Veterans Day is coming up on November 11, and it is a great time for homeschoolers to teach children about the sacrifice of those who have fought or currently fight for America and who serve out of the love for their country. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors American soldiers who died in their service to the nation, Veterans Day is intended to honor all veterans, with a particular focus on those who are still living.
November 11 became a federal holiday in 1938, when it was known as “Armistice Day”, to honor the cessation of World War I. Legislation in June of 1954 under President Eisenhower broadened the focus of the date to honor all veterans, and changed the name of the holiday to “Veterans Day”. In spite of the holiday being switched to October 25 for a few years in the 1970s, November 11th became the official national holiday for Veterans Day when President Ford signed Public Law 94-97 in 1975. Veterans Day has continued to be observed on November 11th since 1978. Click here for more information on the history of Veterans Day.
There are so many ways to help children understand the significance of Veterans Day, and the importance of those who have fought and died for America, as well as those who currently serve to protect our nation. There are wonderful ideas and resources on the Internet to help make the most of this day, and to inculcate a sense of gratitude and patriotism in students. Try out some of these ideas to make this Veterans Day a meaningful and educational experience for your children:
1. Make the day educational.
- High school & middle school
- History.com gives some excellent background for the holiday. Also check out Knowledge House for more information.
- VA Kids offers a variety of information about veterans, including stories, medals, famous veterans, and memorials for grades 6-12.
- Infoplease.com lists the last living veterans from many of America’s wars.
- Americanfamilytraditions.com lists each war in America’s history along with the number of people serving, number of wounded, and number of deaths from each.
- Have students create their own newspaper of events detailing information about each of America’s wars. Click here for more info.
- Test students’ knowledge of Veterans Day with this online quiz.
- Do a VETERAN acrostic poem. Click here to print out the template.
- Have the student investigate the history of veterans within his/her own family. Click here for information on how to trace ancestors in the military. Then put this information, along with photos of each veteran, into a family tree. Click here for a lesson plan entitled “Veterans In My Family”. Click here for a variety of family tree forms, including family timelines, family research logs and more! Or click here for lots of great family tree charts and templates.
- Click here to learn about the Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Includes a video with a succinct and interesting explanation of Veterans Day.
- Participate in the Veterans History Project. This project, developed in 2000 by the Library of Congress, seeks to preserve the experiences and stories of American war veterans for future generations. Students in the 10th grade and above are eligible to participate in the project by interviewing a veteran and sending the collected information to the Library of Congress. Click here for more information.
- Have students learn vocabulary related to Veterans Day. Click here for vocabulary words and definitions, or find Veterans Day vocabulary words in this word search. After the student learns the vocabulary terms, have him complete an online quiz using the Veterans Day words.
- Click here for Veterans Day themed lined paper for journaling, notebooking, etc.
- Elementary School
- Sunniebunniezz.com gives a very brief history of Veterans Day for younger children. Another slightly longer explanation can be found at theholidayzone.com. Find some Fast Facts on Veterans Day here.
- For a wonderful printable book explaining about Veterans Day and the branches of the military for beginning readers, click here. Click here for a similar printable book for fluent readers.
- Print out a mini book based on the poem “In Flander’s Fields” by John McCrae (the poem from which the poppy became associated with honoring veterans). For more information on the history of this poem, click here.
- Read The Wall by Eva Bunting, a story about a father and son who visit the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in an effort to find the child’s grandfather’s name. Click here for a lesson plan related to this book.
- Test students’ knowledge of the words to the Star Spangled Banner with this online fill-in-the-gap exercise.
- Learn about stories of real veterans. Visit World War II, An American Scrapbook to read stories put together by students as told to them by their veteran family members.
- Build a wall of peace. Students write the answers to questions about Veterans Day, peace, and patriotism and write the answers on paper bricks, which are then used to construct a wall. Click here for the lesson plan.
- To try a Veterans Day anagram, click here
- Work on this American flag interactive puzzle.
- DLTK offers a simple Veterans Day word search. Click here.
2. Make the day a service to others.
- All grades
- Visit a veteran. Check with family members, neighbors, your church, or a local nursing home to spend time getting to know someone who has served our country. Click here to find a veterans’ hospital near you. Bring each veteran flowers.
- Have children make a card or a certificate for the vet that appreciates him for his service. Click here for free custom printable greeting cards. Click here to create a custom certificate. When the child presents the card to the veteran, she can ask him questions to find out more about his experiences.
- Have each student prepare a list of questions for the veteran, and conduct an interview about his experiences. Afterwards the student can write a report on the veteran’s experiences, and give a copy to the vet himself. Click here for some sample questions and interview tips.
- Volunteer. Click here for a list of seven places to find volunteer opportunities for serving veterans. By getting kids actively involved in doing a service project for veterans, they will not only be actively paying soldiers back for their service, but will learn responsibility and citizenship at the same time.
3. Make the day fun.
- High School & middle school
- Make a paper wind streamer. Click here for details.
- Construct a crepe paper flag. Click here for details.
- Make a patriotic plant pot. This craft can work for younger students as well. Plant a flower in it and give to a veteran to show appreciation for his/her service. Click here for details.
- Create a patriotic pinwheel. Also appropriate for older elementary school children. Click here for details.
- Make some Veterans Day pins to either wear or give out to veterans. Click here for details. Or click here to make a patriotic angel pin. Another variation is this pride pin.
- Elementary school
- Click here or here for some Veterans Day coloring pages. Even more coloring pages can be found here.
- Make a handprint American flag. Click here for details.
- Create your own medal online and print it out. Click here for details.
- Paint a patriotic rock. Can be used as a paperweight or decoration. Click here for details.
- Have children show their patriotism with Veterans Day door hangers. Click here for details.
- Make soldier paper dolls and dress them in camouflage clothing. Click here to either print the dolls and clothing out yourself, or purchase dolls out of cardstock or foam.
- Although traditionally the symbol for Memorial Day to honor fallen veterans, the poppy is also associated with Veterans Day. Click here for instructions on how to make a fingerprint poppy wreath.