It’s already May - time to start wrapping up the school year, right?!! As you’re planning all of your end of year celebrations and finishing touches, don’t forget that there’s an important holiday to observe with your students. Falling on the last Monday of May each year (in the United States) is Memorial Day. This day, previously called Decoration Day, is set aside to honor the fallen men and women of our military.
As a national holiday, you likely won’t be in school that day, but you can still plan activities for your students in the week leading up to it. Here are a few of my favorite Memorial Day activities for the classroom, including a free printable Memorial Day word search puzzle!
Classroom Read Aloud
I love the picture book The Wall by Eve Bunting and it’s an excellent way to help your students understand the significance of Memorial Day.
This book tells the story of a boy who visits the Vietnam War Memorial with his dad to find the name of his grandfather. During their visit, the young boy meets an injured veteran, sees an elderly couple mourning the loss of a loved one, and a class on a field trip learning about the wall.
Although the boy never met his grandfather, he is able to feel his name on the wall and make a pencil
rubbing of it, connecting in his own way with a man he never knew. Before departing, the boy leaves a picture of himself. He wishes his grandpa was alive, but is proud that his name is on the wall.
This book is wonderful for any age group. The gentle way Eve Bunting presents a sensitive topic is lovely.
Virtual Field Trip
A great free activity for the classroom is the virtual tour of the Vietnam War Memorial. It's a perfect way extend your students' learning after reading the book by Eve Bunting.
Check it out here: Vietnam War Memorial Virtual Tour (Note: I had to turn my ad blocker off for the tour to load in a new window.)
Free Printable Memorial Day Word Search Worksheet
Word search puzzles are an easy way to expose students to holiday related vocabulary words. They also make a fun activity for those little moments in the day when you need students to work on something independently.
This free word search includes 12 Memorial Day-related words to find and is great for primary students (no backward words).
Download your own copy of this free printable word search and answer key by clicking the image. This is a PDF file. Just print and use (personal use only).
Looking for more word search printables with holiday themed words? Check out this complete set that includes 30 major holidays, important days, and seasons: Holiday and Seasonal Word Searches
MILITARY CARE PACKAGE
For me, one of the best ways to honor our fallen veterans is to also honor those currently serving. Sometimes it’s difficult for younger children to understand the meaning of Memorial Day because they haven’t yet lost a loved one. By connecting with overseas military service members and doing something helpful for them, your students will have a better appreciation of the holiday.
A fantastic way to do this is by creating care packages for military personnel!
The U.S. Postal Services offers a FREE Military Care Kit that includes all the boxes, tape, customs form, and labels you need to send several care packages You can get ideas of what to put in the boxes at the Veterans United website. Before sealing them up, have your class add their own drawings and notes. They can even decorate the inside of the box!
I’m sure there are plenty of organizations that coordinate care packages, but I particularly like ones that let you fulfill requests submitted directly by service members. One to check out is anysoldier.com. You can actually click on the menu at the top to switch between anysoldier, anymarine, anysailor, anyairman, or anycoastguardsman if you want to choose which branch to send to. You can view individual requests by clicking on “Where to Send” on the menu at the top of the page and then “Search”.
Your students will love being able to personally help someone in the armed forces and it will really make Memorial Day meaningful for them!
All About Memorial Day Printable Activity
Need another great activity that's
no-prep? This Memorial Day Brochure is an easy way to incorporate the holiday into your lesson plans. Students will read about the history and traditions and learn about some important war memorials. This activity is most appropriate for grade 3 and up.
Click on the image to see more:
I hope these activities help your students understand the importance of Memorial Day and make your lesson planning just a little bit easier!
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