The Man, The Dream

K, 1, 2

Students learn of the life and actions taken by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the name of civil rights. Students define philanthropy and give examples of how Dr. King was a philanthropist.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talent or treasure for the common good.
  • write about one philanthropic action in the life of Dr. King.
  • sing the MLK song (Handout Two: Dr. King Remembered).
  • A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Adler (See Bibliographical References)
  • One copy of Philanthropy Card (Handout One)
  • Lyrics on chart paper and student copies of "Dr. King Remembered" song (Handout Two)
  • Daily journal
  • Pencils and crayons
  • Family Letter (Handout Three)
Home Connection 

Send home the included informational letter to families (Handout Three: Family Letter). Be sure to adapt the content so it is appropriate for your classroom.


Alder, David A. A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. New York: Holiday House, 1990. ISBN: 0823408477


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell students that you are going to sing them a song about a very special man and that you hope they will want to join you in singing it later. Sing the song as you point to the words on the chart. Explain with a little more detail about some of the concepts in the song. Tell the students that you are going to read a book about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with more details about his life.

  2. Before reading, tell the students that Martin Luther King, Jr. was a philanthropist. Hold up the Philanthropist Card (Handout One). Define philanthropy as giving or sharing time, talent or treasure for the common good. Tell the students that you want them to listen in the story for examples of Dr. King sharing his time or talent for the common good. Challenge them to think about what his talents were.

  3. Read aloud A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David Adler. Define or explain any words with which the students might not be familiar. Use the following definition as appropriate for the student group.

  4. Prejudice – an opinion formed before knowing facts about something

    Ignorance – not knowing facts about a particular subject

    Negro –a black person, an African-American

    Segregated – imposed separation of one race or class from the rest of society

    Demonstrators – people who publicly show how they feel about a topic

    Violence – physically harming a person or group of people

    Hope – to wish for something with the expectation that it will happen

    Freedom – having the rights expected of a civil society

    Peace – freedom from quarrels and fighting or hostility

    Protest – a formal disagreement by someone

    Justice – fairness

    Slavery – a state of owning persons who work hard without adequate pay

    Boycott – to stop buying or using something as a protest

    Mourning – a time or expression of sadness

  5. Ask the students to recall events from the book that characterize Dr. King as a philanthropist. This includes his work with civil rights, organizing people and motivating through speaking.

  6. Talk about the use of the word dream in the book.

  7. Discuss how citizens worked together under the leadership of Martin Luther King, Jr. to respond to a need. Challenge students to think of needs in their own school or community that they can work together to solve or that they have seen others work together to solve.

  8. Sing the "Dr. King Remembered" song with your students. You may choose to make individual copies for each student or have them read off the chart paper from the Anticipatory Set.


Students write a journal entry reflecting on one event from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. Have them answer the question "What did Dr. King do in his life for the common good?" Kindergarten students may draw a picture. First grade students may choose to draw a picture or write two sentences using inventive spelling. Second grade students should write at least a paragraph. Rubric: For a total of three points, journal entries should portray an event accurately, the event should be an example of philanthropy and the entry should be expressed in a complete thought (sentence).

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    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 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.