On November 11, we celebrate Veterans Day. It’s our chance to salute veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and to show our appreciation for the sacrifices they have made to protect our country. At first, Veterans Day was initially called Armistice Day, and it became an official U.S. federal holiday in 1938. Later, in 1954, the holiday was renamed Veterans Day. At this time, it became an official holiday honoring all U.S. veterans. Help your students connect with veterans and understand how much we owe them with these five meaningful activities.
Write a Thank You Letter to a Veteran
Communicating through letter writing is a great way to say thank you to men and women who have served our country. This is an opportunity to teach students about gratitude and the importance of giving thanks. Also, according to Operation Gratitude, letters are an extremely cherished item among veterans. Students can write a letter online, and Operation Gratitude will print the message on a postcard and send it. In addition, teachers can sign up for a letter-writing toolkit with Operation Gratitude.
Explore the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Every Veterans Day, there is an official wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. For nearly 100 years, the Tomb has stood at the heart of the cemetery where it serves as a site for reflection on service, valor, and sacrifice. The Education Program of the Arlington National Cemetery has materials you can use to help your students explore the Tomb’s history and meaning. It contains lesson plans, teaching materials, and student activities.
Take a Virtual Field Trip
Help students explore our rich history by taking them on a virtual field trip. There are many museums that can connect students to firsthand experiences of our nation’s heroes. Below are a few resources to check out:
- The National Veterans Memorial Museum will offer a Veterans Day ceremony. The ceremony can be viewed online on Thursday, November 11. Distinguished veterans and guests will share messages of unity in support of our veteran community and ways to promote selfless service in our communities on Veterans Day and every day. More details about the event can be found here.
- Discovery Education is offering the Voices of the U.S., a virtual field trip series that will help teachers and students around the world learn about the importance of service through a celebration of Veterans Day. Created in partnership with Discovery Inc., the Voices of the U.S. virtual experience premieres on Wednesday, November 10 at 1 p.m. EST here. Be sure to register before the event.
- For more virtual field trip options, take a look these TechNotes articles.
Record Video Responses to Historical Prompts
As mentioned in this blog post by Sharon Hall, one of Flipgrid’s partners is the National WWII Museum. The WWII Museum topic area includes prompts that engage students in learning activities related to World War II and Veterans Day. Some activities include responses to video, analysis of primary documents, and exploratory visits to relevant websites. Furthermore, Flipgrid’s Discovery Library contains many other Veterans Day prompts.
Invite a Veteran to Speak to your Students
Having a veteran speak about their experiences can be a wonderful learning opportunity for your students. I still remember the stories my father would tell me about his time in the Army. Ask your students if they have relatives who are veterans. If so, see if they would be willing to speak to the class. Your local veteran’s organization might be able to help also. You can find your local VFW here. Veterans can visit virtually or in person, and after the visit, have your students write some of their takeaways.
How will your classes celebrate Veterans Day? Share your activities in the comments!