Teaching Elementary Students about Martin Luther King, Jr.
I have been digging around in some older resources and stumbled across this amazing mini-unit I created on Martin Luther King, Jr. My students adored this unit. It was a lot of fun.
I actually created this unit for an arts integration class I was taking at the time, so it’s full of fun! That said, I call it a “mini-unit” because, at the time, I was only able to teach social studies about 30 minutes a day. This unit was made to be taught in that time in under 3 weeks. (Anyone else know the pressures of standardized test prep?!?)
I’m no longer stuck within those tight parameters for social studies instruction, however I know some of you could still use some help squeezing in this vital topic. Or, perhaps, you just need a short unit to get your students’ interests piqued? Either way, this short, engaging unit is a great opportunity for your students to learn more about the Civil Rights Movement.
This unit uses the book “My Brother, Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” by Christine King Farris. She provides a unique perspective on the life of a man who is very famous. Starting with this book allows us to get a slightly different perspective than the other nonfiction books we’ll read later on. Plus, this book introduces the main vocabulary for the unit.
If this is all sounding interesting, you can learn even more and get this resource on my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.
At the time when I created this unit, I was teaching in a school with a very diverse student body. I allowed some additional time to discuss my students’ thoughts and feelings regarding the issues Martin Luther King, Jr. faced, as well as how they thought and felt race still affected them. This was a very meaningful departure from my unit plan. Please take your own students into account when you think about how to facilitate questions, feelings, and comments on a topic like this! You are an expert on how they need to process issues of inequality.
Teaching Tolerance is a good resource if you aren’t sure where to start with teaching tough subjects like the Civil Rights Movement. They have some elementary-specific resources and strategies that could be helpful.
If you have any questions about this resource, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
I hope you enjoy teaching this unit! I know my students loved it.
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