Keeping Kids Busy on Martin Luther King Jr. Day: 5 Ideas to Teach & Entertain

With children out of school for national holidays, it’s often difficult to find something to entertain them. When those holidays come around take advantage of the topic of the day and center activities and outings around that holiday. This year, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is January 21st and following are a few ideas to keep children busy–and parents sane–for the entire day.   [image via flickr]

  1. Learn about Dr. King’s life and legacy. Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta on January 15, 1929. That’s why the national holiday is celebrated the third Monday in January every year. If you are staying home an Internet search will reveal a variety of sites for printing activities and coloring sheets as well as game and project ideas. For an MLK outing visit your city’s local monument or museum. Atlanta is home to The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change. If you are in Washington, D.C., visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial; Memphis, Tennessee has the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was assassinated; and this year in Kings Mountain, Cleveland County, North Carolina, there will be a Photography Contest & Exhibit.
  2. Incorporate games and activities in honor of MLK. offers this idea: Have a birthday party for Dr. King and make a paper chain using black, white, red, yellow, and brown paper to represent skin colors. Then explain to children each color symbolizes people of all races holding hands when he marched for freedom.
  3. Read books about MLK. Visit the local library to explore children and adult books about Dr. King or purchase books from an online or brick and mortar store. Children’s books are a great way to impart historical knowledge at their level. Consider A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler, My Brother Martin: A Sister Remembers Growing Up With the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Christine King Farris and Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther Jr. by Doreen Rappaport and Bryan Collier.
  4. Listen to music from Dr. King’s time. Listening to music from the 1950s and ‘60s will give children an idea of the thoughts and rhythm of a time when civil unrest and racial tensions were high.
  5. Volunteer in your community. Dr. King believed in increasing economic opportunities through local community service and volunteer activities. In most cities, during MLK Day, communities host events such as parades or fairs as well as community service projects like collecting clothes for the homeless or feeding veterans a special meal. Children, along with their families, can volunteer during these activities, which will help them understand the true meaning of community and giving back.

Other ideas, activities and information can be found at, or Making activities and outings a family affair is good for everyone involved.