Memorial Day blends sadness with gratitude as we remember those who died in the service of our country. Unlike Veterans’ Day, which honors the soldiers who served and returned, Memorial Day recognizes those who gave up their lives fighting for freedom. Keeping Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day straight is difficult for kids, but doing activities and writing about the day will help them understand its meaning.
Step 1. Adopt a Soldier
About a week before Memorial Day, choose a soldier to remember. Perhaps there is someone in your family who gave his or her life while serving in the armed forces, or perhaps you know of a family friend or a neighbor who lost a loved one in war. If possible, choose someone whose grave is in your area, so that you and your children can visit briefly as part of your Memorial Day project.
Step 2. Do Some Research
Once you have chosen a soldier to remember, it’s time to do some research about him or her. The individual’s birth date, date of death, hometown, place of service, and other details are all helpful pieces of information that you can find out online or from the soldier’s family members. Learning a little bit about the soldier will make him more real to your children and deepen the meaning of his sacrifice. While they research, kids can take notes using this graphic organizer.
Step 3. Write About It
Younger children can write a few sentences about what they have learned, in the form of a short narrative or a timeline. Visual learners may enjoy drawing some illustrations to go with the written part. Older kids can turn their research into an essay about Memorial Day or the price of freedom; or they could design a timeline with information and illustrations to celebrate the soldier’s life. Posting photos of the project on Facebook, gifting the illustrations to the soldier’s living relatives, or reading the essay aloud to a group of fellow homeschoolers are just a few ways that your children can share their projects.
Step 4. Make a Stars and Stripes Wreath
To adorn your soldier’s grave on Memorial Day, you and your kids can make a red, white, and blue wreath reminiscent of the American flag. You’ll need the following supplies:
- Red, white, and blue bandanas from a dollar store or thrift shop
- A wreath form from a craft store
- Twist ties
- White felt
- A hot-glue gun
Wrap blue bandanas around the left side of the wreath, securing them with twist ties and leaving the ends free. Once you have done about half of the wreath, wrap the remaining portion in alternating red and white bandanas. Cut a couple dozen five-pointed stars from the white felt and hot-glue them onto the blue bandanas.
Step 5. Decorate a Soldier’s Grave
On Memorial Day, take the kids to visit their soldier’s grave. Check with the cemetery to make sure it’s okay for you to leave the wreath at the grave to honor the soldier’s memory.
What other activities have you done to teach your kids the importance of Memorial Day? Share them with me in a comment.
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Rebecca is a work-at-home freelance writer, novelist, wife, and the mom of two bright-eyed little ones. She credits her success in writing and her love of books to her own mom, who homeschooled three kids from pre-K through high school.