Learning About MLK Through Music

Image by John Hain from Pixabay.

Use music to learn about the life and contributions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. From in-class learning to special performance programming, find kid-friendly songs that were sung during the Civil Rights Movement to songs that honor MLK’s life and work.

  1. K-5 Curriculum
  2. Making Music
    1. Martin’s Dream
    2. Dr. King Had a Dream
    3. PEACE to the Tune BINGO
    4. Creating in 6/8 With “I Have a Dream”
  3. Books for the Classroom
  4. Decor for the Classroom
  5. Videos
    1. His Life
    2. Songs That Tell His Story

K-5 Curriculum

I had a set curriculum so that I always had something fresh for each grade level.

Prior KnowledgeBooks & VideosSong
KMartin’s Big WordsDr. MLK Had a Dream
1“What do you know about MLK?” discussion.Martin’s Big WordsSing About Martin (video below)
2“What do you know about MLK?” discussion.Martin’s Big Words, Quaver He Had a DreamKid Like Me (textbook)
3“What do you know about MLK?” discussion.I Have a Dream, MLK Play AlongKeep Your Eyes On the Prize
4“What do you know about MLK?” discussion.Kid President Video, Maccabeats & Natually 7Orff arr. (below)
5“What do you know about MLK?” discussion.Granddaughter Video, MLK FreestyleOrff arr. (below)

Making Music

Martin’s Dream

Martin’s Dream of 1963

Here’s a fresh and engaging song arrangement about Martin Luther King, Jr in a presentation featuring Orff, Kodaly, and optional recorder sections for your teaching for MLK Day, Black History Month, or any time of the year.

Dr. King Had a Dream

Dr. King Had a Dream

Lyrics about MLK’s dream have been set to the tune of the two-chord (F, C7) “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands”, perfect for beginning ukulele players, with a newly composed “B” section that can be used as a harmony partner song for the big finale.

PEACE to the Tune BINGO

Dr. King, he had a dream, he had a dream for all you see.
P-E-A-C-E, P-E-A-C-E, P-E-A-C-E
His name was Martin Luther King!

On the board, I put the letters PEACE, erasing one letter after each verse!  Put an “X” where the letter would be and instruct students to clap on every X. Works great!

1.  We already know the song BINGO so this switch is not hard.

2.  Once we sing it as a group, as a group we replace the clap with something else.

3.  We take suggestions which usually are; snap, pat, stomp, hit our chairs, cluck our tongues, etc.  We vote on which one we want to do and do the NEW sound/motion as a class.

4.  The next class, partners or small groups choose a new sound/motion and then we sing as a class.
There are so many fun possibilities.  You can ask the groups to choose a motion, a sound, an instrument, a leveled motion (high, middle, low).

Creating in 6/8 With “I Have a Dream”

I found this back in the Bartolomeo vault 😄 and it is a jewel! Explore one of MLK’s greatest speeches through music!

Explore the above patterns with body percussion, unpitched percussion, or barred instruments!

Books for the Classroom

As an Amazon Affiliate, some links are paid links.

Martin’s Big Words is a great book for K-3 and is about Dr. King’s life from his birth to his death. I originally found it at my school in big book form (your K or first teachers might have it) and then got a copy in regular book size as well.
I Have a Dream is based on the famous speech with beautiful illustrations. This would be a great book for grades 3-6.

Decor for the Classroom

As an Amazon Affiliate, some links are paid links.


His Life


A FABULOUS video is by NUMBEROCK. It tells his story through music. (Link only, not shareable)

Songs That Tell His Story

Author: lbbartolomeo

I'm a mom, wife, teacher, reader, gardener, trekkie, sci-fi fanatic, musician, dog lover, and a Christian. I hope my contributions bring some joy and happiness to your life!

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