South Orangetown Central School District

Jackie Nandlal's class learns about Martin Luther King, Jr.

In recognition of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, William O. Schaefer Elementary School teacher Jaclyn Nandlal engaged her second grade class in a lesson last week to teach them about his life and legacy and how we can change the world with our own two hands.

“I chose to cover Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s life’s teachings in class because at the elementary level, we lay the foundation and spark curiosity about this important topic,” said Nandlal. She started the lesson by giving some background information about Dr. King including his work as a civil rights leader, his messages of peace and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C. Nandlal also showed the class a short video featuring Dr. King’s granddaughter, Yolanda Renee King, as she toured his childhood home in Atlanta, Georgia, which has been turned into a historic museum by the National Park Service.

“After we learned about his life, family, and his dream, we completed two worksheets that gave students the opportunity to be inspired by his work,” Nandlal explained. For the first worksheet, students were asked to answer three questions: If Dr. King came over to their house, what would you ask him, what would you tell him and what would you show him? “This allowed the students to put themselves in the shoes of an interviewer, but also take the time to truly think and share important parts of their own childhood,” said Nandlal. Some answers included:

“I would ask him how he came up with so many great ideas.”
“I would want to tell him that he was so brave.”
“I would show him how brave I am!”

Inspired by the song “With My Own Two Hands,” by Ben Harper, Nandlal had students reflect on how they could have a positive impact on the world like Dr. King by thinking of one way they could change the world with just their two hands. Students said that they can change the world by picking up garbage to stop pollution, sharing fruits and vegetables from their garden and spreading kindness. Once they completed these exercises, students gathered on the rug to share their ideas. Nandlal noted, “Both worksheets were a window into the eyes of a second grader. They were inspired by Dr. King. Their answers were filled with positivity and hope for a world where his dream and “more” could ultimately be fulfilled.”