Resources for Teaching Your Kids About Martin Luther King Jr. Day

January 20, 2020, is Martin Luther King Day and marks the 25th anniversary celebrating the civil rights leader’s life and legacy. 

It’s important to note that contrary to what most people consider it, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, annually observed on the third Monday in January, is “a day on, not a day off.” It’s the only federal holiday designated as “a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities.”

In preparation for such a significant day, it’s important to help students put in perspective the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., his impact on the civil rights movement, and on American culture and history. This list of resources can reinforce what your children will be learning about at school and be a stepping stone to important conversations and teachable moments.

King Crossword – A fun printable crossword for elementary students that includes an interactive version and an answer key.

The PBS LearningMedia site provides 13 activities for students K-12 including videos, interactive games, photos, and historic documents explaining his legacy and influence on America. 

EDSITEment, a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Trust for the Humanities, has numerous activities, lessons, and webpages detailing not only Dr. King’s work but significant civil rights events like the March on Selma and the Emmet Till case.

The NY Times archive of articles on the Civil Rights movement is extensive and an opportunity to not only learn about Dr. King’s work but how he and the events surrounding civil rights were covered by the mainstream press. 

The King Center, King Institute, MLK Online each offer resources about Dr. King and include interviews and first-hand accounts of his work, his message, and the ongoing legacy work being done in his honor. 



The History Channel provides a collection of 49 short videos on Dr. King and his career.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.


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