Best MLK Jr. Day Activity!

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it can be a tricky topic to get into with a 3 yr old. For many years I jumped into MLK Jr. Day way too deep. After a week of reading books intended for 1st graders and attempting to talk with preschoolers about the Civil Rights Movement, I realized that the kids really didn’t take anything away from my teachings, no matter my enthusiasm for the topic.

Then inspiration struck in the oddest of places, a yoga studio. The instructor was discussing MLK Jr. and what the day was really about. Yes, it’s a celebration of a man’s impact, but also the principles on which he stood; peace, cooperation, and acceptance. That’s when it hit me. I had to meet the children on their level. Instead of focusing all my energy on teaching MLK Jr., I needed to focus on the teachings of MLK Jr. Here is one of my favorite activities to do on MLK Jr. Day.


Friend Finger Painting


A large piece on finger paint paper, or a large sheet of construction paper

At least two different colors of finger paint

2 kiddos

Let’s Get Started:

Pick two children to work together. Normally I always let the children select who they work with but for this activity I would pair little ones who usually didn’t play together or had trouble getting along. Have the children sit on either side of a table or on the corners near one another. Offer up of the colors you have and let the children each select one color to start. Place a SMALL (think dime size) amount of paint on opposite ends of the paper and let them go at it. As they move the paint around ask them what they think will happen when the paints touch. Ask them what new color it would make. Take the questioning even further and ask them WHY they think their responses. With the paper pretty much covered (trust me it will be super covered) ask them to pick another color to add to their art. Have them decide TOGETHER which color they would want to add. Add an even smaller amount of paint at the top of the paper and let them play.

Questioning Opportunities:

As the children paint remark on different sections of their work and ask them to describe what is happening. Write down what they say on a separate piece of paper so you can read it back later. When the painting is finished, “What are going to call this” is an amazing question.


Sensory issues are not uncommon with little ones and one way to get around this with finger paint is by providing Q-tips.

Closing the Activity:

At rug time share the paintings with the class. Have the children who worked together stand up as tell their friends what they created and the name of their piece. As a class discuss the importance of working together and reinforce that when we work together we can make amazing things.


Have fun painting and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!!!

                                                                                                -Ms. Giannini