Celebrating and teaching the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day and beyond is so important. This year, there may not be as many in-person events, but there are still plenty of ways to educate kids about the leadership and service of Martin Luther King Jr. and his bountiful contributions to society.
7 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inspire a new generation of activists to make the world a more just and fair place for all.
1) Creating a More Humane World: MLK Day Critter Camp.
Kids can learn so much through interacting with animals. Most importantly, they discover that all living beings deserve compassion and understanding––a lesson Martin Luther King Jr. fought every day to teach. This year, in honor of MLK Day, Critter Camp at Helen Woodward Animal Center is focused on creating a more humane world. Campers will interact with a goat, Madagascar hissing cockroach, chicken, snake and guinea pig while learning how to be compassionate to all animals.
2) Songwriting 101: Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
This songwriting event is recommended for ages 7+ and is such a fun way to educate your child about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement through music. In this introductory workshop, join a museum educator on Zoom to write a song as a group. Music professional Adam Ollendorff will teach the fundamentals of songwriting, including form, theme and rhyme scheme. Via chat, participants will share ideas and write an original song. Ollendorff has toured as a member of Kacey Musgraves’s band, and his songs have been recorded by Will Hoge and Keb’ Mo’. Guardian is required to be present for kids under age thirteen. Takes place via Zoom. Space is limited. Registration required and the event is free. Registration closes at 9 a.m. the morning of the program.
3) Create Your Own Day of Service.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a National Day of Service and we are home from school and work to reflect on his message and carry it forward. That’s why each year I pack up the car with cookies and coffee to deliver to the fire stations in Detroit. Other years I fill it with feminine products and sweets to take to Alternatives for Girls and other women’s shelters. Find a cause that means something to you or even an individual you know who has special needs right now and make their day a little brighter. If we all do a little something, we can make a big difference.
4) FAMILY FIELD TRIP.
5) Make a “peace” craft.
Here’s another way to honor MLK’s messages of peace and love through artwork. Paint peace signs, create paper dove garland or paint a dove using your child’s handprint. These crafts are easy and fun for preschoolers and elementary school kids, plus you probably already have the supplies needed around your house.
6) Color a picture of MLK.
Sometimes the easiest way for a child to learn is through art. These free printables from Crayola are simple and age appropriate, plus they could be a good way to follow up reading an MLK book together. Grab some crayons and markers and get to creating.
7) Art projects.
Have children trace their hands on construction paper and cut them out. Overlap each hand to form a circle and glue them down to a sheet of paper to show that no matter how different we look on the outside, we are all the same on the inside. This learning activity helps demonstrate unity and respect.