30 Meaningful Martin Luther King Jr. Activities for All Ages

Encourage reflection on Dr. King’s life and legacy.

Collage of Martin Luther King activities, including a collaborative poster and footsteps activity
We Are Teachers; Art With Jenny K; Teach Them to Fly II

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most influential civil rights leaders of all time. We celebrate him each year on or around his January birthday, taking time to remember how his life (and death) inspired a legacy that still moves us today. Many students now know him only as a hero, but in the 1950s and 1960s, Dr. King was considered a troublemaking rebel. (Read What My Students Don’t Understand About Martin Luther King Jr.) Explore his words and actions and get involved in today’s social justice movement with these Martin Luther King Jr. activities for kids in grades pre-K to 12.

Discover books for every reading level

Collage of books about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reading books about Dr. King can be a terrific springboard into a wider variety of Martin Luther King activities. With younger kids, work them into your story-time read-alouds. For older students, form a book club to read one selection together, or encourage every student to find a book that appeals to them and then share it with the class. Check out our favorite reads about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with options for every grade, from pre-K to 12.

Use free printable Martin Luther King Jr. worksheets with your class

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Worksheet Feature
We Are Teachers

We’ve created a set of reading materials and accompanying activities that’s perfect for elementary and middle school students. It includes a writing prompt and graphic organizer page too. Get your free Martin Luther King Jr. printables here.

Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park

If you can’t travel to Atlanta to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historical Park, check it out online instead! The virtual tour includes an in-depth look at several of the locations in the park, including the house where Dr. King was born.

Tour the National Civil Rights Museum

If you can get to Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum offers more perspective on Dr. King’s life and legacy. The museum also has a robust collection of free learning materials for students and teachers available online.

Color in a Martin Luther King Jr. quote

Coloring page with the quote "Life's most persistent and urgent questions is what are you doing for others?"
Doodle Art Alley

Put on an audiobook or video about Martin Luther King, then give students one of these cool free pages to color while they listen. They include a variety of different quotes, perfect for creating a bulletin board or hallway display.

Learn more: Martin Luther King Coloring Pages at Doodle Art Alley

Illustrate your own favorite Dr. King quote

Only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.
We Are Teachers

Share our collection of top Martin Luther King Jr. quotes with students, then have them choose one and create a poster or online graphic to share. See all the quotes here.

Paint a portrait

Simple portrait of Martin Luther King with inspirational words in the background
Deep Space Sparkle

Encourage kids to sketch their own portrait of the famous civil rights leader, or use the free and easy lesson found at the link below. If they’re not into portraiture, have them turn one of his quotes into their own art design instead.

Learn more: Martin Luther King Jr. Portrait Art Project at Deep Space Sparkle

Explore fascinating facts about Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the first Black person to be named Time’s “Man of the Year.”
We Are Teachers

Did you know that Dr. King’s was named “Michael” until he was five? Or that he graduated from college at age 19? Find even more amazing facts about this incredible man here.

Take a trivia quiz

Black and white photo of the March on Washington showing the crowds at the Mall in Washington DC. Text reads MLK Jr Trivia
Healthy Happy Impactful

Once you’ve learned some of those fascinating facts, take this 50-question trivia quiz to test your knowledge! Expand the learning by asking students to learn more details about each of the facts covered in the quiz.

Learn more: Martin Luther King Trivia Quiz at Healthy Happy Impactful

Crack an egg

White egg and brown egg cracked open to show the insides, alongside a worksheet exploring the concept
Lessons for Little Ones

Want to make a quick and simple point about embracing the ways in which humans are different and yet the same? Crack open a brown egg and a white egg to see they’re basically identical on the inside. There’s a lot more complexity to this concept, of course, but it’s an easy way to introduce it to young learners.

Learn more: Crack an Egg Activity at Lessons for Little Ones

Host a “Mix It Up at Lunch” Day

Learning for Justice has a great program called Mix It Up at Lunch Day that helps kids step out of their comfort zone and interact with people who are different from them. Add it to your own lineup of Martin Luther King Jr. activities.

Watch Dr. King deliver his most famous speech

One of Martin Luther King’s most impressive qualities was his skill as a public speaker. Every student should watch him deliver at least one speech, and there’s no better place to start than those incredible words “I Have a Dream.”

Write a DREAM acrostic poem

Acrostic poem using the word DREAM
Activities for Kids

What do your students dream the world of the future will be like? Invite them to write an acrostic poem using these free printables, with each line starting with a letter of the word DREAM.

Learn more: DREAM Acrostic at Activities for Kids

Read “Letter From Birmingham Jail”

Storyboard panels with quotes from Letter from Birmingham Jail
Storyboard That

If your students only know a few quotes from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, they’re really missing out. Be sure to check out his other speeches and writings, like “Letter From Birmingham Jail.” Storyboard That has lots of terrific Martin Luther King Jr. activities to help you explore and expand on this outstanding piece of persuasive writing.

Learn more: Letter from Birmingham Jail Activity at Storyboard That

Listen to a Freedom Rider

Booking photos of James Farmer, Jr., a Freedom Rider
Fresh Air on NPR

One of Dr. King’s greatest legacies was the number of people he inspired to join his cause. The Freedom Riders were a group who rode buses through the South in the 1960s to ensure the Supreme Court’s decision on desegregating buses was actually being carried out. Many were harassed, beaten, and even arrested. Listen to James Farmer Jr. tell the story of these key civil rights activities at the link.

Learn more: Freedom Rider Interview at Fresh Air on NPR

Mix up colors of crayons and paper

White, red, and black construction paper and crayons
Herding Kats in Kindergarten

So simple, and so effective. Give each student a piece of construction paper and a crayon that are both the same color and tell them to draw a picture. They’ll soon notice that they can’t accomplish much, and you can use this to spark a conversation about the need to embrace all colors together.

Learn more: Mixing Colors at Herding Kats in Kindergarten

Put together a Martin Luther King Jr. timeline

Yellow strip of paper with events from Martin Luther King's life on it, with crayons, scissors, and glue
Smitten With First

Help students identify major events from Dr. King’s life, then assemble them into a timeline. Younger students can use free printables like the ones at the link, while older students can do their own research to find events to include.

Learn more: Martin Luther King Jr. Timeline at Smitten With First

Create a Fakebook page for Dr. King

A fake Facebook page for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Use the free “Fakebook” generator at the link to create a page documenting Martin Luther King Jr.’s activities and life events. Don’t want to work online? Kids can create a version on paper instead.

Learn more: Fakebook at ClassTools.net

Celebrate beautiful skin tones

Two craft projects with fingerprints made in many different colors, representing each child in a class
Pencils to Pigtails

Let each child choose a color of paint, then use it to make fingerprints on a collective image. Talk about the multitude of skin tones in the world, and how celebrating diversity makes us stronger and more beautiful.

Learn more: Colorful Skin at Pencils to Pigtails

Join the National Day of Service

Dr. King said, “Everybody can be great because everybody can serve.” That concept inspired the National MLK Day of Service, held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day each year. Take your students out into the community to donate their time and efforts to a worthy cause. Find 50+ ideas for volunteering with kids here.

Imagine meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Worksheet titled If I Met MLK, with spaces to answer questions like "I would ask him" and "I would show him"
Teach Starter

Use the prompts on this printable (available for purchase at the link), or simply ask your students to write a journal entry or essay on what it might be like if they could meet Dr. King, in the past or in the present.

Learn more: If I Met MLK at Teach Starter

Decorate your classroom door

Black teacher standing by her classroom door decorated with a Black woman's head made of construction paper

When this high school classroom door made the rounds on social media, people were immediately in awe. “It is so much more than decor. This door has already sparked so many conversations with students I’ve never met or talked to before,” said its creator, teacher Mrs. Lewis. Have students brainstorm ways to decorate your own door to invite conversations around Dr. King, civil rights, social justice, or Black history. Check out these ideas for inspiration.

Walk in his footsteps

Foot prints taped to the floor with inspiring Martin Luther King Jr quote and kids' ideas for how they can change the world for the better
Teach Them to Fly II

“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase,” Dr. King explained. Lay out ways for kids to walk in his footsteps with this simple project. Trace students’ feet, then have them write the small steps they can take to make the world a better place. Tape them in place down a hallway, then invite others to stroll along for inspiration.

Learn more: Walk in His Footsteps Activity at Teach Them to Fly II

Take part in the Critical Media Project

Cartoon hand writing "I am not" on a black background (Martin Luther King Activities)
Critical Media Project

If Martin Luther King Jr. were alive today, what projects and campaigns might he be a part of? We think he’d love the Critical Media Project, which seeks to highlight and change the way minorities are often stereotyped, misrepresented, and under-represented in modern media. The project has lots of cool activities for kids to try, including making an “I am ____, but I am not” video about stereotypes.

Learn more: Critical Media Project

Discuss the difference between equality and equity

Two side-by-side images showing kids watching a ball game over a fence. In the first, each has a crate to stand on, but one child is still too short, and another is in a wheelchair so the crate is useless. In the second, one child stands on two stacked crates, and the child in a wheelchair has is using a ramp to reach the right height. They demonstrate equality vs equity.
Angus Maguire via Interaction Institute for Social Change

It turns out the campaign for equality was only the beginning. While equal rights for everyone is a vital concept, it only scratches the surface. To achieve true equity, we need to look deeper. This free lesson plan helps students master the difference between equality and equity, and consider how we as a society need to consider both to make a real difference.

Learn more: Equality and Equity Lesson at Cultures of Dignity

Hang inspirational banners

Martin Luther King. Jr. banners with writing prompts for kids
Playdough to Plato

This is one of those Martin Luther King Jr. activities that serves more than one purpose. First, it’s a good writing activity for students, as they reflect on Dr. King and his meaning in their own lives. Then, you can hang these banners in your classroom to commemorate the holiday!

Learn more: Inspirational Banners at Playdough to Plato

Make Martin Luther King Jr. silhouettes

Silhouettes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with significant words cut out from magazines
Cassie Dahl

These meaningful collages are easy to make, and students always enjoy a chance to cut and paste. Brainstorm a list of significant words related to Dr. King, then add them to silhouettes students trace and cut out.

Learn more: Martin Luther King Jr. Silhouettes at Cassie Dahl

Collaborate on a Martin Luther King Jr. poster

Collaborative art project showing Martin Luther King, with one section colored by each student
Art With Jenny K

You can do this project in a couple different ways. One option is to take a large image and break it apart into individual squares that each student can color in their own way. Or you can start with a blank canvas and simply allow each student to contribute their own design, like a quilt of sorts.

Learn more: Collaborative Poster Project at Art With Jenny K

Write about the content of your character

Paper Martin Luther King holding a page with a writing prompts about the content of character
Life Between Summers

Dr. King wanted his own children to be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. What about your own students? What would people think of them based on the content of their character? Use these writing prompts to find out.

Learn more: Character Writing Prompts at Life Between Summers

Practice cursive writing with Dr. King quotes

Three printable worksheets with traceable quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King in cursive handwriting
3 Boys and a Dog

Make handwriting practice more meaningful by using inspirational words from Dr. King. Increase the learning by asking kids to write more lines about what those words mean to them.

Learn more: Cursive Dr. King Quotes at 3 Boys and a Dog

What are your favorite Martin Luther King activities to celebrate his incredible legacy? Come share your ideas in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.

Plus, check out our Martin Luther King Jr. for Kids resource page with Google Slides and even more classroom resources and activities.

Help your students understand the life and legacy of this courageous leader with these thought-provoking Martin Luther King Jr. activities.