Kids’ Care Club centers are closed every third Monday of January to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Celebrated near the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on January 15, this special day is devoted to honoring the civil rights leader that fought for equality and justice in the United States.
It’s never too early to learn from the lessons of this great leader in developmentally appropriate ways. For preschoolers, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is the perfect opportunity to learn about the importance of diversity, respecting one another, unity, and other universal values and themes that MLK Jr. worked tirelessly towards. While the details of the service that MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement itself may be difficult for your preschooler to understand, we encourage activities with the central themes of Martin Luther King Jr.’s work.
Here are our five recommendations.
5 Preschool Activities to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.
1. Read, read, read!
Celebrate the day by reading picture books about Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and message. There are countless children’s books available that can help your preschooler understand the importance of broader themes such as equality and justice. Some of our favorites are listed below.
- Who was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader
- A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittnestein and Jerry Pinkney
- I am Brave: A Little Book about Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
- I am Martin Luther King, Jr. by Brad Meltzer
- The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Johny Ray Moore and Amy Wummer
2. Listen to and Sing Songs!
Listen to and sign songs about peace, love, and unity with one another! These songs help children to understand the importance of these moral values in building a better world for all. Here are our three favorites that are specific to celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. himself.
3. Print Outs and Crafts
Head on over to the Kids’ Care Club Pinterest where you can find an array of different printout coloring pages and craft ideas to celebrate the day. Printouts and crafts are fun, interactive ways for children to learn more about the themes of MLK Jr., while still expressing their creativity and honing in on their fine motor skills.
4. Celebrate other Cultures
Use the day together to learn about, appreciate, and explore other cultures! You can try new types of food or cook a new recipe together (yes, your preschooler will be excited to help you!), listen and dance to new types of music from other countries, and read books that highlight new cultural traditions.
Learning about other cultures can help your little one better understand and appreciate the differences among individuals in terms of their beliefs, practices, and traditions.
Did you know that MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a National Day of Service? It’s a call to action to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. The best part? Volunteering comes in so many age-appropriate shapes, sizes, and forms.
Spend the day picking out nonperishables from your cabinets together, and pack a box for your local food bank. Create thank you cards to carry with you for the day, and gift them to different workers throughout the day. Foster your toddler’s interest in finding similarities and differences between objects, and work on sorting recyclables and learning the importance of reducing, reusing, and recycling. Walk around the neighborhood, a local trail, or the beach with a garbage bag and pick up trash.
Donating your time, and energy, and showing the importance of helping others will establish lifetime values of giving back to your child. Reflect on the experience, and recognize how good it feels to help out our fellow neighbors and community.
Most of all, use this day together to remember that Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only a day to remember the past, but also a continuous reminder to work towards a more just and fair world. By teaching your preschooler about MLK Jr. and the service he did to make a difference in the lives of others, you are building a foundation for them to grow up to be kind, socially responsible, and respectful individuals.