November 11, 2021 | Paula Dicu
What is Veterans’ Day and why do we celebrate it?
November 11 is a day to commemorate all of the military veterans that served during the war.
It was on November 11, 1918, that World War I ended, marking this day as an important anniversary. Previously known as Armistice Day, this federal holiday encourages all Americans to honor the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
But, how can you acknowledge Veterans’ day?
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to teach your students about this historically significant date.
In American schools, students are taught The Pledge of Allegiance, but do they understand the significance of the words that are being shared?
Veterans’ Day means a lot for the nation’s past, present, and future. In order for students to respect and honor this day, they must understand how and why.
The great news is that you can educate students in a way that is unique and memorable. You can incorporate songs, letters, videos, and a number of other fun activities to help facilitate discussions.
You can decide which lessons fit best with your classroom based on the grade level of your students.
For instance, younger students may not know what the word ‘veteran’ means, and so that’s a good place to start. Older students are likely already knowledgeable in that area and could benefit from watching veterans speak about their experiences in the war.
Here are some activities to inspire your students this Veterans’ Day:
- Understanding Veterans’ Day vocabulary
- Create Veterans’ Day crafts
- Writing a letter to a veteran
- Listen to stories from Veterans
- Reading Veterans’ Day poetry aloud
- Take a virtual Veterans’ Day field trip
1. Understanding Veterans’ Day vocabulary
For younger students, you can use part of your lesson plan as an opportunity to learn new vocabulary.
Start by including the word ‘veteran’ on the board, or if you are in a virtual classroom, on the computer.
From there, you can begin exploring American symbols and terminology that relate to a better understanding of this day.
You can include words like heroism, peace, sacrifices, reminisce, military, armed services, infantry, service, dangerous, casualty, gratitude, joyous, emotional, poppy, appreciation, cooperation, freedom, courage, and many others.
Students can work alone or in groups to uncover the definitions for these words.
Another great activity for learning vocabulary is to offer your students a word search. As students find each word, you can continue to discuss its significance in the context of Veterans’ Day.
2. Create Veterans’ Day crafts
Students love crafting and creating! It’s an opportunity to use your hands and creativity to make something unique.
So, why not craft on November 11th?
One idea could be to make poppies! The red poppy is a remembrance symbol of the war, making this a wonderful activity for your class.
Otherwise, we recommend scouring Pinterest for additional ideas, as there are thousands of pre-made templates ready to be cut, colored, and glued together.
Make this experience fully immersive, by playing music and songs that are fitting for the holiday. For instance, you can play military-themed songs, explaining that soldiers used to march to this type of music during parades.
The finished crafts can either be mailed off as a gift to veterans or put up in the classroom for display.
3. Writing a letter to a veteran
Writing a letter is the perfect way to show gratitude and respect for soldiers in your community.
Once students better understand the history behind this day, the letter can be a way for them to interact with the events more personally. It’s an opportunity for them to state how they feel about what they have learned!
Kids will also be learning the value of sharing kind words with others.
Plus, if they have any questions, this is the perfect place to address them.
4. Listen to stories from veterans
This activity can either be done through video or the in-person appearance of a war veteran.
Firstly, videos are always a visually great way to stimulate students and encourage learning.
And what better way to learn about the day than listen to past veterans speak about it? Videos are a great way to for students to learn.
Remember to view the videos first yourself, to note if the specific stories are appropriate for the age range of your students.
But of course, one of the most impactful ways to teach students is by inviting a veteran to speak to the class and share their lived experiences.
This activity is bound to be memorable for everyone, creating a more meaningful connection to Veterans’ Day.
5. Reading Veterans’ Day poetry aloud
Another great way to facilitate discussions and learning is to select a few poems that commemorate veterans.
Students will learn more about the holiday and get to practice reading aloud, expanding their vocabulary in the process.
Here are a few sample poems you can choose from:
- In Flanders Fields by John McCrae
- The War After the War by Debora Greger
- Battleground by William Trowbridge
- Thanks by Yusef Komunyakaa
6. Take a virtual Veterans’ Day field trip
This virtual journey will take the kids through the important monuments of this time.
The tour even comes with lesson plans and activities that you can share with your class, to further the discussions.
Remember to reserve your spot and enjoy this field trip from the comforts of your home!
Commemorating soldiers and members of the military
As a teacher, you have the opportunity to inspire your students.
Your lesson plans don’t have to be dull and boring! Whether you show a video or facilitate a game, educating your students about Veterans’ Day in a way that is memorable is a beautiful endeavor.
Some students may have veterans in their own family, and for those who do not, they have walked away with a better understanding of this significant day, thanks to your teachings.
Most importantly, they have done so in a way they enjoy, that commemorates and shows gratitude to the soldiers and members of the military that were part of the war.