Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! My husband and I always try to do something with our kids on this day to promote conversation about Martin Luther King Jr. and the lessons he taught. I believe that teaching your kids about Dr. King – his life and his message – make today’s holiday even more meaningful and have a significant impact on your kids in the future. If your kids are school-aged, they will likely have learned about Dr. King already, but continuing this learning at home will only enhance their understanding. Plus, they’ll see that these issues and topics are important to their parents too.
First, what is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day? Most of us know what MLK Day signifies, but here are some notes to help when talking to your kids today:
- Dr. King was a minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is known for using non-violent civil disobedience to advance Civil Rights in the United States.
- Dr. King was born on Jan. 15, 1929, and this year marks what would have been his 88th birthday.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day of remembrance established by the U.S. government to honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the third Monday of January.
- The official federal holiday was created 15 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968, thanks to a petition with more than 6 million signatures submitted to Congress.
- MLK Day gives us a day to reflect on the monumental changes one man set in motion.
Here are some suggestions on things you can do with your kids today:
- Read a Book about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and discuss the lessons he taught about freedom and racial acceptance.
- Create a simple craft, like making a peace sign or peace dove to hang up in the window.
- Attend the peace parade or kid-friendly MLK event in your area – check out our Weekend Happenings for a list of these!
- Read the “I Have A Dream Speech” and talk about what it means. Have every family member write down a dream they have.
- Research Dr. King videos and quotations online and talk about them together.
- Create a kindness tree or jar and document acts of kindness all week from family members.
- Perform random acts of kindness throughout the day.
- Talk about people in their lives who exemplify the qualities of Dr. King. Tell those people.
- Make today a day of service – help someone, donate to people or businesses in need, volunteer somewhere.
- Watch an age-appropriate movie that you can tie back to the messages of this day (I’m planning to take my girls to see “Hidden Figures” this afternoon and talk about civil rights, empowerment and dreams.)
Do you have other ideas? How will you honor MLK Day with your kids today? I’d love to hear in the comments.