January 15, 2010

Martin Luther King Jr. Activities

Yesterday we started our study of Martin Luther King Jr.. We generally don't study things just because they get a Monday off work for dad, but rather wait until they come up in our spiraling history lessons. But we also generally school on these days and send dad off to work anyway. This MLK day is different, though. Our dear friends, the Taylors, are coming for a visit over the long weekend and s it seemed appropriate to consider why it is we are getting this wonderful time to spend with friends. So, we skipped ahead in time by a significant leap and dove into the amazing Dr. King.

We started by watching the famous, "I have a dream" speech on youtube and pausing periodically to discuss things like the definition of a promissory note and insufficient funds. Then we watched a later speech, and then a clip of his funeral.

We found a cool printable coloring book at teacher vision to use for Hannah Jane's art and reading. At the bottom of each page there were short sentences about D. King's dreams and after she read them to me, she could color the page. This coloring book also had neat flaps to staple on to make it a sort of lift the flap book. Pretty cool!

After she finished the coloring book, we cut out four clouds and Hannah Jane wrote her dreams for the future. She had a little trouble getting sated on this one. First she said, "I hope that my kids are easy on me." I told her that that didn't constitute a dream for the world's future and we should think a little more broadly. I also thought, gosh! She must have been listening to Steffanie and me talking about the natural temperaments that kids are born with while we were making hair bows together yesterday!

Next she said, "I hope there are no people to yell." This was a great opportunity to talk about language precision- especially since we just read the Giver. In that book there is a lot of focus on using "precise language." What I told her was, "I think you mean that you hope for a wold where people do not yell." She disagreed and restated the same sentence. I told her, "When you say it that way, it mans there will be no people on the earth, and therefore will be no yelling. Is that what you are meaning, or do you mean that you hope that in the future the people on earth will not feel the need to yell?" She realized the difference, filled in her cloud appropriately and moved on to add a cloud for world unity, no pollution, and no more economic crisis. I kid you not. She came up with the phrase, "no economic crisis" on her own. We may need to cur the NPR for a bit!

Today, we picked up our studies with a Montessori inspired art activity. I printed out a picture of Dr. King with simple lines and folded a piece of tracing paper over the top. She traced the lines carefully, then removed the picture from underneath and made her own adjustments, and finally colored it. Maria Montessori believed this sort of activity to help the child get a feel for the way elements in a picture come together and the way lines can be combined for form an image.

She cutout the image that she crated and glued it to the front of a file folder and we combined all of her work from the past two days into a lapbook. She loves anything that she can turn into a lapbook!

As she flipped through her lapbook, she asked, "Why, in the video of the speech, were there white men there too?" Awesome! I love questions like these. We talked about how, throughout history, there have been people who were not of the oppressed population who still recognized the horrors of what was taking place and were brave enough to stand up for justice. She asked if other white people got mad at them and we talked about how they had so much to lose, like jobs and status, but did it anyway because it was right.

Next she asked why Daddy's work calls it Human Rights Day instead of Martin Luther King JR Day. That question I did not like and promised to tell her when she was a little older and more tactful. Shockingly, she accepted that and moved on.

All in all, I thought this was a great learning experience that didn't just teach about a specific man, but called attention to a variety of injustices and the importance of being brave enough to demand what it right even when it ain't popular. Excellent!

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