When I teach about MLK, I always start around his core beliefs of freedom, equality, peace, love, friendship, and justice. I provide each student a sheet like the one below and have them think about what each of these words mean to them. They then write it in the first column. After several minutes we share out and discuss them. (I also have an alternative where we write in one column our viewpoint of those words, and in the other column we write Martin Luther King’s Viewpoint.)
I love this book because of the captivating artwork and that it reads like it’s fiction. It outlines the historical events of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr pursuit of equality, while laying out his vision for America. Since the title is Martin’s Big Words- we discuss literal vs figurative language. The words of MLK was not literally “big words” or long words but rather powerful words that rang out like music and caused people to stop and listen. I remember the first time I heard MLK speak his “I have a dream…” speech (on tape of course). It moved me. It stirred things up inside me and created goosebumps! After reading the text, we then return to our sheet to write the meaning of these words after reading the text. We again discuss these.
After we discuss the important events (though the timeline was not a complete list of all his accomplishments and historic activities), we then partner up and I have students read a piece I wrote about Martin Luther King Jr. (This piece could be read ahead of the timeline assignment and used as a reference for it, if desired.) Then from that piece they complete this cause and effect activity (because we ALWAYS need extra practice with cause and effect).
After this, I provide students the opportunity to see Martin Luther King Jr in action.
There are a lot of activities above, so feel free to pick and choose or even modify them to your liking and class’s needs! All of these activities above are FREE to download at my TpT store. I even added some writing pieces (not mentioned above) for your students to complete. You can access it by clicking here.