Integrated Thematic Unit: Martin Luther King Jr.

Posted by Teresa M. on Jan 13, 2016 8:00:00 AM

History teaches that one person can have a huge impact on many. Martin Luther King Jr. is one such individual. His life can be used to teach many learning concepts and can be implemented into a variety of curriculmn areas including reading, writing, math and social studies. Try implementing these activities and resources into your classroom for an integrated thematic unit celebrating Martin Luther King Jr.’s life.

By teaching history as a cross curricular unit, it allows students to explore many facets of history. If you only teach one subject area, you can work collaboratively with other areas. This type of learning provides depth and breadth to your lessons.

Cross Curricular Lesson Ideas:


  • Using classroom books to enhance student understanding of the holiday
  • Using literacy resources such as Big Universe to assign materials at  various reading levels.
  • If you are unfamiliar with this tool, refer to the professional development portal to learn more.

Tonya Leslie
ISBN: 9781600140907

Bellwether Media Inc.



From the publisher, “Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed about a day when people would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. This book introduces young readers to a man who fully believed in fairness. Blastoff! Series.”

Wendy Conklin
ISBN: 9780743906715
Teacher Created Materials


From the publisher, “Martin Luther King Jr. grew up knowing that there needed to be a change in the way that African Americans were treated, and he held a dream from the time he was a young boy that he would help make that change happen. Unlike most of the activists in the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. was committed to nonviolence.”




Ida Walker (author)
AR: Accelerated Reader (AR) Points:3.0
ISBN: 9781617851674


From the publisher, “Explores the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.and how that event has sculpted societies, the sciences, and politics.”


  • Write a letter to Martin Luther King and students write letters back based on their research.
  • Write an Acrostic Poem using Martin Luther King Jr. as a class.
  • Write a mini biography about Martin Luther King Jr.’s Life.
  • Have students write and present their own "I have a dream" speech

Math and Map Skills

  • Calculate the distances he traveled.
  • Convert feet to miles.
  • Plot the Freedom Marches on a map.

Social Skills

  • Practice manners and reinforce respect to others.
  • Begin an anti-bullying campaign.
  • Make posters for your campaign.
  • Plan an anti-bullying march.

Additional Supporting Materials

from reading to writing or math, Big Universe has resources that support any thematic unit.  If you or your students need background knowledge the following resources will be helpful.



Gwenyth Swain Gloria Whelan (author), David Geister Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen illustrator)
ISBN: 9781627530545

Sleeping Bear Press

From the publisher, “Voices for Freedom contains three stories focusing on the Underground Railroad and the 1963 Freedom March on Washington. Stories are Friend on Freedom River, Riding to Washington, and The Listeners.In Friend on Freedom River, written by Gloria Whelan, runaway slaves ask Louis to ferry them across the Detroit River to freedom in Canada. He’s not sure what to do. If they are caught, it means prison for Louis. Written by Gwenyth Swain, Riding to Washington tells of one girl’s journey to attend the 1963 Great March on Washington. Janie and her father ride a bus to Washington, D.C. to hear a man named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak. During the trip, Janie sees firsthand the injustices that many others endure. In The Listeners, another offering from Gloria Whelan, each night Ella May and her friends secretly listen outside the windows of their master’s house. They listen to learn their fates and those of the other slaves.”



Kate Torpie (author)
ISBN: 9780778789734

Crabtree Publishing Company

From the Publisher, “Easy to follow instructions and colorful artwork come together to guide the young reader through the exciting world of map drawing.”




Writing Poems


Pictures from R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet
Judy Young (author), Victor Juhasz (illustrator)
AR: Accelerated Reader (AR) Points:1.0, Accelerated Reader (AR) Quiz Number:106302
ISBN: 9781627532051

Sleeping Bear Press

We would love to showcase your thematic unit. Send us your pictures of your posters, letters or maps from this integrated lesson.

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