To many children- and some adults, MLK Day is considered an off day. This is a perfect opportunity to educate yourself or get involved as a family to teach your children Dr. Kings legacy.
Since having children, I often wonder, what is the right age to teach my children about prominent African American public figures? I have learned that the age of two, is when most children grasp and comprehend what is being articulated to them. If my child can distinguish their primary colors, then I believe it is a good age and opportunity to have the identity and complexion conversation. Some may question is this necessary? Yes! It became necessary when America's society made skin color a stigma.
I have put together a list of frugal and fun activities for kids to do on MLK day.
Most children love to read, or hear stories that involve heros. Picking an age appropriate book will be key, if you are looking for a book for toddlers (2-4) consider reading I am Martin Luther King Jr. by Brad Meltzer. Children who are a little more advanced may enjoy Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
You can't go wrong with Youtube! Watch MLK famous " I have a dream" speech. I would recommend this for the older and more mature audience. Initiate a conversation on what message he is conveying and how the famous speech has an impact on America today.
One of my favorite movies on social injustice is, To Kill a Mockingbird. This movie showcases everything from Prejudice, oppression and various other emotional topics. Please be advised that some content may be overwhelming for small children.
There are several free events that take place in each city and state. Check with your local library and museum for local in expensive events that will take place throughout the day. Many organizations will have service day events, such as Universities, Churches, or non-profit organizations that will commit to servicing the community and volunteering in bringing everyone together for a greater cause.
Take time to discuss and identify social injustice with your children. This is the perfect opportunity to open up and allow them to express what they may have experienced at school, or understand about social injustice. Familyeducation.com has exercises to help identify discriminatory behaivors. The scenario is a real life situation, and often experienced more than parents know. Inquire about your children seeing this behavior and how they would/ should/ have react.
There are many free sites that offer coloring sheets at no cost. Here is a link to a site that me and my children are utilizing to take advantage of learning activities for MLK day. While they are coloring, spark a conversation that you are celebrating his birthday and explain, in child appropriate terms, why. For example, you could tell them that Dr. King wanted to help people get along, and to make sure they shared equally, much like we as parents want for our children.
No matter what you choose to do on this day, be sure to use this day to participate in activities in his honor, and to educate your children (and yourself) about King’s role in radically changing the social landscape of the United States.
Here are a few of the coloring sheets we have worked on here in Japan. Draeson loved the math coloring sheets. There is nothing more rewarding as a mother, than giving them an educational learning activity that they have fun with.