Keeping It Current For Grades K–6

Extend your social studies instruction with informative and inspiring content from HMH®. Each month we bring you articles, activities and current events designed to build cultural awareness, media literacy, and a deeper understanding of significant historical figures and events.

Resources for January
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • News articles for elementary classrooms

Classroom Resources from HMH

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 17
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – January 17

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was an important leader in our country’s history. As a child, King was treated differently from white children because of the color of his skin. African Americans did not have equal rights at that time. King knew that this was unfair. He decided that his life’s goal would be to change this.

King loved to learn. He put his energy into school and church. He wanted to work for equal rights in a peaceful way. As the minister of his church, Dr. King learned to speak strongly in public. He used public talks to get support for his ideas across the United States. He got together with others to work for equal rights for all. More and more people began to listen to his ideas.

Dr. King spoke at a large meeting in Washington, D.C. At this meeting, his words shook the world. His “I Have a Dream” speech made people want to take action. In 1964, the United States government passed a law that ended unfair treatment.

In 1968, Dr. King was shot and killed. The world was very sad for the loss of this strong leader. His words still inspire people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is honored every year in January with a national holiday.


Open students' minds to the impact of Martin Luther King, Jr. Access the below free lesson plan with hands-on activities around how to incorporate this important day into your social studies class.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Lesson Plan

I have a Dream Place a Picture of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on a bulletin board with a blue background. Title the board "I Have a Dream." Have children write or dictate their dreams for the future on white construction-paper clouds and illustrate them with crayons or markers. Post creations on the bulletin board and read them aloud.

Civil Rights Movement Cut-and-Paste Timeline Students will put into order the sequence of events that brought about voting rights and equal rights for African Americans.


The Civil Rights Movement took several decades to achieve its goal: equal rights for African Americans. Along the way, several key events helped to shape the outcome.

What You Need
  • Research materials such as encyclopedias, books on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Internet
  • paper
  • pencils or pens
  • scissors
  • glue, paste, or tape
What to Do
  1. Hold a brief class discussion on the definitions of “civil rights” and social “movements.” Explain that civil rights are written and unwritten rights provided to anyone who is a U.S. citizen or to anyone who belongs to a civil society. A movement includes activities undertaken by a group of people to achieve change.
  2. Ask students if they know of the major events of the Civil Rights Movement in this country during the 1950s and 1960s. Briefly describe several of these events. Explain to students that they will be completing a cut-and-paste timeline in which they will fill in dates and two or three details for nine major events during the Civil Rights Movement.
  3. Provide students with research materials, paper, pencils or pens, scissors, and glue, paste, or tape. You may wish to have students research additional events.
  4. After students have completed their research, have them cut out each section. Then have students arrange the events in chronological order and glue, paste, or tape them onto a separate piece of paper.
  5. Have students share their findings with the class.
Teaching Option

Display a United States map and have students place map pins on sites where events took place.

HMH In the News and Current Events is a great resource for elementary classrooms, with fun articles about what’s going on in the news. This website delivers age-appropriate current events stories about people, communities, the United States, and the world every month. Come back often for new stories, spotlight features, and polls.