Activity:

Martin Luther King Stamp

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What You Need:

  • Colored pencils, pack of at least 12 different colors (24 may be better)
  • Sheet of clean white paper, at least 8-1/2”x11”
  • Black fine-tip marker
  • Ruler

What You Do:

  1. Start by building on a common fourth grade skill: basic research. You can check your library, where there are many outstanding books about the life of Martin Luther King, or the Internet, where you can also find extensive information about him, including video clips of his most famous speeches. Then, for a little background on stamps in our country, visit the U.S. postal service website, which offers a catalogue of famous stamp designs that have appeared in the past.
  2. Now take out the white paper, and use the ruler and black fine-tip marker to measure out a frame, 8x10” in size. Choose whether you want your stamp to be horizontal or vertical in orientation; then, across the top or the bottom, neatly print key required information: USA, First Class Postage, and the name of the person or event you will draw.  Remember that this writing isn’t just a scrawl: your child will want to choose a particular font, just like in real-life stamps.
  3. Use the colored pencils to create an illustration that honors King and his legacy.  Your child might draw the March on Washington, for example, or one of the many images from the I Have a Dream Speech.  Whatever she chooses, make sure the picture fills the frame, with as much space colored in as possible.

Did You Know?

  • In the United States, many ideas for stamps don’t come from government leaders; they come from regular, everyday Americans—and that can include fourth graders!
  • If you submit a stamp and the government decides to publish it, expect the process to take about three years…but of course, once the stamp appears, its artist has achieved an international viewing audience!
  • By federal rules, the government only prints portraits of deceased Americans, at least 10 years after their death. One exception: a stamp with a president on it can be issued one year after his death.
  • Stamps that commemorate major events are generally issued on the 50th anniversary of that event. Psst: The March on Washington happened in 1963, the Civil Rights Act in 1964, and King’s assassination happened in 1968, just for starters!

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