One of my favorite units to teach in first grade is MLK Jr. I think it is so important for children to see how far we have come and understand the way things used to be. My students seem so surprised when they learn how people were treated based on their skin color.
One of the first things we do is read “Young Martin Luther King Jr.” by Joan Mattern but any non-fiction text will do. We complete an Anticipation Guide. If you have never done one, you NEED to. My first graders love them. Before reading the book, I read the statements and the students highlight true or false. They make a prediction. We use highlighters so they can’t change their answer! Next we read the story. Because they have heard parts of the story in the anticipation, it leads to great discussion during the story. After reading, we go back and I re-read the statements. This time they circle their answers on the “What I Learned” side using pencil. I tell them that this is the only side I will grade. Finally, at the bottom we change a false statement and make it true.
Another way we gather informations about MLK Jr. is through closed passage. This is part of my January passages. You can see my students highlight information we use from the passage to answer the questions. They are already using text evidence!
We also read our Scholastic News which is always informative and engaging for the students, especially the free videos that come with it.
There are wonderful videos on YouTube too. Our favorite is by Kid President.
Once we have a lot of information on MLK Jr., we do an informative writing piece.
We web little bits of information. I call them “snip its”.
We also talk about peace. What is peace? What is peace in the eyes off a first grader? We share our ideas and then write our Peace Poems. We also make these cute little crafts. I love the many faces of MLK Jr.
Another topic we discuss is a dream. What is a dream in the eyes of a first grader? You would be surprised at how genuinely thoughtful they are. We complete this activity below. I love to read their wishes.
We also read a story called “The Crayon Box that Talked”. It is a perfect fictional book to discuss not judging someone by their color. I use the box of crayons and pass out one to each student. We make our own crayon box. We talk about how boring our box would look if the crayons were all the same color. Then we connect this idea to us as individuals.
Our crayon box turned out so cute! I just love my box of crayons!
We also read another passage called “Wally and Sam”. This is a fictional passage that pairs with my MLK Jr. passage. It is about a walrus who thinks he is the best in the Arctic because he has tusks.
When we finish this passage, we compare and contrast the two with a Venn diagram. My students love working together and collaborating. Check out these cuties below.
I hope you gathered some great ideas. We celebrate diversity everyday but it so special to honor someone who made a difference in our country!