Lesson Tutor: Thematic Studies: Martin Luther King Jr.

Theme of the Week – Martin Luther King, Jr.
by Belinda Mooney

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

This week’s theme is Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a great black civil rights leader. Here you will find ideas, links to activities, worksheets and lots more.

Here is what the Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia tells us about him:

King, Martin Luther, Jr.

1929-68, African American clergyman and civil rights leader; b. Atlanta, Ga. An active Baptist minister and a moving orator, he first gained national prominence by advocating passive resistance to segregation and leading a year-long boycott (1955-56) against the segregated bus lines in Montgomery, Ala. He subsequently set up the Southern Christian Leadership Conference as a base for nonviolent marches, protests, and demonstrations for African American rights, such as the 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 voter-registration drive in Selma, Ala. King was awarded the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, but his leadership was challenged as civil rights activists became more militant. In the late 1960s he intensified his opposition to the war in Vietnam and to economic discrimination. While planning a multiracial Poor People’s March for antipoverty legislation, he was shot and killed in Memphis, Tenn. James Earl Ray was convicted of the murder. King’s wife, Coretta Scott King, 1927-, b. Heiberger, Ala., carried on his civil rights work after his assassination. She wrote My Life with Martin Luther King (1989).  The Concise Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia Copyright© 1994. Columbia University Press. Licensed from Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products N.V. All rights reserved.


    1. (Language Arts) Look up and write the definition for words like:

Freedom Segregation Fair Equality

  1. (Language Arts, Research Skills) Research the Nobel prize. What did Dr. King do to earn it?
  2. (Language Arts) Have the children make their own biography of MLK.
  3. (Art, History) Make a magazine/newspaper collage of things that might represent what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for or articles about him.
  4. (Art) Design a stamp in his honor
  5. (Art, Language Arts) A

    Teeny, Tiny MLK book

    to color and make.
  6. (Geography, History) On a map mark important places in the life of Martin Luther King. Mark the marches he took. Explain why each place is important.
  7. (History, Art) Add him to the timeline. We make our own figures.

    Making Friends

    has paper doll patterns you can color yourself or print out in various skin tones. I download these them reduce them for the time line
  8. (History) Add the various events throughout his life and the Civil Rights movement to the timeline also.
  9. (Art, Social Studies) Draw a poster with the heading I Have a Dream and have the children draw a picture of what their dream for themselves or their family is.
  10. (History, Language Arts) Discuss Rosa Parks. Add her to the timeline. Read a book on her. Rosa Parks, by Eloise Greenfield, or David Adler’s A Picture Book of Rosa Parks.
  11. (Language Arts) A good book for older kids is Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.
  12. (Language Arts, Speech) Have older children prepare their own Dream Speech and recite it.
  13. (social studies, character) Talk about things like segregation . Now is a good time to introduce multiculturalism younger students.
  14. (social studies, character) Talk about fairness and being fair and just to others who are different from us.
  15. (Art) We are drawing pictures of a bus and then gluing faces of all different races into the windows.

Books to read:

  • Jean Marzollo – Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King
  • Lowery, Linda.- Martin Luther King Day.
  • Martin Jr., Bill and John Archambault.- I Am Freedom’s Child
  • Mattern, Joanne.- Young Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”.
  • Adler, D. -. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr..
  • Bray, R. -. Martin Luther King.
  • Clayton, E. -. Martin Luther King: The Peaceful Warrior.
  • Hakim, R-. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the March Toward Freedom.
  • Lowery, L. -. Martin Luther King Day.
  • Patterson, L-. Martin Luther King, Jr. And the Freedom Movement.: Facts On File.
  • Young, M. -. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Life and Death of Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Martin Luther King Jr. by Diane Patrick
  • Martin Luther King Jr.: a Picture story by Margaret Boone-Jones
  • Martin Luther King Jr.: Free at Last by David A. Adler