How to Make Veterans Day More Meaningful for Younger Students
Veterans Day Activities for Kids:
The Veterans Day holiday is quickly approaching. I know that you may be wondering how you are going to tech your younger students about this beautiful holiday. I was wondering the same thing a few weeks ago. At our school, we have a parade to honor our local Veterans. In years past, we would host the parade outside on our school’s bus loop. I loved this! All of the participating Veterans would line up at the end of the loop and march down to the other end. One year, we had a Bugler salute these amazing American heroes in song. Last year, one of the Hewey helicopters was allowed to land on our playground. Only the upper grade students went outside to view it. We have had wonderful experiences. This year, we have to host the parade inside of the building and the Veterans will walk around the school building.
As we prepare for Veterans Day this year, I am mindful of the fact that younger students, like my First Grade students, participate in these activities, but don’t always have a true understanding of what we are doing. I decided to use these three activities to help students have a deeper understanding of WHY we celebrate Veterans Day and how this beautiful holiday came to be. I love these Veterans Day activities for kids:
Resource #1 Veterans Day Reader for First Grade
Veterans Day activities for kids. It was important to create this Reader so that my First Grade students could have a better understanding of the reason why we celebrate Veterans Day. I didn’t want us to simply stand outside and wave stars or American flags. Students need to know the origin and history of the Veterans Day holiday and about the branches of the Armed Forces that the holiday included. I wanted them to know what patriotism is and the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day. You can watch the live video that I created to see how the Reader might work for you.
The morning of Veterans Day, I play a video of a Bugler playing TAPS at the Arlington National Cemetery. You can share The origin of Taps with your students. I tell my students that this action is in honor of fallen soldiers. We talk about the military’s motto of “no man left behind” and the significance of “brotherhood” in the military. I connect this to character traits and building our classroom community. I also love to play the video of Whitney Houston’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Her performance of the anthem gets me every time. I have to hold back my tears every time I hear it. She belts that song like no other! These are my favorite Veterans Day activities for kids! It just sets the stage for the significance and the emotion of the day.
Resource #2 Stars for our Veterans
Veterans Day activities for kids. Here are the stars that I use with my students. Click on the link above to create your own. Download the file. This step is very important. If you don’t download the file, you won’t be able to edit it. You will need Microsoft PowerPoint to be able to open and edit this file correctly. After the file downloads, click on the link at the bottom of your screen. Select “open”. Then, click on “enable editing”. You will only be able to edit the text. I use words like: hero, brave, perseverance…. You may choose any that you like. Remember that you can select the size of the text and the font that you want to use.
We color the stars in different patterns using red, white, and blue. I also love to add glitter to the stars. I’m not certain that I will do that this year, but it does make the stars pop with color! These stars are one of my favorite Veterans Day activities for kids that my students and I do together. Their passion is so contagious! Seeing them plan their designs and seeing how excited they are to choose a “trait” is heart touching and precious.
Resource #3 White Stars, Blue Skies
The third component of the Veterans Day activities for kids is pictured above. Blue Skies White Stars is gloriously illustrated! Kadir Nelson continues to outdo himself!! Sarvinder Naberhaus authored this book. There are only 2 to 4 words featured on each page, but each phrase is complex in its deep, and double, meaning. You can click here to grab a copy of this beautiful visual depiction of America. If you don’t have time to order it, you can visit your local library or bookstore.
I hope that you found these ideas helpful. Leave a comment to let me know if you try any of these activities. Don’t forget to run your video links through the Safe Share website (safeshare.tv).
Happy Veterans Day!