Instant Lessons and Free Resources for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Written by Behrman House Staff, 06 of January, 2017
Students as Ambassadors for Inclusion

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

We observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day on January 16, which offers a wonderful opportunity for teaching about social justice, tolerance, acceptance, racism, current events, and Jewish values, for students of all ages.

(If you're looking for a more child-friendly way of explaining the holiday to young learners, Kid President does a pretty good job.)

How can you relate the celebration of Dr. King with Judaism? We’ve rounded up some lesson plans and worksheets that will prompt discussion and lead your students to a better understanding of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

A Kid's Mensch Handbook
Grades 3-4

Martin Luther King Jr. saw where the world was broken and tried to make it whole again. He saw the injustice and inequality in the world and made it his mission to create an unprejudiced world.

Judaism celebrates this in a concept known as Tikkun Olam, the process by which we strive to repair the world. This concept is defined and outlined in A Kid's Mensch Handbook and offers students a chance to think about their own world and where it needs fixing. Your students each have their own unique talent — how can they share that talent to make the world a little better and brighter?

A Kid's Mensch Handbook opens up that discussion by asking young learners those very questions.

Jewish Values in Genesis: If I Could Ask Abraham
Grades 4-6

In order to fight back against racism and injustice in the world, Martin Luther King Jr. had to find his ometz leiv, or courage. In Jewish Values in Genesis, a journal-style text, learners have the chance to look at Noah's actions as well as their own bravery.

Jewish Values in Exodus: If I Could Ask Miriam
Grades 4-6

Martin Luther King Jr. lived in a world that was unjust and that treated people of color without respect or diignity. In Jewish Values in Exodus, students are asked to dig deep and reflect on their experience with the justice system. 

This sample PDF also offers an opportunity for young learners to listen to the famous gospel song "Go Down Moses" and make a connection between the struggle of Moses and the fight for freedom among black citizens in America.

Today's Hot Topics

For older learners, Today's Hot Topics not only provides a fully-prepared lesson plan titled Racism: Police and the Community but it also provides connections to Jewish texts and real-life examples of debateable police activity. Today's Hot Topics doesn't instruct students on which way they are supposed to think but instead gives them the resources to hear both sides of the argument and come to their own conclusion.

Click the image below for a free 6-page lesson on the relationship between racism and the police presence in the community.