How To Teach Martin Luther King Jr Accomplishments To Your Students

Teaching the many Martin Luther King Jr. accomplishments to my students is a humbling and honoring experience. Since I taught first grade, we could do a unit on Dr. King without my students having learned about him their entire school lives. I felt very honored to give my students the opportunity to learn about Dr. King’s amazing life.

Which Book About Martin Luther King Jr. Should I Read?

martin luther king jr accomplishments

My favorite book about Martin Luther King Jr. is “Martin’s Big Words”. I begin our unit by reading this book to my students. They’re mesmerized because many of my black students could see themselves mirrored in his childhood. 

I also think that it was eye-opening for them to see that Dr. King used to be a child just like them! How many times have your students become amazed when they learn that adults were once children too?! The book talks about Martin Luther King Jr. childhood through adulthood.

“Martin’s Big Words” has beautiful illustrations and delicately touches on the tough topics of racism and hope and how Martin Luther King Jr. died.

You can get a copy of the book here through Amazon. (Affiliate link)

Learning About Quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Dr. King said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”

We read many quotes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, but we spend a lot of time on this one. We talk about how he’s not sleeping while he’s dreaming, but he’s thinking about something that he would like for the world. We talk about what it means to be judged unfairly by the color of your skin. And we talk about what the content of their character means. 

There are days where, well… first grade just doesn’t get that deep. I’m sure you get it. But when we’re studying any accomplishment of Martin Luther King Jr, we can have some of the best conversations of the year.

Studying I Have A Dream By Martin Luther King Jr.

It’s important for first grade students to have a dream too. It’s great for them to begin thinking about what kind of world they want to create for them when they’re adults. Shocklingly enough, I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember. When I was in the first grade, my dream was to be a teacher. And to have a polar bear. I remember distinctly that I wanted a polar bear. 

When I tell my students this story, I want them to think about which dream would help me make a better place in this world for others. So even though it would have been THE COOLEST thing to have a polar bear as a pet, becoming a teacher is the dream that showed the most impact on the world because I could teach children to have their own dreams!

Classroom Activities For You To Try

martin luther king jr accomplishments
Over the years I collected many Martin Luther King Jr. classroom activities, but my favorite kinds and the ones I stuck with the most were more than just a coloring page of a dove. 

You can see the collection of Martin Luther King Jr. activities at literacystations.com. You’ll find mini-books, digital activities complete with a video showing Martin Luther King Jr. accomplishments and life. Your students can choose their own dream, and complete a timeline based on Dr. King’s life. 

I hope you enjoy them!

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Rachael Hull

Rachael Hull

Teaching literacy and facilitating literacy stations has been a passion of Rachael's and she wants to help you gain confidence in your classroom!


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