The last of the school year holidays comes on a Monday at the end of May. After this holiday you might as well forget getting kids to concentrate since the pools open that weekend and it seems more like summer than school time. But learning about Memorial Day is important and is a very natural way to teach your child about this country’s great heritage. If you are wondering how to teach your child about Memorial Day, we’ve put together a list of Memorial Day teaching activities to help.
What is Memorial Day About?
Most of us know that this holiday marks the weekend that pools open across the United States, grills get dusted off and fired up, and families gather for picnics and sunshine. But I’d venture to guess that very few know what is actually being celebrated. Memorial Day is a precious holiday all about remembering and honoring the men and women who have died while serving in the military.
What is the meaning of Memorial Day?
This day, originally called “Decoration Day”, is not intended to be a happy party at all, but instead a somber reflection on the sacrifices made for our freedom.
Why is Memorial Day celebrated?
The holiday itself began as a way to pay our respects for all of the men and women who have died in battle defending our freedoms. Parades, speeches and concerts honoring the fallen mark this holiday.
What day does Memorial Day fall on?
In the United States, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday of May. It is a Federal holiday, so all Federal employs including military members are given the day off. Mail is not delivered on Memorial Day. If you have trash pick up on Mondays at your house, you should check to see whether it will happen on Memorial Day or not. Other countries have similar holidays such as Remembrance Day.
What is the difference between Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day?
Most people find the difference between these two holidays to be pretty murky, but there is actually a distinct and easy difference. Memorial Day is all about honoring the dead. Veteran’s Day is all about honoring the living.
Why is Memorial Day Important?
As a country, we have begun to trivialize our freedoms. We aren’t raising up a generation ready to protect those freedoms with our lives. Children scoff at the name “America”, and adults burn businesses to the ground. Politicians give away millions of dollars to buy votes, remain in power and force the inflation they need to line their own pocketbooks. We praise Communism and Socialism in the media. Do we realize the sacrifices of all previous generations to keep this country free can be thrown out the window in a blink?
“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”Ronald Reagan
Memorial Day is an opportunity to talk about a freedom so precious, generation after generation has valued it enough to give their very lives. Use the resources in this post to put together your own Memorial Day lesson plans and teach your child about this important holiday.
Memorial Day Resources
If you want to teach your child about Memorial Day, begin by reading books or studying the information found on these pages together. Depending on your child’s age, you can allow students to do the work themselves, or read aloud to them from these Memorial Day resources.
Books for Memorial Day
The Wall by Eve Bunting. Ponder the significance of a wall built to honor the dead.
The Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to Veterans by Barbara E. Walsh. A very special lady who taught us how to honor others by her simple action.
Let’s Celebrate Memorial Day by Barbara deRubertis. Newly independent readers can learn all about the holiday from this simple book.
Rolling Thunder by Kate Messner. Learn about a very special Memorial Day tradition at the Nation’s capitol.
America’s White Table by Margot Theis Raven. Explore the significance of setting a place at the table for fallen heroes.
Twenty-One Steps: Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Jeff Gottesfeld. Learn the story of the Tomb Guards at Arlington National Cemetery and that of those they honor.
Arlington: The Story of Our Nation’s Cemetery by Chris Demarest. Learn about one of the nation’s most famous and most visited national monuments.
Online Resources for the Holiday
While Kids Connect does have worksheets for sale, it also has a nice summary about the holiday and facts you can read out loud to your kids. You will find this information about halfway down the page.
Kids Play and Create also has a great explanation for kids about Why We Celebrate Memorial Day.
Older students will enjoy this article The First Decoration Day from Zinne Project.
Memorial Day Worksheets
Penmanship Worksheet for Memorial Day from SteamSational.
Free Memorial Day Handwriting Worksheet from Quilting Gossip.
Here’s a really nice freebie worksheet on Teachers Pay Teachers from Empowered by Them.
Memorial Day Activities for Students
Memorial Day Online Activities
An interactive Memorial from the New York Times: Faces Of The Dead
Watch a slideshow showing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Memorial Day Middle School Activities
Check out Larry Ferlazo’s list of websites to learn about Memorial Day. It’s a great list!
You’ll find some excellent ways to pay your respects on Memorial Day in this post from House of Hendrix.
Mrs. Navy Mama also has some ways for students to honor the fallen on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day Activities for Elementary Students
Use this fantastic Memorial Day Sand Play Activity to teach your child about the Memorial Day. From There’s Just One Mommy Blog.
Make a Poppy Craft from The Preschool Toolbox Blog.
You’ll find lots of great ideas from this Memorial Day Activities post from Every Star is Different.
Memorial Day Video for Students
Watch this video collage of images of the fallen set to Amazing Grace played by bagpipes.
Learn all about the holiday with this video made for kids to explain Memorial Day.
Memorial Day Lesson Plans Done For You
Sometimes pulling together your own plan is not gonna happen, and when you are in that place done-for-you lesson plans are a lifesaver! We love the Memorial Day Unit Study by Amanda Bennett found in Patriotic Holidays. It has all of the ideas you need to teach your students of all ages about this U.S. holiday. It also includes week-long unit studies for Flag Day, Independence Day, and Veterans Day.