MLK Jr. Day Activities and Events

Posted: January 17, 2020

Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and school's out. We've pulled together ten ways for kids to spend the day, either in observance of the holiday, or as a way to enjoy an extra day off. Find more option in our Calendar of events!


Activities for Observing 

King Day 2020: Focused on Freedom
DuSable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl., Chicago
Attendees are encouraged to reflect on Dr. King’s vision of justice, equality and freedom for all, during a day filled with lectures, performances, films and much more. The theme of the 2020 Celebration, FOCUSED ON FREEDOM, was inspired by one of Dr. King’s quotes on freedom: "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor, it must be demanded by the oppressed." All ages. 10am - 6pm. Included with admission.

Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Day
Chicago History Museum, Clark St. at North Ave., Chicago
Commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at this family friendly event. Enjoy a production of The MLK Project: The Fight for Civil Rights by Writers Theatre and a musical performance by the Chicago Chamber Choir, along with storytelling and crafts for kids that reflect King’s messages of peace and justice. 10:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. All ages. FREE.

9th 13th Annual MLK Jr. Day Literacy Fair
Northwestern Settlement, 1012 N Noble Street, Chicago
Our 13th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Literacy Fair's theme is “This Moment in History,” a tribute to the 400th anniversary of slavery in America. This event allows members of the community to interact, learn, and have fun while exploring the different aspects of literacy. Participants will have the opportunity to partake in a variety of literacy-based activities, including games, arts and crafts, and creative writing! Families with readers of every age are invited and encouraged to attend! 10am - 12pm. FREE.

BASE What does it mean Dr. King?
Chicago Children's Museum, Navy Pier, Chicago
What was the Civil Rights Movement and what does it mean for kids today? Take a journey back in time and learn about freedom through our interactive musical drama. Children (and their adults) are encouraged to participate by singing songs of freedom and sharing how they would have reacted to situations that occurred during the Civil Rights Movement. Ages 4 and up. Pick up a ticket (included in the cost of museum admission) 1 hour prior to the performance. Space is limited. 10:45 am, 11:45 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm.

King Day Festival: Tomorrow Is Today
Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and create a vision for the future guided by artists and activists at work today. Chicago-based sound and visual artist Damon Locks presents a music performance with his Black Monument Ensemble. Move Me Soul dancers present a movement workshop, and young artists from the award-winning Rebirth/Reborn Poetry Ensemble share powerful spoken word pieces. All ages. 10:30–3:00. Illinois residents receive free museum admission on King Day.

Songs of Peace, Harmony, and Freedom in Honor of Dr. King
Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave., Chicago
Join teachers, staff, and friends as we offer up songs of peace and unity at several FREE events during the day. At noon on Monday in our East building, 4545 N. Lincoln, we’ll host a family friendly singalong with music from our songbook and more. All ages. Noon. FREE.

Activities for Fun

Mystery Camp! Choose-your-own-Adventure
The Laboratory, 2349 W. North Ave., Chicago
In this fun, hands-on camps, kids become part of the adventure story. Hear the scenarios. Make decisions. Use STEM experiments to solve the mysteries. Our Choose-your-own-Adventure camps have new storylines, experiments and projects each time. Ages 7-12. 9:00am-3:00pm with Before Care and After Care Available. $90.

Power4Girls MLK Day Off Event
Immaculate Conception Parish, 770 Deerfield Road, Highland Park
Girls can enjoy a day filled with fun activities including Softball and Related Games, GirlStrong Theater, Lunch & Motivational Girl Talk, Floor Hockey & Lacrosse and Related Games, Community Service Project & Team building Fun, and Basketball and Related Games. All participants will also receive a swag bag full of goodies. For PreK - 4th grade. 9:00am - 3:00pm. $15/hour in advance, $20/hour for walk-up.

RoboThink Tank Mini-Camp: MLK DAY
Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest
Build your own amazing robotic mini tanks then engage them in exciting challenges and activities. Our lesson plans are built around RoboThink’s exclusive kits, plans and STEM curriculum, designed by teachers and engineers. The activities are interactive, hands-on and engaging to promote learning in a fun way! Ages 6-12. 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. $40.

Harry Potter Day - JCC School's Out
Bernard Weinger JCC, 300 Revere Drive, Northbrook
PLUS: Students will be bussed from Hyde Park JCC, Alcott Elementary and Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue
Enroll in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Make wands, brew potions, play Quidditch, and compete for the House Cup. We are taking the Hogwarts Express at Platform 9 ¾ (designated drop-off sites) to Bernard Weinger JCC for a day of activities. Kids will need to bring a lunch, swimsuit, towel, and change of clothes. All other needed ingredients will be included once your day has begun. For ages 5-11. 8am-4pm. $80.

MLK Day Clay Camp
Kids Clay Room, 2646 N. Halsted St., Chicago
Children will make and paint ceramic projects using wet clay and clay tools. Call, email or register online. For ages 5 and up. 9 am to 12 pm. $55.

MLK ART Camp
The Paintbrush...a hands-on ART studio for kids, 2646 N. Halsted, Chicago
Kids can join in the creativity of a half day or full day of art projects based on our class model of introducing an artist and creating a masterpiece based on that artist’s work. The laid-back camp atmosphere often allows for a second or third project, and/or our beloved free-art play options such as painting the table, creating a group project, face painting and more. Ages 4-12. 12:00-3:00. $57. (9:00a.m. early drop-off available for kids ages 5 and up: $27 - reserve in advance.)