Friday, January 18, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Lesson Plan and Supply List

Tonight I'd like to share with you what we are planning to do in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day this Monday, just in case you'd like to quickly print off my supply list and head to the store (or better yet, your craft closet) tomorrow. We've had the flu all week (more on that later), so we've called off school- and everything else, for that matter- for nearly a week. I'm being optimistic as I write out this plan, thinking that we'll all be physically and emotionally well enough to tackle such an encompassing and often difficult topic. But, optimism never hurt anyone, so here goes... !
Image from First Grade Parade

While making breakfast on Monday morning, I'll ask the kids to help me make the eggs. I'll take out a white, brown and (just for fun) a blue egg for them to wash. While they do, I'll use this great mini lesson from First Grade Parade to demonstrate how we're all the same on the inside, regardless of what's outside. I LOVE concrete learning for little ones!

Deb at Living Montessori Now posted this video on her MLK Pinterest board, and I really love it's simplicity. I'll be using this video to take our conversation from breakfast food to people.
We'll discuss this video and I'll explain to the children that the third Monday in January is a special day when we all recognize the efforts of this special man. It will take some explaining- our children are still very much on the younger side of understanding complex racial issues, but we'll talk about how our country was not always the welcoming place that it is today, and even though it still isn't perfect, we try very hard to love one another regardless of our differences.

I predict that the concept the kids will be in tune with from this video and short discussion will be that of "fairness." This is a "big person" ideal that really speaks to the heart of a child's budding sense of morality, so it's going to be a very hot topic this year at our house. As soon as I explain that African American people were living under laws (rules) which were unfair I'm going to have a lot of questions and indignation, and I am anticipating a fair amount of relating the unfairness in their own little lives to the bigger unfairness of the world at large. I'll encourage that thinking- it's important for them to be able to make sense of the information in their own way.

To illustrate what it would be like to not be allowed to do something just because of something silly and arbitrary, like the color of one's skin, I will use this Lego block demonstration from Twiggle Magazine. Since we are big-time Lego fans around here, the kids will surely feel a sense of injustice at being told they can only play with one or another color of Legos!

We will most certainly be playing this animated video by Daria, all day long. It's got a great folk-tune sound and it is being provided free of charge on Daria's website. The refrain is "I have a dream" which will lead us right into dreaming about the world that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. might have envisioned...
Free printable and picture from Welcome to Room 36

...or that my little ones envision as being "fair and just". Welcome to Room 36 offers some great ideas to celebrate here, but the one I'll be using is her free printable (shown above), which encourages children to think about what their own dream for the world might be. I can't wait to hear what they think up!

[As an aside, I wouldn't typically use two videos to discuss a topic with the kids because I try to tread lightly on the screen time exposure- even for academic purposes- but I might also show the kids this video from Brain Pop, also recommended by Welcome to Room 36. It's very well done, and it connects Dr. King's involvement with Rosa Parks better than the first video, and we studied Rosa Parks in-depth last year during Black History Month. Depending upon mood and interest level, I may push to show this video, too.]

Last, I'll ask the children to help me establish a peace table, or a peace space, in our home. The world was so intolerant of differences before Dr. King began his work because people allowed hate to enter their hearts and change their paths. Drawing much inspiration from this round-up post by Deb at Living Montessori now, I'll ask the children to help me find a quiet space, and to collect some items from our home which help them to calm themselves. I'll ask them to think about how much harder it is to be angry and to think we hate others when we're calm, in a loving space. I'll share the idea that our world still isn't perfect, despite all the good work that Dr. King and others have done, so it is important that we all learn to calm ourselves and to (in our faith system) ask God for help and guidance before we act unfairly.

I can't wait to post some pictures about how our day goes. I wish you the best with yours, however you're celebrating!

Activity Supply List:

Egg demonstration:
At least two eggs (more if you want to feed your family!), one black and one white
A plate or pan to break them into
Access to a computer and internet connection

Lego Simulation:
Red/Blue colored dots (or any other two colors, could use markers to mark childrens' hands as well)
Bin of assorted colored Legos

MLK Song:
Access to a computer and internet connection

I can Dream Like Dr. King writing/drawing exercise:
Number of printables necessary for each child you're teaching to have one
Crayons/markers/colored pencils for writing and decorating 

Creating a Peace Space:
A quiet(er) space or table you don't mind giving over to children's needs
An assortment of peace-related items like mandalas, meditation balls, a flameless candle, pictures, plants, a small water fountain or sand garden... anything that symbolizes peace to your child

Looking for More ideas to help your children and family celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr Day? Check out my MLK and Black History Month Pinterest Board!

In case you're wondering, Mama won't be left out in the observation of this day, either. I'll be listening to the full speech, lighting a candle in memory, and saying a prayer of thanks for those who have gone before us to make our world just a little bit better for our children to inherit.


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