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5 Ways to Plan a Martin Luther King Jr Day for Kids

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On the third Monday of January, the United States observes a national holiday called MLK day. It helps to honor and remember the mission of Martin Luther King Jr. 

He dedicated his life to fighting for equality. His movement led to the civil rights act of 1964. But he was most famous for his march on Washington.

These events are important parts of U.S history. But we know that teaching them to children is so much easier if you add some fun tradition to it. Here are five ways to plan a Martin Luther King Jr day for kids.

Statue of Marthin Luther king Jr memorial in Washington DC
Marthing Luther king Jr memorial in Washington DC

1. Plan a day(s) with activities for kids to honor the mission of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Write a dream speech with your kids about what you wish for the world.

  • If you want to opt for a virtual experience, you can attend the Annual All Peoples Celebration. This year’s theme is Love + Power. Kids will enjoy learning about all the movements that Dr. MLK, Jr. led, listening to talented musicians, and more.

  • Watch movies with POC leads like Hidden Figures, Akeelah and the Bee, Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, The Pursuit of Happyness, or Canvas.

    For younger children, animated movies such as Soul, The Princess, and the Frog can be a great way to bring diversity and start conversations.

  • Organize a game night themed around MLK day. For instance, bring on a little friendly competition. Play a civil right inspired trivia or take the Martin Luther King Jr Quiz
Amazon cover of Martin Luther King Jr. A children’s biography book
Cover of Martin Luther King Jr. A children’s biography book : Amazon.com

2. Go to your local bookstore and choose a picture book about his life or mission to read together.

Letting them be in control of the content they read helps kids better remember what they read. Here are a couple of examples: The Story of Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr, My Daddy Martin Luther King Jr.

If you can’t go out that day, watch this video storybook on amazon prime. It has 3 stories about major events in the fight for equality.

Do your local libraries and bookstores offer Storytime?  Storytime is a great way to put some fun and social activities into your day while learning about this important cause.

>>>Find bookstores great for kids on the Gowhee App.

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3. Give back to the world to honor his memory

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was created to be A Day of Service because that is what was important to him. The best way to honor his memory is to involve children in different activities with a sense of service in mind.

  • Support Black-owned businesses that sell a product you like or provide a service that you value. But remember, support doesn’t always come in the form of spending money. Share these businesses with your social circles, mainly on your social media. Write and share an online review of the business on websites like Google, Yelp, etc.

  • Help a local charity by volunteering your time there with your kids. Here you can find some near you: Local Nonprofits and Charities

  • Support a local food bank. You can find one here: Feeding America. Your kids can pick out their favorite foods to donate. 

  • Create a service group in your community. Invite your kids and others to provide services for seniors in your neighborhood like free lawn care, gardening, and snow shoveling. 

  • Clear out your bookshelf of older, gently used DVDs and books and donate them to a local children’s hospital.

Have the family share their experiences of giving back. Help your children process what they did. Communicate how it felt to be of service to others. 

And don’t forget to as them what they learned in the process. Remind them that this was the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Picture of the graves of Dr king and Mrs king in Atlanta Georgia
Graves memorial of Dr and Mrs King in Atlanta, Georgia. Picture from Gowhee App.

4.Take your Kids for a Cultural Field Trip to learn about the Civil Rights Movement

Since kids are out of school for the day, it is the perfect opportunity to make plans for them on a road trip to visit and experience something that will stay with them forever.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, D.C. is a great place to start. It is located in the heart of the nation’s capital. The Stone of Hope statue of MLK Jr. is an amazing sight to see. Inscribed in the memorial walls are quotes from Dr. King that show everything he stood for.

At The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, you and your kids can explore the movement that changed the nation. Learn about the stories of Dr. MLK, Jr, and dive into the tales of many other people from Mississippi. The museum also offers some information about the people who traveled many miles to stand beside the fight for equal rights.

The civil rights leader was born in Atlanta. A great way to honor his memory and teach kids about his mission is to visit his birth home. Discover where he lived for the first twelve years of his life. 

Still in Atlanta, kids and adults will enjoy visiting the symbolic MLK Jr. “I Have a Dream” World Peace Rose Garden. The garden is an artistic way of expressing Dr. King’s model of peace through nonviolence. It is one of five major World Peace Rose Gardens around the world, created by International World Peace Rose Gardens.

While standing at the Peace Plaza and facing the rose garden, don’t miss the graves of Dr. and Mrs. King. It is also the perfect opportunity to help little ones understand the importance of respecting public memorials and not running around in public.

>>>Find more places for kids in Atlanta, Georgia

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5. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s day for kids is not just one day. Carry the remembrance further.

 One day of the year is not enough for kids to grasp historical complexity and digest social studies events. So try to incorporate these ideas during the whole black history month (February), and throughout the year, too. Doing acts of service, as Martin Luther King led throughout his life, is good for the soul anytime. 

These acts of service teach kids that everyone, no matter the color of their skin or their cultural background, needs and deserves love and care.  

Although it is important to teach and talk about the importance of voting, equality, and acceptance of all people.
The best way to teach children is by example. If you see something unfair in the world, speak up or create a movement. 

We are all human beings after all. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is one human that is endlessly worth remembering. Let’s have his legacy live on through the kindness of our children.

Tell us below, how do you spend MLK day with your family?

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