Martin Luther King Jr. Day honors a great man with some revolutionary ideas. Kids may simply understand the day as a reason for being off of school, but it's easy to bring King's messages of nonviolence, hope, and service to any age level. Read on for 6 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., Day by commemorating his life works including volunteering, going vegetarian, and writing your family's own "I have a dream" speech -- and each idea is accompanied by an inspirational quote from the revered leader as well.
“Everybody can be great. Because anybody can serve.”
King worked tirelessly for a number of causes including civil rights and poverty issues. Make Martin Luther King Jr. Day (or any other day) a day of service in his honor. Pick an activity your children will enjoy to ensure their enthusiasm and involvement. For example, if your tots want to spend every minute playing outside, pick a park or playground and clean up any trash or recycling on the grounds or plant flowers at your children’s school. Kids can also participate in more formal, organized volunteer efforts. Check out this site for opportunities across the country.
2.Check out library books.
“Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”
Martin Luther King Jr. was obviously a fan of learning: in addition to earning a phD, he was extremely well-read from an early age. Throughout his life, King cited the influence of what he had read: Gandhi and Thoreau were just two of his inspiring and guiding forces. Inspire your own tots with some age-appropriate, King-themed books from the library. For younger ones, there are dozens of books about everything from King’s childhood to the Civil Rights movement . Older kids can read some of King’s own works.
3. Go vegetarian or vegan.
“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”
While King himself was not a veg-head, his wife Coretta Scott King was vegan for the last ten years of her life and their son Dexter Scott King, a vegan and animal rights activist, believes that King likely would have given veganism a try had he lived long enough. Vegetarianism is also a natural extension of King’s tenets of nonviolence. So serve up some collard greens, sweet potatoes, and pecan pie (some of King’s favorite foods and all veg-friendly!) to honor the man.
4. Choose a family charity and make a donation.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
King, the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize at 35 years old, donated his prize money to serve the civil rights movement. Often, charitable donations are looked at as an adult, financial matter and are done without our children’s knowledge. Make giving a family affair by choosing a charity with your kids and making a donation. It doesn’t have to be significant: a few dollars can seem like a huge amount at a young age. So clean out the change in your wallets and under the couch cushions and plant the seeds for a lifetime of giving. Your little ones can even make their own donation jar and decorate it.
5. Learn about local environmental issues and discuss with your children.
“The time is always right to do the right thing.”
King was actually assassinated while fighting for the rights of sanitation workers, and he has been called by some “the father of the environmental justice movement.” To honor the groundwork King laid, cut out clippings from the newspaper about local environmental issues and share them with your children. Take a walk around the city, town, or neighborhood you live in and point out relevant examples of environmental changes or problems. For example, if the town river is polluted, discuss any efforts being made to clean it and see if your kids have any ideas for improving the situation. Seeing how the world has changed on a smaller, more local scale could have a big impact on them.
6. Write an “I have a dream” speech with your child.
“No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”
Read King’s amazing, impacting speech with your little ones, then tap into your children’s hopeful and not-yet-jaded world view by having them write (or dictate) their own “I have a dream” speech. Make the project multi-media by having them illustrate their dreams and ideas. Once the day is over, store their masterpieces until next year when you all can see how their hopes and aspirations have changed.
Lead image via historicalstockphotos.com