Black History Month Lesson Plan: Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. and Paper Watercolor Crown

A kindergarten lesson plan for Black History Month


Martin Luther King Jr. 

"The time is always right to do what is right!"

Martin Luther King Jr. 1929-1968

A literature and art lesson plan for kindergarten completed in 1 1/2 hours


Students learn about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and make their own special crown expressing his virtues


  • FC Connector Paint Box– 24 colors
  • Brushes
  • Water
  • FC 24 Brilliant Beeswax Crayons
  • Large tub of colored gems– super value pack
  • Glitter glue or white glue
  • Glitter shakers
  • Large watercolor paper Nasco School Grades 18 x 24 white
  • Pack of 100 pencils
  • Stapler
  • Ruler/straight edge
  • Scissors/Exacto knife (for teacher prep)


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., social justice, crown, watercolor, resist, embellish

National Core Art Standards - Visual 


#1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work

#3: Refine and complete artistic work


#5 Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation


#8 Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work

#11 Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural and historical context to deepen understanding

Be A King

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream and You

Be A King is a beautifully written and illustrated picture book about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he stood for. The illustrations share important moments and historical events in Dr. King’s life, along with images of a contemporary classroom of a diverse group of students involved in a project celebrating him. The author repeats “You can be a King” throughout the book, encouraging children to embrace Dr. King’s beliefs to always do one’s best, stand up to bullies, have a dream, and help others. The book also includes an “author’s note” at the end, which offers a brief biography of Dr. King, and more insight into the book’s text and illustrations.

Begin this project by gathering students on the carpet and launching a simple discussion about who Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was. Read Be A King aloud and discuss! Have children share ideas of how they can honor the life and teachings of Martin Luther King in simple everyday ways, and “Be A King” themselves by solving problems peacefully and showing fairness and kindness in school and at home. Make a list of key words and ideas like courage, fairness, respect, confidence, peace, dream, greatness, rights, and love on the whiteboard where students can later refer to during their center time crown project.

Explain the crown project, and have students choose their word/idea that they want to express on their own crown.

 Paper crown with scissors, pencil, and ruler


Prep ready to go crowns for your students by cutting 18 x 24 in. watercolor paper into 4 18 x 6 in. strips. Make yourself a template, and then draw and cut as many crowns as you need. Crown shapes can be designed in several ways, but I suggest keeping it simple, with ample room for your students to write their word in the center.

Plan a day that you have a classroom Aide and 3 parent volunteers, so you can have 5 centers with 6 students each. Choose a block of time to spend approximately 1 1/2 hours of classroom time to complete the children’s part of this project, with a recess or lunch break after the first 45 minutes. This is to allow for the paint to dry well enough for the children to continue with the embellishment stage of their crown when they return.

Paper crown with watercolor connector paints, a brush, and a beeswax crayon

Write and Paint

Cover each center with newspaper, and set out crayons, watercolor paint, bowls of water and brushes. Avoid black and brown, to avoid muddy color. After having students write their names on their crown, they flip it over to start. Begin by having the Aide and parent volunteers help guide the students in writing their chosen word “nice and big” in the center of their crown with a crayon.

Students then get to paint their crown any way they wish. Encourage them to keep their paint light and a little watery, and to paint right over their word. The crayon will resist the paint. It will be very charming and surprising to see the many ways in which they paint their crown!

Encourage children to be done with this step after about 45 minutes, just in time for lunch or recess. Let crowns semi-dry. Remove paint, water, brushes, and crayons from centers, and replace them with pans of gems, glue, and glitter.

Paper crown with the word courage and watercolors, glitter glue, and gems


This part is very fun, the kids will be very excited to choose their gems to decorate their crowns! You can control the potential chaos and stay within your budgeted art time allowance by telling children to choose a limited number of gems to use like pictured here. Have them glue their gems in place however they choose.

For the glitter, the Aide or parent volunteer can help with squeezing and guiding a bottle of glitter glue. If it is regular glue and glitter you are using, the kids may be able to manage it themselves at this point of the school year.

When finished, have each student place their crown flat on the designated drying table or floor area to dry overnight.

Watercolor paper crown and Martin Luther King Jr. Book


Finally, when the crowns are dry, staple the ends together. If you so desire and time allows, you could attach a thin elastic chin strap to each crown, using the stapler to fasten elastic ends to each side.

Your students will be excited to wear their crowns in class! Encourage them to “Be a King” at school by practicing acts of thoughtfulness and kindness all day, maybe all week! You could also encourage children to “Be a King” at home and share their good deeds with the class the following morning.

Take a big group photo of all of your kings wearing their crowns and smiles and enjoy all of their cuteness and good will for as long as you can!


Click here to download the printable lesson plan!


Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


More Posts