Make a Box: a hands-on activity offers an opportunity for metacognition
by Dr. Katherine Schlatter

Classroom activities that engage children in craftsmanship and analytical skills can stretch and expand learning beyond cognition into the rehlm of reflective thinking, or metacognition. This is especially true when students are also presented with key learning objectives. The ideas and motivation for this Make a Box Activity came from THENCE partner Ashley Causey-Golden who proposed that a three dimensional object can be utilized to teach about how Dr. Martin Luther King was a multi-faceted person. The learning objective can be singular for young learners or more complex for elementary, upper elementary, middle and even high school students. But, more on that in a moment.

First let us acknowledge that Dr. King held many important roles, but most classrooms only explore his life's work as it connects to the US Civil Rights Movement and his famous "I have a dream" speech. Ashley Causey-Golden, who is also the founder of Afrocentric Montessori,  created the series about Dr. King to support classrooms in exploring the many sides to Dr. Kings life. You can watch the interactive videos here in which Ashley explains her approach.

Part of the classroom activity proposed is the physical construction of a box, this can be achieved using our step by step origami video, to be viewed below or printing out a simple cut and tape box-making activity, perhaps suited to younger children, this printable is available here.

We also offer a photo package that can be printed and cut out to decorate each side of the box, or teacher's may ask children to write a word or a sentence to prompt their thinking and presentation about the many sides of Dr. King's life, work, or one of the many roles he held.

This activity can be adapted for even very early learners and yet it may serve classrooms with children in the higher grades with some adaptations. Early learners may be presented with ready made boxes and shown photos of Dr. King with his family, enjoying a show, preaching, and in transit. Talk about the many sides of Dr. King in words and concepts they recognize, for example using the word "daddy", "husband", a "learner" (scholar), a "leader" and a "person with ideas". The singular learning objective here is to demonstrate to very young children how Dr. King may be perceived as an approachable person with hopes, and a family. In other words Dr. King is portrayed as someone who is relatable.

Older children can delve into Dr. King's scholarship, and his writings, his philosophy of "radical love", his defence of universal human rights,  as well as his strong community building skills and how all of these aspects of his personhood merged to create the leader and Dr. King's legacy. This deeper dive can also be facilitated by the box activity with the physical building of the box matched with student-crafted phrases, sentences, or paragraphs delving deeper into these key aspects of Dr. Kings life and represented on each side of every student's box. 

How will you use this activity and craft prompts in your classroom? We would like to hear from you. You can join the discussion here.

Watch & Join

After watching and even using the box making video in class, what prompts might you use with your classroom to talk about the many sides to Dr. King?

Join the conversation here!


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What am I going to Teach about Black History?
By Ashley Causey-Golden