It's a sad truth that MLK Day activities for the kids usually amount to nothing more than a few coloring pages and maybe reading a book or two. But what do you want? If they're under 5, you can't exactly get them to sit in front of the computer long enough to sit through a YouTube video of The March on Washington.
Although they might like singing along to "We Shall Overcome," they just don't get it. The frank discussions on racism may have to be tempered, but the importance of the day doesn't have to pass them by. Try these Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities on for size:
Make a Dream List:
Put Dr. King's speech into a context they will understand -- remind them what it's like to want something and not be able to get it. Simplify it, but don't fake it. This doesn't have to be about toys and candy; you can talk about the mean kid at pre-school who they can wish would be kinder or the way one of your cats seems to dominate the other when they fight.
Then ask them to tell you their dreams. You may be surprised with the prescient answers from the pre-school set.
Hit a Parade:
Dr. King's message was chiefly about coming together as Americans, and what better way to show your kids that that can be done than out in your own community? Try to show up early to show your kids the parade line-up and explain to them that someone is actually organizing the event. It's a concrete example of how individual people make a difference in a community.
Create Your Own Peace March:
Stuck home with several toddlers or still trying to find an activity for the whole playgroup? Talk to the kids about peace as it applies to them -- no throwing sand on the playground, no pulling your sister's hair, no biting, etc. Then open it up to the floor. Write each of their thoughts down on individual pieces of paper. Hand them their new "signs" and let them march around the room on their own Peace March. If it's warm enough (and your town is friendly enough), you can even try "marching" down the sidewalks.
What will you being doing with the young kids to honor Dr. King?
Image via BlatantNews.com/Flickr