Teaching Children About Veterans Day

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Connect With The Children's Prior Knowledge About Veterans

  • Before children can really learn about Veterans Day they need to know what a veteran is. Many of them will have relatives who have served in one of the military services so this should be an easy concept. Explain that there are around 25 million American veterans alive today. Tell the children that because veterans have given several years of their life to serve our country, we celebrate November 11th every year to honor and thank them. Use a calendar to figure out on which day of the week the next Veterans Day will occur.

Explain the History of the Veterans Day Holiday

  • Veterans Day has only been celebrated as a national holiday since the end of World War I, when President Woodrow Wilson established November 12th as Armistice Day. This day was set apart specifically to honor the veterans of the first World War and became an annual holiday in 1938. By the time President Dwight Eisenhower was in office, another war had ended, World War II and the Korean War was in progress. Many Americans felt that the holiday should recognize veterans from all of the wars, not just one. A new law changed the holiday's name to Veterans Day and expanded its meaning to include all the veterans. The date on which the holiday is celebrated was also changed to November 11th.

Involve the Children in an Authentic Veterans Day Learning Experience

  • Besides telling stories of famous veterans, showing pictures of the nation's medals of honor and finding veteran memorials on a map of the United States, there are many meaningful ways to engage children in an authentic celebration of Veterans Day. One of the best ways to find ideas is to go to the Veterans Administration website (see Resources) where teachers can download all kinds of classroom resources and activities. Some of the more child-friendly activities include playing "Taps," making red poppies and participating in parades.

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