My students love to show this feature off to their parents and share what they have learned!

4. MLK Jr. Facts

There are so many wonderful facts to learn about the life and accomplishments of Martin Luther King Jr. For this reason, I like to have students choose a few of their favorites to record and add to their lapbooks. This open-ended activity allows the children in your group to reflect on what they’ve learned and choose their favorite facts. Some of the things students might include could be:

  • facts about his life & family
  • facts about his character
  • facts about what he stood for
  • facts about his famous speech
  • facts about his accomplishments

This is a great activity to do when children will have access to the books, anchor charts, and any other visual materials you have used for your lessons. Allowing access to these materials is a great way to have students brainstorm their favorite facts!

I have my students choose 5 facts and write a few words or draw pictures to illustrate them. Then we add a small paper pocket to the lapbooks to hold their facts.

5. MLK Jr. Timeline

As one of our final Martin Luther King, Jr. activities, I like to have my students create a timeline that details key events in their life. The timeline is organized with numbers 1-5 to help them connect chronological order to number order.

Students will color and cut out pictures for each number and then glue them down in order. The events include his birth, when he became a preacher, when he fought to end segregation, his Novel Peace Prize, and his death.

Once the pictures are glued down and dry, children can fold the timeline like an accordion and glue the bottom edge to their lapbook. The timeline can be unfolded to reveal each event.

Extending Martin Luther King Jr. Activities

Once you’re finished with all of your Martin Luther King, Jr. activities, be sure to take a moment to decorate the front and back of your lapbooks!

I have my kiddos add a title to the front that reads “All About Martin Luther King Jr.” along with a cut-out picture of him. On the back, students color another picture of Dr. MLK Jr. and add their own dreams in thought bubbles above. This final brainstorming activity is a fun one to allow your students to think about some important dreams of their own!

These are just a few of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Activities you can include in your lapbooks! Beyond these, there are so many more options including:

  • MLK Jr. had/was/did chart
  • MLK Jr. helped/was/wanted chart
  • MLK Jr. KWL chart
  • MLK Jr. Adjectives
  • My dream is…writing prompt
  • Favorite MLK Jr. Book
  • Compare MLK Jr. & Me
  • I can be a good friend by…writing prompt

My favorite thing about lapbooks is that they can be customized based on the unique needs of your group! Picking and choosing activities that work best with your students makes differentiation easy.

Digital Martin Luther King Jr. Activities

Another great way to differentiate these Martin Luther King Jr. activities with your students is with digital activities.

In my classroom, I also use a digital version of the MLK Jr. lapbook activities to help bring my lessons full circle.

I like to pop these activities up on the screen and go through them together with students as a way to review them as a whole group. I also like to assign these as homework for students who missed our lessons and even use them for technology centers.

Combining digital activities with printable lapbooks is a great way to ensure the most learning opportunities!

Make Your Own MLK Jr. Lapbooks

If you’d like to check all of the activities mentioned here, be sure to take a peek at the Martin Luther King Jr. Lapbooks! This fun resource will simplify your planning with everything you need to make MLK Jr. lapbooks in your classroom!

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Hi, I’m Julie!

If you are looking for hands-on, engaging kindergarten activities, you came to the right place!

I’m here to save you time by sharing tried and true kindergarten resources, tips, and ideas and hopefully give you some ideas for your own kindergarten lesson plans!

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