Remembering and honoring those who have served to make the world a safer place on Veterans Day should be an important part of the curriculum. Too often though this day of recognition gets lost between the chaos of Halloween and the family celebration of Thanksgiving. Here are some ways to teach about Veterans Day in a meaningful way.
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This is an engaging rhyming picture book for readers of all ages that fosters mindfulness of and appreciation for the brave service men and women who are also our family, friends, and neighbors. These are the men and women who bravely served our country and now humbly serve in our communities. It’s a great reminder that veterans are all around, and are not always visible.
When her father leaves for a year of being at war, Natalie knows that she will miss him. Natalie is proud of her father, but there is nothing to stop her from wishing he was home. Some things do help her feel better. Natalie works with her Nana to send her dad and the other service men and women cookies and treats they have made. Natalie, her mom, and her brother can see and talk to Dad over the computer, and the kindness of friends at school and at church help her feel supported and loved. But there is nothing like the day when her Dad comes home at last.
For many in Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, November 11th is called Armistice Day or Remembrance Day, and the Poppy is a poignant symbol of the First World War. When American soldiers entered World War I, Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia, knew she had to act. Some of the soldiers were her students and friends. Almost single-handedly, Moina worked to establish the red poppy as the symbol to honor and remember soldiers. And she devoted the rest of her life to making sure the symbol would last forever. Thanks to her hard work, that symbol remains strong today.
Inviting current and ex-service personnel to meet with your students
Having military personnel visit your school sends a powerful message to students that the people who have served our country are real people, who went to school, have friends and families and have gone on to be part of the community. Many children will have veterans or active service members in their families who would be willing to share their experiences with students. You will want to prime your students beforehand, brainstorming appropriate questions, e.g.
- Why did you enlist?
- What was your proudest moment?
- Where have you served?
- What did you want to be when you were a child?
- What was the most difficult part of training?
- What things did you like to get sent from home?
- What advice would you give someone who wants to be a marine/solider/SEAL etc?
You are also going to want to touch base with your visitor before they visit, giving them an idea of the questions that the children may ask, and explaining their age/concentration level/excitability etc.
Learn About the Five Branches of the Military
Did you know that Marine Corps has no ships? Or that the Coast Guard was formed before the Navy, but the oldest branch of the military is the Army? Teach your students fun facts or have them research each branch and write about it with this flip-book.
Write ‘Thank You’ letters
Having students write letters to veterans or current service personnel is a great way for them to think about the sacrifices that the military makes for American citizens. Pairing up the letters with these crafts also makes the letters a keepsake. Display the letters and crafts in the hallway before Veterans Day – what a great way to let veterans and serving military personnel know that they are appreciated.
Send a Care Package
Operation Gratitude seeks to lift the spirits and meet the evolving needs of the U.S. Military and First Responder communities, and provide volunteer opportunities for Americans to express their appreciation to all who serve our nation.
Every year, Operation Gratitude sends 300,000+ individually addressed Care Packages to Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen deployed overseas, to their children left behind, and to First Responders, New Recruits, Veterans, Wounded Heroes, and their Care Givers. Each package contains snacks, hygiene products, entertainment, and handmade items, as well as personal letters of support.
Each package contains donated products valued between $45 and $100 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship.
What a great activity to have children partake in as a service project in November when we remember our service men and women, and reflect on what we are thankful for.
Poppies and Armistice Day
This video from the Royal British Legion explains the significance of the poppy and how it came to be the symbol of Remembrance around the world.
This simple poppy craft and writing activity is an effective way for students to reflect on how veterans have impacted the life we live today.
To those that have served, yesterday and today, thank you.