Celebrating and teaching the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. on MLK Day and beyond is so important. This year, there may not be as many in-person events, but there are still plenty of ways to educate kids about the leadership and service of Martin Luther King Jr. and his bountiful contributions to society. From a Minecraft March to a songwriting workshop, read on for 6 ways to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inspire a new generation of activists to make the world a more just and fair place for all.
Minecraft March on Washington: Virtual Exploration (MLK Day)
Minecraft to the rescue! Educate your little gamer about Martin Luther King Jr. and other current activists who are continuing his legacy today through a platform they know and love. On MLK Day, over 1,000 online visitors will be able to experience and interact with the historic 1963 March on Washington through the world of Minecraft. Built by skilled volunteers, guests to Minecraft D.C. will be inspired by walking through historic landscape, meeting the present voices, and adding to this world and ours, by building within the game. Learn more on how to participate at LA Works.
Understanding Anti-Racism with PBS SoCal
It's never too early to start talking to your child about diversity and inclusivity. In 2020, the term anti-racism popped up everywhere. In order to fully educate children, they need to understand what anti-racism is, and what it means to be anti-racist. Martin Luther King Jr. used his voice to fight for others. Watch this video from PBS SoCal to help empower your little one to do the same or this one to dive into protests today compared to those during Martin Luther King Jr.'s time. For more educational resources from PBS SoCal that you can access at home click here.
Creating a More Humane World: MLK Day Critter Camp
Kids can learn so much through interacting with animals. Most importantly, they discover that all living beings deserve compassion and understanding––a lesson Martin Luther King Jr. fought every day to teach. This year, in honor of MLK Day, Critter Camp at Helen Woodward Animal Center is focused on creating a more humane world. Campers will interact with a goat, Madagascar hissing cockroach, chicken, snake and guinea pig while learning how to be compassionate to all animals. Learn more details about the camp here.
Songwriting 101: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
This songwriting event is recommended for ages 7+ and is such a fun way to educate your child about Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement through music. In this introductory workshop, join a museum educator on Zoom to write a song as a group. Music professional Adam Ollendorff will teach the fundamentals of songwriting, including form, theme and rhyme scheme. Via chat, participants will share ideas and write an original song. Ollendorff has toured as a member of Kacey Musgraves’s band, and his songs have been recorded by Will Hoge and Keb’ Mo’. Guardian is required to be present for kids under age thirteen. Takes place via Zoom. Space is limited. Registration required and the event is free. Registration closes at 9 a.m. the morning of the program. Find out details about the event here.
Attend the MLK Jr. Day Parade in D.C. Virtually
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously proclaimed, “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do… you have to keep moving forward.” This year, you and your family can follow along virtually with the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Walk Parade that normally takes place in Washington D.C. in person. Find out more about joining the online event here.
Create Your Own Day of Service
The holiday on January, 18, 2021, marks the 26th anniversary of the day of service that celebrates the Civil Rights leader’s life and legacy. Observed each year on the third Monday in January as “a day on, not a day off,” MLK Day is the only federal holiday designated as a national day of service to encourage all Americans to volunteer to improve their communities. Americorps has been leading the charge for the last quarter century. Take time to visit their website with your child and learn more about how you can create your own event and encourage kids in your community to volunteer and be of service––because serving others has a profound positive benefit on those who volunteer. Need extra encouragement to kick off your day of service? Kids who volunteer are three times more likely to volunteer as adults, and steady volunteering (even one hour a week) reduces negative behaviors in kids.
––Aimee Della Bitta
featured image: Library of Congress via Wikimedia Commons