Mentor Monday: Celebrating MLK Jr. Day


Welcome to a new year with Mentor Monday! If you are new to this weekly post, I choose a topic to share picture books ideas you may want to use. There’s usually a few fun ideas thrown in there, too.

Today, we’re talking about activities for honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I absolutely love the book Martin’s Big Words to read to my students. His “I Have A Dream Speech is interwoven throughout the text so you children really sense the power behind his message. I highly recommend picking up that one, but here’s a collage with some other books you may enjoy

Last year, I shared a super fun poetry idea with all of you to use any time of the school year, but I’ll demonstrate it with a poem about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (See poem below.) This can be done with any grade, first and up. You’re going to create a GIANT POEM. This is a great way to build in fluency practice with choral reading, analyzing poetic structure, and best of all, it’s a chance to build collaboration among your students. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • sentence strips
  • pencils
  • markers or crayons
  • a photocopy of a poem for each student. My class kept a Poetry Anthology throughout the year so I had them glue in a copy of the poem.

How do you build a GIANT poem you ask? Here’s how:

  1. First, take time to read and discuss the poem with your class. Talk about language, structure, messages, imagery, and any emotions that come from reading the poem.
  2. Literally, break the poem apart into the number of students you have. If you have 25 students, break the poem into 25 small parts. Sometime you may have to break one line of poetry apart to make two parts. The title can count as one of the parts if needed.
  3. Assign each child a part of the poem to write in large lettering on a sentence strip. Tip: As I assign parts to students, I always record names next to a whole class copy of the poem. Someone always forgets their lines. This alleviates that problem!
  4. Ask your students to write their part of the poem in pencil first, then trace over it in a bright color with crayon or marker.
  5. When they finish, they will lay the part of the poem they wrote on a sentence strip down on a large open space (I used my rug area.)
  6. Arrange the parts correctly into the original poem with your class and reread it.
  7. Cut and trim the sentence strips and tape them together to make your GIANT poem.
  8. Display it on a bulletin board or in the hallway. Trust me, it looks very impressive when it’s finished. Plus, you’re students will not be able to resist stopping and reading it whenever they notice it. I displayed my class GIANT poem on the way into the cafeteria so hundreds of kids would read it, not just my own.

So why not try this out today? I especially love doing this in September as a way to build unity within a classroom. And isn’t that what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would’ve wanted? Enjoy!

On Martin Luther King Day
Treat people kindly.
Do what is fair.
Work for all people
Show that you care.
Change what is wrong,
But please do not fight.
Think of new ways
To change wrong to right.
These are the ways,
If we work as a team.
To remember the man,
Who said, “I have a dream.”
  By: Sharon Siegelman
 You may be interested in this resource from my store.
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog today.
See you back here next week for another Mentor Monday!
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  1. Thank you for your wonderful comments Melissa! I was so excited to hear that you'd try it out with your firsties! Send me a pic! :))
    Emily, TRT/OG

  2. Great and very interesting idea! I also believe that poems are a great way to improve one’s reading, literacy, and comprehension skills. I’m on the process of making a selection from the many Vancouver tutors offering private, in-home English classes, and I want to make sure that he/she makes use of interesting and enjoyable teaching methods. I’ll definitely ask the tutor I will decide to hire what kind of activities he/she will use for the best results.

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