Several years ago, the kids and I accompanied my husband to Atlanta. While he spent his days working, the kids and I spent our days acclimating ourselves to the South and exploring the city. When I spotted the sign announcing the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site, the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., from the highway near Downtown Atlanta, I couldn’t resist stopping for a quick “field trip”. If you want to further your knowledge of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement, this national historic site is a great place to start.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic site preserves the places where Dr. King lived his life. You’ll see the home where he was born, where he worked, where he worshipped, gave speeches and where he is buried. The complex is comprised of the Visitor’s Center, the King Center (Freedom Hall), the Birth Home, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Fire Station No. 6 and the burial place of Dr. King.
Though the kids and I didn’t have time to visit the entire complex, we did spend a fair amount of time in the Visitor’s Center, viewing the various exhibits, watching the movies and film clips, and talking with one of the rangers.
Before visiting the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr., I thought I had a pretty good grasp of the Civil Rights era. I was mistaken.The kids and I left heavy hearted by the hatred that we had seen and read about during one short trip to the Visitor’s Center. While I was saddened by the stories I read and the discrimination I saw, I was encouraged that though our country is not perfect, we have made great strides during the last couple decades.
Visiting the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site is free but you will need a ticket for the Birth Home Tour. Be sure to arrive early in the day to ensure that you get a ticket. The rest of the complex is self-guided so you can experience the park at your own pace. Plan to spend about 1 1/2 to 2 hours to see everything.
Although there are signs warning you of panhandlers and reminders to secure all items of value out of sight in your car, I did not feel that I needed to be concerned for my safety and would certainly visit again.
If visiting Atlanta is out of the question, take a look at your own community or one nearby to see if they have erected a memorial of some type to Martin Luther King, Jr.
Civil Rights Movement and Martin Luther King, Jr. Resources for Homeschoolers
The National Park Service offers curriculum guides and resources to help prepare for your visit or to learn more about MLK, Jr. for children in grades K-8th, but can be adapted for older students as well.
The NEA (National Education Association) also has suggested classroom materials for all ages.
Jimmie’s Collage offers ideas for studying the Civil Rights Movement for upper elementary students.
JenniferSikora.com offers a list of free resources for your homeschool to study Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
The Homeschool Mom has a free Martin Luther King, Jr. unit study that you can download.
Mama’s Learning Corner offers a free Martin Luther King, Jr. Unit Study Resources with free worksheets for 2nd- 3rd graders.
And don’t forget that I have a few generic notebooking pages that I created to use for any area of study or field trip.