Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Resources to Teach About Martin Luther King, Jr. (And a Freebie!)

It has been way too long since I last posted. Teaching got crazy. Please forgive me!

Anyways...you guys, I'm getting really excited. Some may think it's because I'm counting down the days until our next day off (MLK Day), but that just isn't it (although it will be nice to relax).

I'm excited because with Martin Luther King Day just around the corner (and Black History Month), I get to teach my littles about Martin Luther King, Jr. Y'all...this is my favorite unit to teach!

Elementary kiddos learn about MLK every year but I think that in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, students get a more watered-down version of history. There's nothing wrong with that; many of the events that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement were intense and very mature for younger ears. I feel like when students enter 3rd grade however, they are ready to hear more about the injustices of the time.

When I taught this unit last year, my kids were in shock that human beings could treat each other the way they did during that era. I do try to keep my unit focused on the positive things that Martin Luther King, Jr. did for our country, but I think it's important to explain to students exactly what MLK was up against. It helps them to appreciate his accomplishments more.

Okay well anyways...I just wanted to stop by and share some things I like to do during my MLK unit in case you are still looking for things to do to celebrate the life of this American Hero!

First, I have a few books that I love to read aloud and have on display during my Martin Luther King, Jr. unit. My absolute all-time favorite book to read during this unit is Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.

Here are some other books that are great to have around for students to read during this unit:

Next, I lovelovelove the Martin Luther King, Jr. leveled readers that Reading A-Z has. You have to have a subscription to Reading A-Z but I think it's totally worth it. I use their leveled readers in small groups ALL THE TIME! I use this leveled reader because this book is offered in 3 different levels! It's perfect for small groups. Each book also comes with Guided Reading lesson plans and graphic organizers for the skills being covered in that book. The higher leveled books really go into detail about the injustices that MLK and African Americans faced during that time and my students can't get enough of the history!
Reading A-Z

 Now everyone knows that I'm OBSESSED with ReadWorks.org (see post HERE). I do a ReadWorks passage almost every week. Well, ReadWorks has MLK passages for all grade levels! I can't wait to use some of these with my small groups! They all come with question sets, too so that is useful to check for understanding!


Toward the end of our unit, I like to show my students a video of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 'I Have A Dream' speech. The kids are always captivated by his speech. It's so awesome! I like to use the video below (you can click HERE to be taken directly to the video). It begins with a clip of the actual March on Washington which is pretty cool.


I have a ton of other activities that I do during this unit but I just wanted to share a few with you so I'm sticking to my favorites.

Finally, my absolute favorite activity is a writing activity that I use as a culminating activity. It's called a RAFT and I just love doing them in my classroom! Students get to choose their Role, Audience, Format, and Topic. Get it? My students EAT this project up! I get some really creative responses and I can't wait to do it again this year! I make sure to encourage my students to use facts that we have learned from our unit in their RAFT. Many of my students like to reference our read aloud books, leveled readers, and passages to make sure they get their facts straight and that makes my teacher heart happy! I'm offering my RAFT as a freebie for you below (click the picture)! I hope you can use it during your MLK unit!


Finally, if you need some more ideas and activities to complete during your unit, make sure you check out my newly posted Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit. It's jam packed with reading and writing activities to spice up your unit! I can't wait to use it again this year with my class!

 MLK Unit

I hope your first day back from winter break was enjoyable and not too exhausting! Spring break is just around the corner :)