Bring Veterans Day to Your Classroom
November 9, 2023
Veterans Day is a very unassuming holiday. It doesn’t have the pageantry of Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, but is easily just as important. It’s an opportunity for those of us living in the United States to remember the men and women who have fought and sacrificed for our country’s safety. However, given the shifting seasons and the winter rush, it’s easy for Veterans Day to get overlooked. Educators can help change this.
By celebrating Veterans Day in our schools, educators can teach students valuable lessons about history, geography, world politics, and most of all, character. Here are just a few activities that educators can use to celebrate Veterans Day with their students:
- Veterans Day Read-Aloud: Books are a terrific way to introduce students to the stories and themes of Veterans Day, and luckily, there are plenty of wonderful books to choose from. The Wall by Eve Bunting and Ronald Himler follows a young boy and his father as they visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, while Hero Mom and Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin & Bryan Langdo pay tribute to the many parents currently serving in the military. Use these stories to educate your students about our veterans while also developing their language and vocabulary skills.
- Have a Veteran Come Speak: As VAI Education’s Jamie MacPherson has previously written, meeting a veteran in-person can be a powerful and inspiring experience for young students. Listening to their stories first-hand can do much to broaden a student’s horizon. It can also engender a sense of connection between them – helping both parties gain a better understanding of the sacrifices being made. So, if possible, invite a veteran to come and speak to your classroom. It’s important to teach students to not only have gratitude for these brave men and women, but to find ways to interact with them as well.
- Visit a Local Memorial: Admittedly, this strategy can be a bit tricky. It requires good weather and proximity to a local memorial. However, if possible, it might be worth taking students on a field trip to visit a local plaque, statue, or museum. Before setting out, have your students use safe search websites to research as much as they can about the local memorial. When was it created? Who is it commemorating and what was their role in the conflict? Also, who was the artist who designed the memorial and why were they chosen to create it? Be sure to have students write their thoughts down in reflection journals for later discussion.
- Project-based Learning: Project-based learning can be an effective tool for sparking student curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking. However, most teachers don’t have time to create lessons that integrate content across the curriculum or scour the web for the best online resources. That’s where Blue Apple comes in! Blue Apple’s Valuing our Veterans provides teachers with a collection of free activities to cultivate student growth while honoring veterans from all walks of life. The lessons even have differentiated instruction options by grade bands for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 students. Not only will these activities teach students about the history behind Veterans Day, but it will also encourage them to use their knowledge to make a positive impact.
There has never been a better time to show our appreciation to the brave men and women who have served our country. So, take a few hours this week and celebrate Veterans Day with your classroom, and show them how courage, respect, and selflessness can make a world of difference.