Martin Luther King, Jr. day is upcoming on Monday, January 16th. Instead of treating it as another time to get a day off work or school, now is a great opportunity to share with your kids about who this important person is behind the holiday, and the significance. Just a few days ago, my own 6-year old daughter asked who MLK was when I told her she had a day off school soon. This got my wheels spinning on how to best explain this to her. So here are some ideas below!
There are some amazing books out there about MLK, in particular, in kids format. One of my favorites is the book, “Who Was Martin Luther King Jr?”. There are a series of books that explain a lot of historical figures, and we love them all! You can buy it here, or head to the nearest bookstore to browse through the books in store! I think reading an age-appropriate book with pictures is a really great way to teach younger kids.
Teach Your Kids About Kindness and Fairness
MLK stood on the principles of fairness, equality and justice for all. Share with your kids a video of his famous speech, or read it to them. Take this time to share just how important it is to treat everyone with kindness. In honor of MLK, pick something kind you can do for someone else today, like taking flowers to an elderly neighbor, paying for someone’s meal in the drive through, or making a handmade card for someone special. I cannot think of a better way to honor the day and his legacy, then to spread kindness.
Arts and Crafts
If you have preschoolers, they probably respond best to hands on activities. I have found some great printables such as coloring sheets, craft ideas, and word searches and crosswords (for the older kids). You can browse that here, and print as needed!
Be Honest With Your Kids
Sometimes conversations can be hard to have with our kids. But our history is important, and the truth needs to be shared. Of course, it is up to every parent to decide what is age-appropriate and the right time to have hard conversations. Share with your kids about the civil right movement, what it is, and what people experienced during that time. Share with them why it was important to MLK to march and fight for the rights of himself and others.
The local Tennessee State Museum (FREE!) i a great place to visit. It is always closed on Mondays, so you cannot go on MLK day, but I highly encourage a visit. It walks through the history of our state and touches on the Civil Rights era. You can see great exhibits and read all about it. They also have a fun kids section for your littles!
The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis is a must-visit experience that everyone should have. It is worth the drive to Memphis, and can be done in a day, or a long weekend. I have been and the entire experience is humbling, somber and eye opening. The museum guides visitors through five centuries of history — from the beginning of the resistance during slavery, through the Civil War and Reconstruction, the rise of Jim Crow, and the seminal events of the late 20th century that inspired people around the world to stand up for equality. You will also visit the Lorraine Hotel Building, where MLK spent his final hours, and they have keep it preserved and in tact.
*Tennessee residents with state-issued ID may visit the museum for free on Mondays from 3 p.m. until closing, except holidays and special occasions.
If you are traveling to Atlanta, I encourage you to visit the MLK birthplace and Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. Go hear his story, visit the home of his birth, and where he played as a child. Walk in his footsteps, and hear his voice in the church where he moved hearts and minds.