THE LEGACY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING
CONTENT AREA: Social Studies, Language Arts
Grade Level: 5-9
Objective 1: Students will be able to explain the importance of Martin Luther King and support why there is a holiday named for him.
Objective 2: Students will read a book about Martin Luther King and use at least two phrases from the book to support their opinion.
Objective 3: Students will learn meanings and signs for new words, the spelling of those words, and use their newly-acquired vocabulary as appropriate.
Student work is from Samantha Hudson's 7th and 8th graders at Young Junior High in Arlington, TX (Arlington RDSPD). Thanks!
ASL Video introduction
Small-Group Activity: Activate Prior Knowledge
How Many Heroes Can You Name?
- Project the video and encourage students to name the heroes.
- Divide students into small groups and ask them to come up with a list of ten ideas or thoughts in answer to the question: What makes people important enough to be called a hero or to have a special holiday named after them?
- Have students combine their lists into one large list. Have them discuss and debate the order of importance of each of the items on the list.
Individual Activity: Pre-Reading
Students skim their chosen book or look at the glossary to make a list of words they do not know. Students use the internet to research the meaning of the word and the ASL sign for that word.
Students write their new words in the "New Words" box and color the image of their choice:
Individual Activity: Reading
As they read the book, students look for ways in which Martin Luther King could fit any of the responses they listed. Have students make notes about the page number and phrases that support their opinions.
Worksheet: Holiday for a Hero Worksheet Click to download the worksheet.
Book choices: (Note: Other books may be substituted.)
National Geographic: Martin Luther King, Jr.
2nd – 4th grade
All About Martin Luther King, Jr.
4th – 6th grade
Martin Luther King Jr Let Freedom Ring
Grades 6 and up
- What was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream?
- In what different ways did he tell people about his dream?
- Why did Martin believe in using peaceful protests like marches to change things?
- How did his idea of peaceful protest contrast with those who opposed him?
Whole Group Discussion
After reading, ask students in what ways Martin Luther King Jr. fits their idea of a hero or someone important enough to have a special holiday. Students should refer to the book and their notes to phrases that support their opinion.
Individual Digital Activity: Vocabulary
Use Quizlet Flashcards to study the vocabulary in Dr. King's famous speech.
Direct students to:
- Take the short quiz first and see how you do. Write down your score.
- Then, study the vocabulary using flashcards.
- Lastly, take the quiz again. Write down your score. Did you do better? Show your teacher your progress!
Individual Digital Activity: EdPuzzle
EdPuzzle: Watch the EdPuzzle video and answer the questions
Note: The teacher will not be able to record answers unless he/she has a free EdPuzzle.com account.
Individual Project: "I Have a Dream Too" Speech
Whole Group Activity: Discussion
- Hand out copies of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” portion of his speech.
- On their handout, have students highlight the subject of each of Martin Luther King’s dreams and the setting (the where, such as the entire nation, Alabama, “the south,” etc.). Point out that Martin Luther King dreamed for his nation, he dreamed for all men and women and all children, and he even had a dream for his own children.
- Discuss with students what they think Martin Luther King Jr. would say today in his speech. What problems would he want to solve? What issues would he see as being the most important? What issues do they (the students) see as important? What would their dream be? Guide students into thinking about the nation, the world, their community, and even their family. Record students’ answers.
I Have a Dream Handout Click to download the worksheet.
Individual Activity: I Have a Dream Too
- Hand out copies of the “I Have a Dream Too” worksheet.
- Have students complete the worksheet on their own.
I Have a Dream Too Worksheet . Click to download the worksheet.
Alternate activity: Dream Cloud Mobile Worksheet Click to download the worksheet.
Choice 1: Create Your Own ASL Version of the Speech
- Divide students and give each a section of the “I Have a Dream” speech to sign.
- Students create a poster with their version of the speech. This will be used in the video, but can also be used as a "prompter" while they are signing their section of the video.
- Students video themselves or each other signing their section of the speech, with the written or printed portion shown before they begin signing.
- Teacher or student string videos together.
- Posters can be hung in order on bulletin board or wall.
Below is a partial storyboard:If you complete this project, we would love to highlight your students’ accomplishment! Send us your video to be posted here and on our YouTube channel!
Choice 2: Collaborative Poster
- Show students completed poster.
- Hand out coloring sheets for the collaborative poster. (Note: for ease of combining the poster later, trim tiles according to instructions before handing out to students.)
- Refer to the numbered grid and have students write the number of their piece (in pencil) on the back of their coloring page.
- On the numbered grid, you may want to record the student's name in each tile.
- Discuss colors they would like to use for background and other elements.
- Have students look back at their “I Have a Dream Too” worksheet and/or the book they read and decide on a word or phrase they would like to write on their coloring sheet. (Teacher might want to make a list so students do not repeat what another student has chosen.)
- Hand out colors or colored pencils and have students color their tiles.
- Hand out markers and have students write their word or phrase on their tile. Encourage students to write in pencil first and trace over with marker.
- Have a group of students (or the teacher) tape the back of the poster together.
- Hang in a prominent area.
Coloring Pages (Zip file) Click to download a compressed file of 16 coloring pages.
Numbered Grid Click to download a numbered grid.
1. Recommended viewing: Our Friend Martin
2. Guided reading: I Have a Dream Speech
More Activities and Ideas
For more ideas on Martin Luther King Jr. activities, including writing tie-ins, bulletin board ideas, art projects and more, visit our Martin Luther King Jr. Pinterest board.