Tag Archives: elementary education

5 Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr., Day!


Every January, many Americans have a day off to celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This holiday allows us to honor the birthday of one of our most famous and influential Civil Rights leaders.

Born in Georgia in 1929, King fought for equality and justice throughout his life. He believed in peaceful protest as a way to bring about social change. Legal racial segregation in the U.S. ended in large part due to his work. With this holiday, we celebrate his life, his work, and take the time to reflect and honor his legacy.

This is also a great time to talk about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. While King was an important leader, there were many people who contributed to the cause including Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and many others. In addition, this is a great time to talk about what those people fought for and the events in our history that made the movement important.

A review of the movement could start with the slave trade and the devastating effects of slavery in the South. Discuss the many heroes in the abolitionist movement including those who helped many escape from the South. The Civil War resulted in freedom for the slaves and Reconstruction provided many opportunities cut short by segregationist policies. The Great Migration saw many flee to opportunities in the North and was the impetus for the Harlem Renaissance and the flowering of African American art and music. Today there continue to be setbacks and struggle within our communities and King’s birthday can be a time to talk about how far we have come, and how far we still have to go.

Finally, while children living abroad are exposed to a wide variety of world history, geography, and language experiences unavailable in the U.S., sometimes our own history is given short shrift. Families can incorporate books, stories, and activities into home life to ensure children know about their own holidays and historical leaders as well as those in the host country.

Here are five ideas for learning about King and celebrating his birthday with the family.

  1. Create a timeline of Civil Rights history after reading books about the topic or watching videos. History.com is a great place to find educational videos.
  2. Celebrate his birthday with a cake and make cards thanking him for his work!
  3. Learn about his “I have a Dream” speech and then make lists of personal and family dreams and goals.
  4. Talk about diversity and equality in the United States and in the country in which you are living. Compare and contrast the history of equality in the U.S. and in other countries.
  5. Give back and honor King’s commitment to service. Volunteer at a local shelter, arrange a neighborhood trash pick-up, or make a donation to a favorite charity.

Our favorite books about King include:

  • For all children, Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by Doreen Rappaport, is a Caldecott award winner that tells the story of his life using his original writing.
  • For elementary children, I Have a Dream, by Dr. Martin Luther King and Kadir Nelson, pairs King’s most famous speech with beautiful pictures
  • Middle school children will enjoy Free at Last, by Angela Bull, which is a thorough biography with illustrations.

Martin Luther King, Jr., fought to end racial segregation and inspired, and continues to inspire, many Americans. This holiday is perfect for discussing the Civil Rights Movement and the impact of one of the movement’s most famous leaders.


American History Videos to Complement your American-History-in-a-Box!

Our American History boxes include books, games, puzzles, and activities to learn the major concepts in our history. We recommend starting each topic with a quick video to learn background information before reading the books included in the box. We love the videos found on http://www.havefunwithhistory.com/HistorySubjects/index.html because they are short, engaging, and full of great information.

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Another great option is to listen to the free Khan Academy lectures on each time period. You can find them here: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/history-survey/us-history-survey/v/us-history-overview-1-jamestown-to-the-civil-war

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Including a variety of resources when learning history helps kids to internalize the major concepts and ideas in our history. We recommend watching a short video for each topic, then read the books in your box, and finally complete the activities in the workbook. We encourage families to talk about the topics and to try to:

  1. Put the concept in the context of the time period. What else was happening in the U.S. at that time?
  2. Put the concept in the context of today. How do we look back on that person, event, or idea? How do we think about it now?
  3. Put the concept in the context of the country in which you are currently living (if possible). What was going on in your host country during this time period?

For additional materials or resources, write to us at http://www.afterschoolplans.com.

Resources to use with your “American History in a Box”

Short Movies about History

U.S. History: Crash Course https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL8dPuuaLjXtMwmepBjTSG593eG7ObzO7s These short videos that take you through the major time periods in American History. This is a great way to start any history lesson. Let your child watch the video for background, then read the book in your box on that topic. Finally, complete the activity for that time period in your activity book.

Watch Know Learn http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=116 You will find a variety of short videos about every topic in American history. After reading about a concept, explore this site for more information!

Video Series

This is America, Charlie Brown http://www.amazon.com/This-America-Charlie-Brown-Complete/dp/B00I462XSY/ref=sr_1_6?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1460333366&sr=1-6&keywords=american+history+video&refinements=p_n_theme_browse-bin%3A2650365011 This series covers most major events in our history and is great fun to watch!

 Liberty’s Kids http://www.amazon.com/Libertys-Kids-Complete-Walter-Cronkite/dp/B00CMDPTTA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460302092&sr=8-1&keywords=libertys+kids This video does a great job of teaching children about Colonial America. Then, visit www.libertyskids.com for games and activities to reinforce that learning!

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? http://www.amazon.com/Where-World-Carmen-Sandiego-Classic/dp/B00002SANG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1460302171&sr=8-1&keywords=where+in+the+world+is+carmen+sandiego This fun video series helps children learn about geography and major sights around the world. Use the atlas in your history box to pinpoint where she is!

Primary Documents https://www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/ourdocs/PrimDocsHome.html  The Library of Congress shares many important documents in our history. Explore their website and check out their book lists for adults and children!

American History Music                                                                                                                  Songs for Teaching http://www.songsforteaching.com/store/learning-american-history-by-song-pr-58495.html You will find many wonderful songs from all time periods in history with this website. After learning about a time period, check out some of the songs that were being sung, played, or composed!

Schoolhouse Rock http://www.amazon.com/Schoolhouse-Rock-Special-Anniversary-Edition/dp/B00005JKTY/ref=pd_bxgy_74_3?ie=UTF8&refRID=1Z7RXYHW95K1HAAVSV9W Many parents will remember these catchy songs including “This is a Bill,” and “Mother Necessity!”

American History Crafts                                                                                                                         A Book in Time: http://www.abookintime.com/crafts/projectsmainamerica.html Search for crafts by time period. After completing your activity for the time period you are studying, see if you can find a fun craft to do with your family!

Who Afterschools?

Afterschooling: Educating children at home on weekends, holidays, and after a regular school day.

Who Afterschools?

  • Parents who believe the school curriculum is not comprehensive enough,
  • Parents who think their child will excel academically if they practice and review educational content in a home environment,
  • Parents who love learning and want to bond, share, and connect with their children in an academic way,
  • Parents with children who need a little extra support to excel in school,
  • Parents with interested, engaged, motivated, and intellectual children,
  • and parents interested in using regular interactions in a focused and beneficial way.

Afterschooling can be spontaneous and unplanned or focused, scheduled, and organized.

Parents can use a year long education plan such as those we offer on our education plans page. Or, they might purchase a personalized plan written by one of our educational consultants. They might create their own plan using the Common Core Standards, or use any variety of homeschooling resources available online and in bookstores.

Why Afterschooling?

  1. afterschooling
    Web definitions
    1. An afterschooler is a child who attends a traditional school, but receives supplemental teaching from his parents in the evenings, on weekends and during vacations.


    Afterschooling is gaining in popularity as an organized way of turning everyday experiences into teaching moments. Parents might have a structured time for reading and learning new skills or they might try to fit as many teachable moments into the day as they possibly can. Afterschooling allows parents to show their children that one can learn anywhere and anytime, not just in school.

    Of course, parents have always taught their children at home. Sharing information, reading together, and visiting museums are just a few ways that parents educate their children. But, now parents are interested in enhancing their child’s education by practicing skills currently being taught in school. They are interested in integrating content from school reading into experiences at home. They are interested in knowing what their child is learning in school, what they are going to learn later, and how the parent can best support that learning.  They want to maximize their child’s educational and intellectual opportunities throughout the day.

    Afterschooling is simply a way to enhance a child’s education, apply learning to other situations, and expand on current knowledge. It is a structured and mindful way of helping your child succeed and reach their intellectual potential. 

    Parents can Afterschool in so many ways. They can continue what they are doing, and probably doing well. They can mindfully pick books and activities that support learning at school. They can research the school curriculum and identify holes and omissions and actively teach to those areas. They can let the student direct the learning toward their particular interests and purchase books, visit museums, or even sign up for an online class to further those interests. The parent must decide what is best for their child and what is reasonable for their family situation.

    A personalized education plan is likely to be successful. Have a discussion with your child about what they are learning in school, what they are interested in learning more about, and what concepts or skills might need more attention. Then, find books, websites, games, and toys that fill those areas. Search online for activities and games that you can do at home to practice and master the skills and concepts you are trying to learn. Make time at home, preferably at the same time every day, to afterschool. Use some time on the weekends to learn and grow as a family using your identified books and activities.

    Incorporating learning into your home and vacation life will show your child why learning is important. Working together builds connections within families and shows the value of learning to the family. Start Afterschooling today. Your child will benefit at home and at school.

    At Afterschoolplans.com we provide Afterschooling book lists and activity ideas. We also write personalized plans based on an interest and needs survey filled out by you and your child. For more information, write to afterschoolplans@gmail.com.