9 Ways to Celebrate MLK Day with Your Kids
Including children in celebrating the life and accomplishments of Dr Martin Luther King Jr is not only important but is also more accessible than ever. There are countless educational tools and resources to help teach little minds about the civil rights movement, racial justice, and the importance of diversity and inclusion. As we prepare for MLK Day, here are 9 ways to celebrate MLK Day with your kids!
Volunteer or Give Back
“LIFE’S MOST PERSISTENT AND URGENT QUESTION IS, ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING FOR OTHERS?'” – MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
Compassion and empathy were at the heart of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s work. By creating space to advance those same values, we honor his legacy. There are service organizations ready to accept help all around the country, many of which have special projects set up for extra hands on MLK day. Here are a few opportunities that are available just about anywhere,
- Take a trip to the grocery store and have children pick out nonperishable goods to bring to a local food pantry
- Make cards, notes, or crafts to take a local senior center
- Have kids put together a special birthday box for children in foster care through Together We Rise
- Search Points of Light (the world’s largest global volunteer network) for volunteer opportunities in your area
Watch or Listen to Dr Martin Luther King Jr.’s Speeches
You can rewatch the historic “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King Jr at The March on Washington. The video is about 17 minutes long, and you can create space to continue a conversation after watching with the following questions,
- Can you think of a time when something wasn’t right, and you spoke up?
- What does it feel like to be excluded? Have you ever been excluded from something?
- What is something you can do to make others feel more included?
- What are big things you’d like to change in the world?
- What is your big dream?
Watch Educational YouTube videos
Along with watching the I Have a Dream Speech, you can also check out these educational YouTube videos that help younger minds begin to understand the magnitude of the work of MLK,
The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Kid President - YouTube
The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. - MLK Day! (Animated) Black History Month Video - YouTube
Martin Luther King Jr - Animated History - YouTube
Read Books About MLK
“THE FUNCTION OF EDUCATION IS TO TEACH ONE TO THINK INTENSIVELY AND TO THINK CRITICALLY. INTELLIGENCE PLUS CHARACTER — THAT IS THE GOAL OF TRUE EDUCATION.” – MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.
No matter what age kids you have, there are some amazing books out there to help you teach them about MLK and what he stood for. Here are a few of our favorites for both preschool and elementary school age kids,
- I am Martin Luther King, Jr by Brad Meltzer
- My Uncle Martin’s Big Heart by Angela Farris Watkins
- Good Night Martin Luther King Jr by Adam Gamble
Elementary School Picks:
- A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein
- I Have a Dream by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
- Let The Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson
Read Books About Diversity and Inclusion
Continuing with the importance of education and reading, there are several amazing books that help kids begin to grasp the importance of diversity and inclusion. These books not only provide tools for talking about diversity and inclusion, but practical ways to celebrate it!
- The Colors of Us by Karen Katz
- Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs
- We’re Different, We’re the Same by Bobbi Kates
- Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley
- The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
This is a fun and helpful tool for younger kids to begin learning about what makes us unique, but also what makes us the same. The Sandbox Academy details how to facilitate this simple yet impactful activity:
If you have both brown and white eggs at home you can very easily put together this simple experiment where kids can see that the color on the outside doesn’t determine what is on the inside.
Note: You can even take this a step further and cook the eggs separately to see if they taste different.
Check Out Learning for Justice
image by Learning for Justice
Learning for Justice provides free educational resources on racial justice, strengthening intersectional movements, and advancing human rights of all people. You can quickly and easily search their Classroom Resources with filters such as grade level (available for K-12), Social Justice Domain, Subject, and Topic. While these resources are primarily for educators, they are designed so you can also facilitate them at home! These are all made available for FREE through a number of outstanding organizations.
Buy Black Owned
You may recall author Maggie Anderson gaining international attention in 2009 as she pledged to only “buy Black” for an entire year. She recently shared about her experience at Emory University’s 2021 Martin Luther King Jr Lecture, where she connected her family's experience with King’s legacy from both economic and personal standpoints. You can read about her historic year here, and check out a few of our favorite Black Owned Businesses for kids,
- Ade + Ayo | Children’s clothing celebrating African cultures
- Brave + Kind Bookshop | Thoughtfully curated diverse + inclusive, artiful, classic kids books
- Puzzle Huddle | Children’s jigsaw puzzles featuring diverse characters
- HarperIman | Handmade, linen keepsake dolls offering representation in both skin tone and hair texture
- Little Likes Kids | Puzzles and games that reflect the wonderfully diverse world of today’s kids!
Attend the Annual Dr Martin Luther King Jr Parade Virtually
Unfortunately, due to the recent surge in COVID numbers, there will not be a live in person parade to attend in 2022. The 41st Annual MLK Holiday will be honored with the long-standing tradition of the Peace Walk, as well as looking forward to the return of the parade in 2023!
If you are local to the DC area, you can still register for the Peace Walk. But, for those of us who live elsewhere, there is a replay of the 40th Annual Martin Luther King Virtual Parade available here!
We are so very grateful for the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. May we keep his legacy alive by advancing the causes that mattered most to him! Happy MLK Day!Be sure to follow on Instagram + Join Our Email List to save 15% off your first order!