Martin Luther King Junior resources are here! Engage your intermediate-grade students with text, activities, video, audio, and crafts.
Ms. Sneed Searches for Martin Luther King Junior Resources
Our favorite fourth grade teacher, Ms. Sneed, wanted to do more for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Hmm, what could she find? Above all, her students must get a sense of King’s life and legacy.
First, she needed a high-quality biography – something just right for fourth graders. Ms. Sneed searched Teachers pay Teachers for just the right thing. Wow, they sure had a lot to offer. But here – this one was perfect. In addition to a three-page text, the file included timelines, cause-effect, quotes, and more.
Now that she had some instructional materials, Ms. Sneed searched for videos. After watching six videos, she found the right one. The six-minute close-captioned video from Free School was designed especially for children. Because it explained historic events, the video would help her students understand the racial tension of the mid-1900s. Ms. Sneed saved the video with Safeshare.tv. (That way, her kids wouldn’t see any ads.)
Now only one thing was missing: the speech. Ms. Sneed found a 16-minute audio file of “I Have a Dream” on AmericanRhetoric.com.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Analyzing the Speech
As Ms. Sneed’s class took their seats, the voice of Dr. King rung out. “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. I have a dream today!”
When the audio clip ended, Ms. Sneed asked, “What parts of this speech were most important to you?”
“I liked the ‘I have a dream’ part,” said a boy in the back of the room. Other students shook their heads in agreement.
“And do you think Dr. King’s dream has come true?” asked their teacher. Quizzical looks passed across the classroom. Some kids nodded; others looked unsure.
“Today, I’m sure you all know, is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. We’re going to learn a little bit about the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s life, and how all of us can continue his legacy.”
Learning About the Civil Rights Movement
Ms. Sneed walked to her computer and pressed play. The students watched as the video explained Dr. King’s life in historical context.
“How did life then differ from ours today?” Ms. Sneed asked.
“I can’t believe that people had to drink from different fountains,” blurted out a child in the front row. The other kids’ faces and nodding heads showed their agreement and disbelief.
“I agree,” said the teacher. “Some things have changed. But some things haven’t. Let’s talk some more.” The class spent a good half hour discussing racial segregation, police brutality, and problems that still arise on the playground. They talked openly about how kids sometimes say mean things to others who are different than them.
“I’m so proud of the way you have shared your experiences in a civil way,” Ms. Sneed said. “That was important to Dr. King. He believed in peaceful, nonviolent resistance. We’re going to take a little break right now. When we come back, you will read about MLK’s life and do some activities.”
Exploring the Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the students came back to their desks, they saw some papers. “You can complete the first set of activities on your own,” said Ms. Sneed. “First, you’ll read the three-page biography silently. If the text seems too hard for you, come to the table, and we’ll read it together in a small group. When you’re finished reading, cut out the events on this page. Then glue them onto the timeline.
“If you have time,” she contined, “you can move on to the cause-effect paper. And if you finish that before everyone else is done, you can make a birthday card for Dr. King.” She pointed to a stack on the front table.
Everyone got busy. Some kids went to the table to read together. Others grabbed scissors and glue.
Finally, when most kids seemed to be finishing up, Ms. Sneed clapped her hands for attention. “Next, we’ll analyze some of Dr. King’s quotes. Each table will get a quote. I’d like your group to consider Dr. King’s message, as well as how it applies to us. In ten minutes, each group will report back to the class. Go!”
When the ten minutes were up, each group moved to the front of the classroom to present. “Our quote is ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’ We think this means you should love your neighbor. And when you have a disagreement, you shouldn’t fight. Instead, you should be kind to each other.”
“That’s great,” commented Ms. Sneed. “I’m sure Dr. King led his life that way. Remember what we said about peaceful resistance?”
Culminating with a Craft
After lunch, Ms. Sneed had even more planned. “Okay everybody, let’s watch this video. It shows how to make a Martin Luther King Day Kirigami Peace Circle, a circular paper chain of children holding hands,” Ms. Sneed explained.
As the students worked on their crafts, Ms. Sneed heard a girl in the back whisper to her neighbor, “I want to be more like Dr. King.” Ms. Sneed’s eyes misted a bit, and a small smile tugged at her heart.
Just then, Ms. Sneed became aware of something. Studying famous people inspired kids to be better people. Next, she would plan an entire biography unit.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Sneed realized that there were 6 steps to enjoy teaching. In order to survive, she had to organize, plan, and simplify. Then, to thrive, Ms. Sneed needed to learn, engage, and finally – dive in! Follow the Fabulous Teaching Adventures of Ms. Sneed and learn how you can enjoy teaching too.