Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activity for the Whole School

We are in the middle of finishing a Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activity for the whole school. My elementary school is creating a collaborative display in honor of MLK Jr. that involves kindergarten through eighth grade. At the beginning of the week, my sixth grade class made a presentation about Martin Luther King Day during our school assembly. We included some general information about Mr. King. Then we asked the students if they knew the way Ronald Reagan and MLK are connected. We shared the fact that Ronald Reagan was the president who signed the bill creating the federal holiday we have today. That connection between the 40th president and Martin Luther King Jr. kicked off our schoolwide activity.

Martin Luther King Day Activity

If you need a MLK Jr activity that works for elementary and middle grade students, give each class a topic that relates in some way to King. The goal is to have each class create a path from their topic back to MLK. Students need to read various articles or books to find the connection. The groups discuss any gathered information and identify the ties between the man and the topic. The information is written on cards that are pinned on a display board. Position the display in a common area at the school. Our display board is almost finished, and my school is so excited about all the connections we can see between a wide variety of people and places. It clearly illustrates ways Martin Luther King impacted others.

Steps to Organize the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Activity

  • Create a list of topics. The list should include very basic topics like Atlanta, Georgia (MLK’s birthplace) to more difficult topic like Elvis Presley (he recorded a song in memory of MLK). For a sample list, CLICK HERE.
  • Gather articles and books that will help with information for each topic. I wrote THIS GENERAL BIOGRAPHY that provides ideas for several of the simpler topics. For the more advanced topics, complete Google searches with the keywords, “MLK” and the topic name. When you find an article, print a copy. My school library also had a good section of picture books and biographies for younger readers. Below is a list of a few we used.
    • Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport
    • A Place to Land by Barry Wittenstein
    • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler
    • National Geographic Readers Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kitson Jazynka
    • I Have a Dream paintings by Kadir Nelson
  • Assemble materials in a manila envelope. In each envelope, place 5-6 notecards, a long piece of yarn, a small handful of thumbtacks, the topic list, and a printed article and/or picture book. Each classroom teacher received an envelope with an article/book that fit the topic they were assigned.

Martin Luther King Day Activity

  • Kick off the activity at an assembly if you can. Give general information about MLK Day and share some sample topic connections. We shared the path between Ronald Reagan and King first. Then we showed a second connection between Michael King Jr. and Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Back in the classrooms, teachers and students worked together to learn about their assigned topic. Once they recognized the connection, the class created one set of notecards that showed the tie between the topic and Mr. King. The notecards are pinned to the group bulletin board, so everyone can see all the ways King’s ideas influence others, or in some cases, ways people influenced King.

Martin Luther King Day Activity

If you are looking for more ideas to help honor Martin Luther King, visit my TeachersPayTeachers store HERE and download a winter paint chip poetry activity for free.

Holiday Gift Tags

My students will be debuting holiday gift tags this year at our annual December market. They work throughout the Fall choosing a business name, designing a logo, and staying after school at workshops to produce a handful of holiday gift items. We have some favorite items like SIMMERING SPICES and LAYERED COOKIE MIXES that our repeat customers expect, but we also try to mix in new products each year too. This year, the new product is handmade paper gift tags.

DIY holiday gift tags

To make the holiday gift tags, we used white paper marking tags with a reinforced hole. I was able to buy a box of 500 at Staples. However, there are many options for gift tags. I found packs of twelve at Michael’s Crafts in different paper options, and I know there are large and small sizes. Once you have the tags, you can add a variety of embellishments. We used fine black pens and rulers, rubber stamps, buttons, washi tape, fancy hole punches, and a little creativity.

DIY holiday gift tags

Holiday Gift Tag Materials

  • 4 3/4″ x 2 3/8″ white marking tags with reinforced holes (any paper gift tag would work– you could even cut your own)
  • fine tip black pen
  • ruler
  • Elmer’s glue
  • buttons
  • washi tape or ribbon
  • rubber stamps
  • ink pads
  • fun shaped hole punches
  • any other embellishments– sequins, mini flowers, round gems…

DIY holiday gift tags

 

Holiday Gift Tag Ideas

  • Ornaments– With the ruler and black pen, make 3 parallel lines. Near the end of the drawn line, draw a bow by making a flower petal shape on each side of the lines. At the end of each black line, glue a button. Stamp a holiday message if you would like.
  • Snowman– Draw a short, wavy line near the bottom edge of the gift tag. Place two buttons, one on top of the other, on the wavy line to act as place holders. Draw two stick arms and a simple top hat (rectangle with line). Glue the buttons to the card in the appropriate spots to fit the arms and hat. Stamp a holiday message in the white space if you would like.
  • Decorative Strips– Using washi tape or ribbon and glue, place 2-3 strips along an edge of the tag. Stamp a holiday message or glue additional sequins, buttons, or small flowers in a decorative way.
  • Punched Shapes– Punch out fun shapes and glue small shapes to the gift tag. Another option is to make a band of washi tape and hole punch shapes in the washi taped section of the card. Remove the shapes from the puncher and glue them randomly around the card. Stamp a holiday message to finish.

DIY holiday gift tags

We are putting an assortment of 5 gift tags in bags to sell at our holiday market. They make a sweet little gift for a neighbor or co-worker or even a hostess gift at Christmas. They are also fun to attach to your own presents that you will be wrapping this holiday season!

DIY holiday gift tags

Cute Thanksgiving Turkey Craft

I pulled out my cute Thanksgiving turkey napkin rings with the toilet paper roll base this week. My children made this cute Thanksgiving turkey craft when they were in kindergarten. My son graduates from high school this year! I like to use the napkin rings at our meals during the whole month of November. We don’t just save the napkin rings for Thanksgiving day.

Turkey napkin ring craft for Thanksgiving

The year my son built his toilet paper turkey, we made napkin ring sets for all of the grandparents and extended family. We brought them with us to our family Thanksgiving meal. My in-laws still have their napkin rings too.

If you make these Thanksgiving turkey crafts with your preschool or kindergarten class, use them during a school snack celebration then send them home. If you are building these with a whole class, you may want to pre-make certain steps. You will need two days to let paint and glue dry. Or, you could do some work at the beginning of the day and finish construction towards the end of the day.

Turkey napkin ring craft for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Turkey Materials

  • toilet paper or paper towel rolls cut into 2 inch wide rings.
  • brown and yellow tempera paint
  • brown pipe cleaners (for the feet, optional)
  • red felt
  • assorted colored feathers (we used red, yellow, and orange)
  • googly eyes, 3 mm
  • wood craft spoons ~3/5 inches in height (I used THESE)
  • Elmer’s glue or hot glue gun

Thanksgiving Turkey Directions

  1. Paint the wooden craft spoons yellow. Let dry.
  2. Paint the toilet paper roll rings brown. Let dry. (Steps 1 and 2 can be prepped ahead of time if you do not want the mess and clean-up of lots of tempera paint.)
  3. Cut the red felt into a tear drop shape about 1-inch tall.
  4. After the paint dries, glue the red felt tear drop shaped piece onto the middle of the spoon end of the wooden stick. Glue two googly eyes above the red waddle. Let dry flat.
  5. Glue the yellow wooden stick turkey face to the side of the painted toilet paper roll piece. You may need to hold the craft spoon in place for a few minutes, so the face does not slide to the side. ** Note: Hot glue might be a better option here since the Elmer’s glue takes longer to dry and hold.
  6. If you are adding the pipe cleaner feet, you will need an adult to poke two holes at the base of the wooden spoon. Thread the pipe cleaner through the two holes, so a loop runs around the inside of the toilet paper roll. Fold and bend each pipe cleaner end into feet shape with 3 toes. Cut any excess length of pipe cleaner off.
  7. Glue 3 feathers onto the back of the toilet paper roll and arrange, so the feathers are fanned out.
  8. Roll a napkin and slid into the napkin ring and set at each place setting for your Thanksgiving feast!
Turkey napkin ring craft for Thanksgiving

Our toilet paper roll turkeys have been sitting at our Thanksgiving dinner table for about 15 years! These napkin rings are a cherished memento from when my children were little. Even though you need adult help for the gluing steps, it is such a cute Thanksgiving project. The final turkeys have distinct personalities and add fun to your holiday table.

Since Christmas is right around the corner, you might like some other holiday craft ideas. Another easy holiday craft for younger students is bags of REINDEER FOOD. We made these HOLIDAY SNOW GLOBE TOPPERS in 4th grade.

Mason Jar Cookie Mixes

M&M Mason Jar Cookie Mix

My fourth grade students sold Mason jar cookie mixes as a class fundraiser. It is a great project for integrating skills from a bunch of different academic areas. It is also a great project for creating a lot of extra work for the teacher. My teammate and I are exhausted and are not feeling nearly as charitable as we were at the beginning of this business project. However, it is a project that works well for groups of children. If you need a service project for Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or your classroom, this might be something to consider. Like the soup mixes I am giving as teacher gifts, these are also something you can make at home with your kids to give to teachers, neighbors and friends over the holidays.

mason jar cookie mixes

The students kicked off the project by voting on a variety of recipes (oatmeal was out but after testing cookie samples, they approved the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe). Once we selected two recipes, we priced ingredients and estimated sales. We limited production to ~200 jars, and the students calculated the ingredient amounts for that number of mixes. I recommend limiting sales to a specific number you think is possible for your group, so you do not over commit.

cookie assembly line

The adults have to gather many supplies, and quality control needs to be monitored closely. Most of the stations need funnels, which we made by loosely rolling a piece of copy paper. The baking soda station needs a dedicated adult! With 34 students on 5 assembly lines, we had all of the mixes assembled in about 1 1/2 hours. We spent another half day tying labels and delivering.

mason jar cookie mix labels

If you can buy the ingredients in bulk, it costs between $4 and $5 to make one jar of cookie mix, and we sold our mixes for $8.50. The biggest cost is the chocolate chips and M&Ms. One warning– during the holidays, Mason jars are hard to find. We needed 17 dozen 1-quart jars. If you are buying jars in the Charleston area, stores are sold out (so I have heard). If we decide to repeat this project next year, we will be purchasing our jars in August! Click here for the M&M White Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe, and click here for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix Recipe.

200 mason jar cookie mixes

Spooky Votives

We have 45 minutes for scary snacks and spooky activities at my daughter’s kindergarten Halloween party next week. I offered to provide the super speedy activity for the kids. This is a Halloween activity I have used before. It does not require a whole lot of precision and works well for nursery school or kindergarten children. What are other short and simple Halloween activities that will work at school parties?

Supplies

  • One wide-mouthed glass jar for each child in the class, no lid (Mason jelly jars, Beach-Nut baby food jars, or any glass jar)
  • Tissue paper cut into small squares (orange, black, yellow, white…)
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Paper plates
  • Paint brushes
  • One tealight candle for each child in the class

Directions

  1. Mix Elmer’s glue with a little water on the paper plates.
  2. Children paint a portion of the side of the jar with the diluted glue.
  3. Press pieces of tissue onto the jar and smooth down. If needed, paint a little glue on top of the tissue pieces.
  4. Repeat until the whole jar is covered.
  5. Let dry and place tealight inside jar and light for a spooky votive.

Notes

  1. You can use any size glass jar. I really like the Beach-Nut baby food jars, but I did not know any families this year who might be buying baby food on a regular basis and would have a supply of 20+ jars for the class.
  2. If you want these to look more professional, I think you could use Mod Podge or Diamond Glaze to give the jars a more finished look.
  3. Use this activity at Christmas or Valentine’s Day as well. Just change out the tissue paper colors.