“If we are to go forward, we must go back and rediscover those precious values – that all reality hinges on moral foundations.”

– Martin Luther King Jr., Feb. 28, 1954

In the chaos of day-to-day family life, it’s easy to forget the real purpose behind today’s holiday.

Kids get excited about Martin Luther King Day because it’s a day to stay home from school. They don’t understand the reason every federal building shuts down to honor the civil rights leader.

But there are lots of small ways to keep the great man in mind today while teaching valuable moral lessons. Here are some inexpensive or free ways to incorporate Dr. King’s incredible legacy into your day.

• Explore and More Children’s Museum, 300 Gleed St. The museum’s latest exhibit is called “Faces of Buffalo,” which celebrates cultural diversity in Western New York and teaches about identity, diversity and tolerance – main themes in Dr. King’s work.

Drop in for a puppet-making workshop from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today, which ties into the exhibit. Staff will also act out “The Story of Ferdinand,” by Munro Leaf with felt characters and a felt board at 12 p.m., 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., which also touches on themes of peace and tolerance. Admission is $5 for adults and children age 1 and older. Children younger than 1 get in for free.

• Virtually visit the library. Libraries are closed in observance of the holiday, but you can borrow ebooks, download music, stream movies, and search databases free with your library card. In Erie County, go to You can also visit or download the OverDrive Media Console device to borrow books and other digital content from a wide range of public libraries and free sources.

For young ones, try “I Have a Dream,” which pairs words for Dr. King’s famous speech with beautiful paintings by Caldecott medal-winning artist Kadir Nelson. Also available are “Becoming King,” by Troy Jackson, about King’s formative years in Montgomery, Ala., and “April 4, 1968” by Michael Eric Dyson, which examines race in America since King’s death.

• Niagara History Center, 215 Niagara St. in Lockport. A special Martin Luther King program today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. focuses on the history of the Olympics with a special emphasis on the contributions of African-American athletes. The program is open to children from ages 7 to 12. Cost is $10 and includes a snack and admission to the museum’s exhibits, including one focusing on the Civil War. Call 434-7433 to register or for more information.

• Volunteer. Dr. King gave selflessly, so volunteering to be of service to others is a great way to honor his memory. Visit to find ways to get involved or call the service collaborative of Western New York, 418-8500.

• Have a birthday party. The holiday is timed to coincide with King’s birthday, which is Jan. 15. Kids love a birthday party, so it’s a great way to get their attention as you talk together about King’s legacy. Help each other make a cake, sing happy birthday to Dr. King and then blow out the candles together.

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