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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Honoring Our Military: Tips for Teaching Children about Veterans Day

Each year on November 11th Veterans Day is celebrated. School children learn that Veterans Day is a special holiday set aside to honor veterans and their military service to the country. In order to help children understand the honor and reverence due to our military, it’s ideal to include children in school and community observances and to teach them how they can honor the nation’s service men and women too.

Celebrate with Pins

Handing out special tokens can remind children of the importance of Veterans Day. Military pins can increase awareness of this special day, for example, and showcase the insignia of the various military branches. Small tokens can make big statements. Entire classrooms and schools that demonstrate their respect for the military with a special pin that makes that grand statement and teaches kids the importance of paying homage to the nation’s heroes and heroines.

Honoring the Flag

The flag plays a vital role in any Veterans Day celebration. Many schools take time to explain the value of the flag as a symbol of the nation’s pride. Both older and younger children can take part in crafts that celebrate the flag and all its glory. Young children might make a classroom flag using fingerprints to construct a flag picture using their hand prints. Older children might make a classroom of collages that find online of photographs of soldiers sporting the flag. There are many famous flag photographs that could be used to create a special Veterans Day display.

Special Invitations

Inviting veterans to speak at school assemblies is a time-honored tradition. While many veterans often come prepared with speeches geared for children to discuss their role in the military, nearly all are delighted to answer children’s questions which are frequently quite profound. Many schools honor veterans in the community as well as veterans who are relatives of the students themselves. These events might be as formal as ceremonial occasions or as informal as a classroom discussion. Other programs like Take a Veteran to School are particularly popular for celebrating Veterans Day.

Send a Care Package to Soldiers

A great way to honor veterans who served in the military is to help support today’s soldiers. Invite students to put together care packages to send to current military personnel. Items like books, magazines, and even snacks are luxuries for soldiers who are serving in far-flung locations. Aside from items, soldiers also appreciate letters from their fellow countrymen--even students who simply want to demonstrate their appreciation for the service of our military’s men and women.

Other Ideas

Many schools plan special assemblies for Veterans Day. School bands perform patriotic songs while other students might recite patriotic poetry or read letters from celebrated military leaders. Students might also create artwork that honors veterans of various wars and showcase them throughout the school’s hallways. Encouraging children to wear red, white, and blue can also strengthen any school’s Veterans Day celebration. By teaching children about Veterans Day and also inviting them to partake in the planning of the celebratory events, they learn to value the service of others and to take pride in the national identity we share.

Melissa Rudd is a retired elementary history teacher. She likes to spend her days blogging about education and childhood development on a variety of blog sites.

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