It can be a little intimidating to try to explain the numerous reasons behind celebrating Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday to three year olds. There is no denying the dark and horrifying treatment of minorities throughout America’s history. Martin Luther King Jr role in the civil rights movement was integral in propelling positive social change. Yet, the significance of his guidance is hard to grasp without understanding the harsh reality of minorities. How does one even begin to appropriately approach this with young children?
One possible way is to simply promote the man himself as a progressive leader who captivated and changed America. However, this contradicts his very character and desire. In his last speech before the assassination, he ominously and humbly stated he did not want to be remembered for his numerous and impressive accolades. He simply wanted to “leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cure somebody with a love song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”
Fortunately, January’s Mother Goose Time included a complete Celebration of Peace kit that was nothing short of amazing! Not only did it introduce Martin Luther King Jr, it had a multitude of relevant activities to introduce what he worked so diligently to accomplish.
We were able to participate in our local Martin Luther King Jr Day Parade, so the children were already enthusiastic about the topic.
We opened lessons with a simple song about peace and kindness. This led to a discussion on “peace.” My son mistakenly defined “piece” as ‘parts of paper that you cut.’ I explained it meant getting along, not fighting, and not being mean. When asked how they could spread peace, kindness, or show acceptance, they gave appropriate responses like ‘share toys’ and ‘play nicely.’ I encouraged them to think of intentional acts of kindness and we brainstormed some family activities to spread love in our community.
Over cups of hot chocolate, we read a brief synopses on Martin Luther King Jr provided by Mother Goose Time. I was thankful for the succinct script because I completely forgot to check out any books from the library about him!
Both children enjoyed the Symbols of Peace Matching Game, which provided a great opportunity to the concept of symbols.
I was beyond excited by the Peaceful Poses activity. Coincidently, I started yoga at the beginning of the year and love that my kids can also benefit. Both a poster of poses and spinner intrigued the children. We took turns spinning the spinner and holding poses while we counted to 10. My daughter seems to truly enjoy yoga and I anticipate repeating this activity over and over again.
Color Mixing was by far the most captivating activity of the day. Each child was given a paper towel to decorate with washable markers. Next, little fingers experimented with transferring water to the towels–dripping, shaking, and of course pouring. The spreading and blending of the colors mesmerized them. Their focus was so intense, I refrained from discussion and just let them absorb the lesson.
My son refused to end “lesson time” until he had finished one page out of his Mother Goose Time More Literacy workbook.
As with most of the additional kits, we spent too much time on each of the activities and failed to finish everything. I am bummed we did not get to the activity Year of Peace Calendar. A 2016 calendar was provided for both kids with a place to put a handprint from the beginning and then again at the completion of the year. I waited until the end so they could play with the paint afterwards but we spent too much time on the previous activities. We will definitely incorporate this into one of the daily lessons this week!
A second suggested activity was using colored cereal (think Fruit Loops) to estimate quantity and discuss colors of skin tone. Despite common misperception, children are not color blind. It is important to acknowledge people come in all different colors, just like the cereal. Mother Goose Time’s talking point goes on to say “one color isn’t better than the other and they are all important. Martin Luther King Jr had a dream that children would be judged for the content of their character and not the color of their skin.” I rarely buy cereal but will make an exception for the simplicity yet effectiveness of this lesson. I was going to use different color apples but opted against since apple types can have a distinctive taste.
I know I say this repeatedly but I am truly thankful for Mother Goose Time’s impeccable lessons. They are truly making a difference in our children’s lives!