In many classrooms, Black History month begins with an insightful
look into the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. This influential
American had a major impact on the country and civil rights. There
are several ways you can incorporate Martin Luther King Jr. themes
into your classroom.
1. The life of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Have students
learn the history of Martin Luther King, Jr. Depending on the
age of your students, you can focus on what he might have done
as a young child or some of the important things that he did as
2. I have a dream: Take a look at the famous speech. You
can have students listen to a recording of the words, read along
with the script, or have a discussion about how the speech changed
the lives of African Americans. Have students write their own
"I have a dream" speeches detailing things they would like to
see changed in their neighborhood or the country.
3. The Assassination: Older students can discuss the details
surrounding the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and how that
changed the civil rights movement. You can also take a look at
other assassinations throughout history, and how they changed
or affected the course of events.
4. Home sweet home: Introduce Martin Luther King, Jr.'s
home in Georgia. If your class is not in Georgia, you can discuss
differences in climate, vegetation, and political history. Or
contrast King's real home with what his home might have looked
like if he was born today.
5. What it would have been like: Have students write a paper from the point of view of one of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s supporters. Have them imagine that they were part of the freedom march, listening
to the "I Have a Dream" speech, or nearby during the assassination
attempt. Encourage them to use descriptive adjectives and imagery.
6. In the news: Many cities will have Martin Luther King,
Jr. memorials and other celebrations for Black History Month.
Have students bring in newspaper and magazine articles detailing
current events. Then you can go to the library or online and look
for newspaper articles from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s time.
7. Create a timeline: A timeline can be a great visual
aid for students to picture what was occurred during the different
years that Dr. King was alive. Divide students into groups and
have them look up meaningful events to contribute their piece
of the timeline.
8. The Nobel Peace Prize: Dr. King was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1964. Have students research the reasons why he
was awarded this honor, other famous persons who have won the
Nobel Peace Prize in the past, or discuss who they think should
receive the next Nobel Peace Prize.
9. A look at equality: While racism is not as glaringly
obvious today as it was in Dr. King's time, students may still
feel prejudice against them for color, race, sex, physical attributes,
and more. Have students take discuss the things that make them
different from their classmates, as well as things that are the
same, and discuss how they can treat each other more fairly in
10. Throw a party: What better way to celebrate a holiday
honoring Dr. King's birthday than a birthday party? Encourage
students to bring in ethnically different foods to celebrate their
differences, and discuss how Dr. King helped to make it possible
for them all to attend class together.
With a little planning and research, you can introduce the inspiration of Dr.
King to your students.