Reaching to the Clouds for Equality
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe how citizens organize in response to a need.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.3 Describe a benefit of group cooperation.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
    3. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark E.10 Give an example of an action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark E.5 Give examples of actions students can take to improve the common good and list or describe responsibilities that go with those actions.

In this lesson, the students experience unequal treatment first hand and discuss fairness. Children reflect on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream. Through this activity, the students personalize a way to act out his dream.

PrintOne Sixty-Minute or Two Thirty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • listen and respond to Martin’s Big Words (see Bibliographical Reference).
  • create a cloud with a dream for the world written on it.
  • write a journal reflection on ways to treat others fairly.
  • Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport (see Bibliographical References)
  • White construction paper, two sheets per student
  • Cloud pattern for tracing (approx. dimensions: 8" x 11")
  • Old newspaper to stuff the clouds
  • Stapler
  • Fishing line, if hanging the clouds from the ceiling
  • Drawing materials
  • Excerpt from King's "I Have a Dream" speech that includes the phrases, "I have a dream..." "all men are created equal" and "judged by the content of their charcter." 
Home Connection: 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:For homework, students ask their families about their dreams and how they are working toward achieving them.

  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Explain to the children that they will be participating in a simulation – a game that will imitate something that happened in real life. Tell the students that during the simulation not everything will be fair, but after the simulation they will all be treated fairly. Pass out candy to only the students who share a certain characteristic. Tell them the characteristic. For example, "All of the students wearing blue jeans get a treat today." Listen to their reactions. Some students may get very upset. Encourage those students to share their feelings by restating their feelings: "You seem pretty angry about this." "You think it isn’t fair." "You think treats shouldn’t be given for the clothes someone is wearing." After the students seem to understand the point, tell them you agree (they have convinced you with their words) that it isn’t fair to treat people differently because of how they look. Pass out the treat to the remaining students.

  2. Tell the students that they should be proud of themselves for solving the treat problem with words. No one took someone else’s candy. They are following the example of a great man who lived (50) years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. Tell them that you are going to read a book about this man and you want them to listen for how he felt about unfair treatment of people and how he tried to solve the problem.

  3. Ask the students what big words are used for. Before reading, say, "I wonder what big words the author thought were so important that she put it in the title?" Read the book Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Stop periodically to check for understanding: What people were not treated equally/fairly? In what ways? What does segregation mean? How did MLK "fight" the problem? How did the government (mayors, governors, police chiefs and judges) respond to the protests? What is the Nobel Peace Prize?

  4. After reading, ask the students to respond to the text and each other. Questions may include the following: How did Martin Luther King, Jr. use big words? What was Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream? How did he "fight" for his dream? How can we keep this dream alive today? How should we respond when we see some unfair treatment? How was MLK a philanthropist? (A philanthropist gives time, talent or treasure for the common good.)

  5. Read aloud MLK’s dream paragraph taken from a speech in 1963. Discuss the big words he uses, the images that help you understand him and the meaning of his dream—what is he working toward?

  6. Have the students write/draw in their journals. They may communicate their dreams for a better community. Or they may write about inequality they have seen and how they will act when they see inequality.

  7. Pass out the papers for students to cut into a cloud shape (provide a pattern or cut out in advance for younger students). Staple the two clouds together but leave an opening for stuffing with newspaper. Students write "I Have a Dream" on one side of the cloud shape. On the other side, they draw a picture and write a sentence about their dreams for a better place to live. (Younger students may dictate their thoughts to an adult helper or older reading buddies.)

  8. Stuff with one sheet of newspaper to give the cloud a 3-D look. Hang the clouds from the ceiling.


For a successful cloud project, the student uses complete sentences, correct punctuation and appropriate ideas. Observe the students as they respond to the unfair treatment. Look for growing comprehension through the discussions and writing activities.