Jan 16

Honoring Dr. King And Being the Best of Whatever We Are

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Each year we try to do something to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King—a remarkable human who dedicated and sacrificed his life to the courageous process of change-making. Someone whose story and words remind us of so much—the power of love, of justice, of brotherhood, and, in his own words, how to answer “Life’s most persistent and urgent question—‘What are you doing for others?'

I have trouble finding more important things to teach my kids, but I’m struggling to figure out how this year. Dr. King leaves us with no shortage of inspiration, but some days, it can feel like the whole world needs healing—our planet, our communities and ourselves. Where do you start? And often, even if I find an answer to where to start, it is quickly followed by, “Yeah, but is that enough?” 

In searching for ideas, I stumbled on a speech Dr. King gave in 1967 to students at a Junior High in Philadelphia, and a few sentences popped off the page:


This quote shifted the narrative for me. It’s not about the size. Get in the game. Be the best of whatever you are today. 

This led me to thinking, perhaps remembering, that just to be a teacher or a parent/caregiver of kids is to be a change maker. To help our kids see themselves as people whose lives are inextricably intertwined with other people’s, to teach them to care for others and for their world in their thoughts and actions is bold change-making work.

And, kids learn through our every action—the big ones and the small ones. In reality, they likely learn the most from observing a steady stream of small, everyday actions and ways of being. So, even little steps—whatever we can do today—can make a difference.

So, in case it helps you, too, here is a list of small but mighty ideas for ways to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther Kind Junior.. 

Learn more about Dr. King

Help children understand more about the person, the life and the work of Dr. King through stories. Read books about his life, his teachings and his work. Older kids may enjoy the National Geographic Kids site, too. 

Wishes for the World

When our kids were in preschool, they learned about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr as someone who listened, loved and worked hard to make change—to make the world a better place for all people. As part of their study, they crafted bells, then rang the bells on a hillside as they spoke wishes and intentions for their world. 

Now 8, 10 and 12, we’ll find time later today to track down those bells (they must be somewhere), take a walk and ring them again, each sharing a wish for the world and something we can commit to doing to help others. Don’t have bells? You could also make wishes as you release leaves into the wind or toss stones into a creek.

Get inspired by young change makers around the globe.

In 2021, we shared the stories of several young change makers. Read these stories or search for examples of how young individuals or groups of kids near where you live are taking action in service of their community and help your kids see that they can do things like that too someday.

Show Gratitude for the Earth

Giving thanks plays a prominent role during the fall holidays, but it’s a practice that our children (really, all of us) can benefit from all year. Genuine gratitude for the gifts that nature provides, when cultivated over time, translates directly into a lifelong calling to protect our planet. Here are some of our favorite ways to help kids express their gratitude for the Earth. Check out our Grateful for Earth DIY Activity for more ideas.

Celebrate All People

Help your kids learn to understand and value people like themselves and those different from them. For example, you can get ideas for wonderful stories with Black protagonists written by Black authors or check out one of our many book lists representing authentic points of view and a diverse set of characters and authors/illustrators. Learn about how to Include Ongoing Knowledge of Native Peoples in Your Outdoor Adventures. Or get ideas from 10 Places to Find Books that Teach Kids to be Brave About Race.

Give to Friends 

Offer kids a chance to shift their focus from acquiring treasure to appreciating the treasures that nature provides us. As kids think about how to share the joy of the holidays with our nature friends, they’ll experience a lasting lesson in empathy, gratitude and giving. Check out our Give to Friends DIY Activity for ideas.

Cut out plastic

Much of the plastic we use and throw away ends up in our oceans, and animals like sea turtles can mistake the plastic for food get entangled in it. We can each help by finding ways to use less or even no plastic at home! Check out our Cut Out Plastic DIY Activity for ways that kids can really help!

One bag of trash

Wonder with kids, What would happen if every person picked up just one bag of trash? Then decide to find out! Enjoy these tips for picking up trash with little kids in tow, and join in the earth-loving, gratifying fun! Engage your circle of family and friends, too. Check out our One Bag of Trash DIY activity for tips and ideas. 

Share what you do

Share whatever you do to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King with friends to inspire others. Tag us, and we'd love to share them, too!


Meghan Fitzgerald


After 20+ years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, I have my dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including my own, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, I worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. I earned a BA with majors in English and Developmental Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained to become a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. My worldview is formed in response to my environment, culture, family, identity and experiences. What I write in this blog will inevitably betray the blind spots I have as a result—we all have them! Please reach out if there are other perspectives or world views I could consider in anything I write about. I welcome the chance to learn and update any pieces to broaden our shared perspective!

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