Teaching About MLK Jr. through Storytelling & other Strategies

Everyone loves a good story. Storytelling is a hallmark of the human race! It is a cultural activity, common to every known culture across the world. When we get together with friends and family, we tell stories. We discuss recent and past events, and share humor, suspense, anger, sadness, joy, fear, and more. As our friends and loved ones share their stories, we learn more about them and their experiences. Novels, movies, and short stories entertain us and bring us joy. Storytelling is timeless and limitless.

Stories do more than entertain us, though. Through stories we impart knowledge and experience. They allow us to make sense of the world and the events that surround us. The best stories express emotion and use patterns which help us to retain information. Stories show us that we are not alone in this world, that our experiences may be similar or familiar to others, that humanity perseveres. The best stories also inspire us to be better. Thus is the case of the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. His story, taught through the Narrative Input Chart, teaches students critical aspects of U.S. history while inspiring them to people that fight for what is right and just in this world. 

The attached  Narrative Input Chart on Martin Luther King, Jr , in English and Spanish, is an engaging way to teach the story of this important figure. The Narrative Input can be used over several days, incorporating multiple lessons to teach students content. The process outlined below can be used to teach any content in a narrative format, not just to teach the story of MLK. Use the following steps, day by day, to effectively implement the Narrative Input Chart.

Teacher Prep for the Narrative Input Chart

Choose or write a story. The story should include the content concepts that you are teaching, as well as embedded key vocabulary. Select pictures that help to make the content more comprehensible and that show the key characteristics of the story, content, and unit concepts visually. For the Martin Luther King Junior “I Have a Dream” story, the text and visuals have already been developed for you, in both English and Spanish!

Print the  story  and  pictures . The pictures do not have to be printed in color, if you do not have access to a color printer. Cut out the pictures and the text, and glue or tape the text to the back of the pictures.

Create a simple background. During instruction, you will affix the pictures to the background.


The Narrative Input Chart follows a 10-day sequence of lessons. You will begin by reading the story to the students. Then, each day, you review the story in a different way. Each step is outlined briefly below. For a detailed handout explaining each of the steps,  click here .

Day 1: Read the story all the way through to the students. Attach the pictures to the background as you read the story.

Day 2: Review the story with word cards. As you retell the story in your own words, students bring up the word card and add it to the corresponding picture on the chart.

Day 3: Review the story with conversation bubbles. As you retell the story in your own words, students bring up the conversation bubble and add it to the corresponding picture on the chart.

For days 4-10, download this handout explaining the lessons and steps

Try it Out!

This fun and interactive teaching sequence engages students in learning through oral storytelling. With the Narrative Input on Martin Luther King Junior “I Have a Dream” provided, you have a great resource to get started implementing this powerful strategy, in English or in Spanish! Celebrate Martin Luther King Junior’s legacy this year through the power of storytelling.

Resources to Teach this:

MLK Narrative Resources & Examples (English and Spanish)

Narrative Input Chart 10-Day Lesson Cycle

Other Strategies to Teach about MLK Jr.

Poetry & Lessons

Pictorial English

Pictorial Spanish

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