Martin's BIG Words for BIG Kids!!


Picture books aren't just for little kids!! As an upper grade teacher, I love to incorporate picture books into our literacy block, especially as a way to encourage my students to think, discuss, and reflect.

To celebrate the extraordinary life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I love using the book Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. Martin's words were so powerful and this book weaves them in with a short biography of his life. Along with the beautiful illustrations by Bryan Collier, this story is a favorite of my students each and every year.


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I have created a few different activities to use with my students to help bring this book to life and to encourage them to think of the powerful words of Dr. King.

These activities start with reading the picture book aloud to students. If you do not have this book or have never heard of it, use the affiliate link below to learn more!!

Click the pic to learn more.

Part 1: Read Aloud
As you read this story aloud, ask students to listen for evidence for the following main ideas:

  • MAIN IDEA #1: Martin used his words to inspire others.
  • MAIN IDEA #2: Martin used peaceful action to bring about change.

Encourage students to raise their hands when they find evidence of one of the main ideas. Allow students to share and discuss evidence and details to support the main ideas. Students should each have a copy of the recording sheet. Give them time to record the evidence discussed on sticky notes.


Part 2: Group Discussions
Break students into small groups of 3 to 5. Pass out Quote Cards with other famous words from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ask students discuss each of the quotes using the discussion prompts provided.



Part 3: Reflection
After students have discussed each of the Quote Cards, have each student choose 1 of the quote cards to use to write a reflection. They should glue their card on the reflection page and independently answer each of the questions.



Part 4: Write
You can also have students take their reflection a step further by completing a final writing assignment. Students should refer to the evidence they collected while reading Martin’s Big Words, and ideas from their group discussions when completing their writing assignments.



I love these activities because they incorporate elements of reading, writing, and speaking and listening. These activities are also easy to prep, and easy to implement during one literacy block. But most importantly, these activities help us to recognize and celebrate the life, words, and legacy of Dr. King!!

If you would like to take a closer look at this resource, click on the pic below to visit my teacher shop on TpT.