Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a day to talk about cooperation, acceptance, peace and caring for all people.
Preschool children are very concrete so you may need to bring it to their level as in caring about EVERYONE in their class or their family.
This theme page has enough activities for a one day theme of preschool activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom.
Let the Theme planning begin!
You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for this theme.
Or, you can click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Peaceful Classroom Hearts
Materials Needed: Assorted colors of construction paper, supply of heart shaped tracers (hearts cut out of stock paper or manilla folders); markers, scissors, assorted arts and crafts items (sequins, ribbon, etc.) and glue.
VARIATION: One year, we taped a piece of paper of their response and they decorated that as well. When dry, the hearts were hung on a display wall and the parents lifted each paper to read each child's response!
Buddy Handprint Collage
Provide a piece of paper as large as your art table! Place out different colors of fingerpaint and have the children cover the paper with their prints. Show them how to use their hands to "stamp" the paper.
EXTENSION: Fingerpaint is NO fun unless you can just wipe your hands all over the paper!
Tell the children that first they are going to just make handprints on the paper. When done, you will place another large piece on the table for them to do what they want with!
Share the Toys
Materials Needed: Several play people (like Fisher Price people) and cars should be added to your block area.
Remind children that cooperating and sharing and working together is important.
Prompt cooperative play. Example: How can they get the people over a river? Can someone make a bridge? Can someone now try to see if the car fits on the bridge?
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about Martin Luther King, Jr!
What is a hero?
Ask the children if they know what a hero is? Accept all answers.
Explain that a hero is someone that a person thinks is brave, and honest (noble). It is someone who people really like and would want to BE like someday!
Ask who their hero is? Who do they want to be like someday? Write their answers down.
Explain that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a man who is a hero to many. He worked hard toward peace--ALL people getting along and being treated the same. Back then, people were treated badly if they did not have the same color skin.
Dr. King wanted to change that. He made a speech--or long talk--that he had a dream that someday, ALL people would get along no matter what color their skin was.
Sing one of the songs from the songs listed in the Music and Movement section below.
Read a book about Martin Luther King, Jr. You may need to improvise as most books I've seen are too "old" for this age group. Though many of the books state Prek-2nd grade, I find them more geared to lower elementary.
Ask questions or allow children to ask questions as you read the book to them.
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation!
Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to talk about qualities of being friends: getting along, sharing, saying kind words to and about each other.
Cooperation Cooking Station
Ingredients and Items needed: Large blanket for a picnic; Items for trail mix (pretzels, crackers, teddy grahams, raisins, etc.) all in individual bowls; 1/4 cup scoops; ziplock baggies.
In advance, write each child's name on a baggie. Tell the children that they are going to work together and make a snack for their friends.
Hand out the baggies to the children, giving each child the bag with another child's name on it. Tell the child the name of the child they are making the snack for. (I would not let the children choose the name of the friend they want to make it for. The idea is to be kind and help everyone in school, not pick and choose!).
They then go from bowl to bowl and put one scoop of each item into the baggie. Help them seal the bag when done.
When all the children are done, place the blanket(s) at circle time and call all the children over. Have them deliever the baggie to the friend they made it for.
Enjoy this snack while talking about cooperation and helpfulness!
Materials Needed: Continue your cooperation and helping others with this traditional and popular set up! This area is always an area where children need to learn compromise as they decide who will "be the Mom, the Dad, the baby, the teenager, etc.".
Instead of 2 pieces of paper (1 for each child) on the easel, place one large piece that two friends should both paint together!
Materials Needed: In advance, cut a large wall poster into enough pieces for each child to have one piece. Have them work together to put the poster back together.
Book Suggestions for the LibraryHappy Birthday, Martin Luther King Jr. (Scholastic Bookshelf) by Jean Marzollo
Provide different shades of multicultural paper. Have the children trace their hands with crayons. Either they can cut them out or just have them decorate their hands.
This is a great fine motor activity and they can cooperate by helping each other learn how to trace!
Materials: 2 laminated pictures of each child in the classroom. Play a memory game with the pictures. Helps with name recognition as well as with memory and fine motor skills!
How Many are Missing
Materials Needed: Place up to 8 little people (plastic) out. Have child count them.
Instruct them to close their eyes. Take one away. Ask how many are missing? Or, which one is missing? Can they identify the missing person? If 8 is too many, start with 3!
You are a Hero!
sung to "You Are My Sunshine"
You are a hero to many people
Of your dream for peace We love to sing.
You said we should be kind to each other.
Your name is Martin Luther King
Martin Luther King Had a Dream
sung to If You're Happy and You Know it
Martin Luther King had a dream, Yes he did.
Martin Luther King had a dream, Indeed he did.
He dreamed we'd live as brothers
Having love for one another
And his dream is still alive through you and me..you and me!
Dr. King Had a Dream
sung to the tune of Old MacDonald
Dr. King had a dream
He wanted people to be friends
and live in harmony.
He had lots of love to share.
He spread kindness everywhere!
Dr. King had a dream
Share and Help
Materials Needed: Any that you decide will work for this theme. Water, sand, etc.
To encourage the idea of sharing, have one less item than there are children. For example, if there are 4 children at a time at your Sand and Water table, have only 3 cups, 3 spoons, 3 measurers, etc. to encourage sharing and turn taking and working out differences in what they want.
Same on the Inside
Materials Needed: Brown eggs and white eggs (you will need a brown and white egg per PAIR of children). Have children investigate this in pairs and small groups.
Let them investigate the eggs, describe the similarities and differences. Then open them. You can give them hard boiled eggs so that you don't have to worry about them falling and breaking!
You can then follow up by showing them 2 eggs that have NOT been cooked and ask if they think they will look the same on the inside.
The message will get through...though different on the outside, same on the inside, just like people!
All of our children LOVE crowns ANYTIME! We make a special crown for each child when it is the child's birthday and many of the kids want it to be their birthday!
Materials Needed: Provide precut crowns out. Provide the word PEACE printed on large paper. Instruct the children who can to write the word on their crowns.
For the children who are still learning letters, write the word lightly with a pencil on their crown and instruct them to trace over the lines with marker.
The children can then decorate them with markers and crayons and wear their Peace Crowns!
EXTENSION: To encourage tracing and cutting skills, you can have the children trace their own crown (from one that you have made out of stock paper or a manilla folder) and then have the children trace and cut their own.
EXTENSION: Add glue, miscellaneous arts and crafts and/or glitter to decorate!