Martin's Big Words Activity

Happy Saturday!

Any fun plans for the three day weekend? I'm doing MCAS-Alt work (our state's standardized comprehensive assessment alternative - in portfolio format) for one of my students, going to wedding expos (yes, more than one!), and watching me some football with the fiancé. Oh yes, and studying. I am back in school now, for my FINAL semester of Graduate School!!! w00t.

As we all know, MLK Day is on Monday, and while we enjoy having a three-day weekend, it is important to commemorate such an inspirational historical figure. I make sure every year to celebrate Dr. King's life with my students, usually starting out reading Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport.  I use this opportunity to discuss issues of inequality, prejudice, and racism. It is a heated debate, but I think children deserve to know the truths of our history. It does them no service to shelter them for the realities of life. This is one of my favorite read alouds of the year, as it allows for really meaty and philosophical discussions.

 During our discussion of the book and the activity, we discuss the illustrator, Bryan Collier's technique and what the images make us think of. We discuss how the pictures make us feel and compare them to other techniques illustrators use. We discuss why the artist may choose mixed media collages instead of paintings or sketching. After our read aloud and discussion, we create our own images of MLK using the illustrator's technique of mixed media collaging.
I provide the students with different scraps of paper, ranging from tracing paper, construction paper, scrapping book paper, to paper with heavier textures. I use an image I created as an example for the students.

After creating the collage, students are provided with a quotation from the book. You could allow the students to choose their own quotations, but I find it easier for my students to have a quotation chosen for them, as I see fit based on their abilities. One variation I have done in years past has been to have students write what the quotation means to them. This year, I nixed that extension to focus more on what the quotation means explicitly, based on my students needs this year.

This is always a fun activity and incredibly meaningful discussion topic. I have found that as Black History Month rolls around, my students are eager to have more of these discussions on inequality and segregation, and are itching for opportunities to debate these topics and fight for equality!

What MLK Day activities do you do in your classroom?

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  1. Love, Love, LOVE that collage activity! :) So glad that you found my blog! :) This weekend I'm working on finishing up adjusting an Underground Railroad Unit for's coming together, albeit slowly. :/ I am now following you as well, and am looking forward to hearing more about your adventures! :)
    Mrs. Russell's Room-First Grade

  2. Hey! Thanks for stopping by my blog! :) I LOVE your owls. They are so darn cute. I can't wait to read this book with my little loves. We were supposed to do it on Friday but had a snow day (I guess I should say a "dusting" day- NC shuts down with even the slightest threat of snow). And of course have Monday off, AND tuesday for a teacher workday. Busy Busy. I love the activity you do with your kiddos, I might try it :)

    Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!!


  3. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Your is wonderful! I'm looking forward to following it!

    Heather at TeachItToday


Thanks for the comments! I look forward to reading them :)

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