Teaching Children About Tikkun Olam on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Take a cue from The Maccabeats and Naturally Seven to “share a little light” with a tikkun olam project in honor of MLK Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a great civil rights leader and a wonderful example of tikkun olam, the Jewish value of repairing the world. In fact, many communities and families in the US use Martin Luther King Day as an opportunity to do service projects.

Dr. King dedicated his life to making the world a better place and securing equal rights for all people. He was the definition of a mensch – an all-around good person.

Children are never too young to contribute to their family, community and even the world. From composting to planting flowers in public places to turning off the tap while brushing teeth — the possibilities for practicing tikkun olam with young children are limitless. Enjoy each activity, remembering that, together, we can repair our big world, one small act at a time!

Honor Dr. King and his legacy with some of these service ideas and activities:

Related: Jewish Children’s Books to Read on Martin Luther King Jr. Day



See how a seed grows by sprouting an avocado pit. Watch the roots develop over time and see how long it takes before you can transfer it into soil. Talk about what else you might grow in a family garden and who could benefit from the food you grow. Find out if a local soup kitchens or food bank accepts fresh good for donation; they often need fresh produce in addition to canned goods.


Tikkun Olam Ted
One Good Deed


Talk about diversity in the environment. When you examine trees and flowers outside, how is each tree or plant unique, and how are all trees the same? What can this teach us about respecting differences in people?

Elementary Age


Meet up with some friends for a park cleanup and help beautify a play space so more children and families can enjoy it.


How Dalia Put a Big Yellow Comforter Inside a Tiny Blue Box
Mitzvah Pizza


Talk about ways to keep the earth cleaner and less polluted. How do the energy we use and the things we buy affect the health of our planet?

Middle School Age


Plan a family service project. There are lots of ways to help out in your community even if you only have a couple of hours to spend. Try one of these ideas:


The Adventures of Jelly Eli Z.
Susie Q Fights Back


Talk about your family’s history. Does your family have local roots, so to speak, going back generations, or are you relatively new to your city, region, or country?


Interested in learning more about Jewish connections to Martin Luther King Day? Check out these resources:

Does your family have an MLK Day tradition? Share it with us on the PJ Library Facebook page.