“When I landed in Afghanistan…”
And just like that the realities and sacrifices of our brave troops are made real to children.
Teaching about Veteran’s Day is so important, especially when only a small fraction of our country serves.
Make this day important in your classroom or to your children with these easy tips!
There are tons of resources available to teach about Veteran’s Day. A quick Google search for “Veteran’s Day in the classroom” will yield thousands of results. There are so many free or cheap teaching resources out there. The hard thing is finding enough time to actually use them all!
The NEA has complete lesson plans, printables, and activities that don’t cost a penny. I really like that they are leveled by grade and by subject. This is perfect if you have limited planning time, but still want to do something to mark this day.
I also really like the History Channel. They have a really detailed history of Veteran’s Day, with videos and photos. They also link to other related topics, like WW1 and WW2. This can easily be leveled up or down for age or maturity. As always, prescreen any videos before showing them in class for graphic content or inappropriate material.
For older students, the Library of Congress has an amazing interactive history project that students can help to build. The LOC is fabulous, and also offers lots of free resources for teachers like primary source documents, fully formed lesson plans, and professional development.
Take a Veteran to School
This may seem like a HUGE undertaking, but it really is pretty easy. Almost every community has a VFW post or veteran’s association. Often, contact information can be obtained through a quick online search or by calling city hall. If you live near a military base, you can contact their public affairs office to inquire about community outreach.
Reach out to these groups, and explain what you want: a veteran or veterans of any age to visit your classroom and explain their role in the US military; why they chose to serve; how it affected their lives; how our young people today can help veterans or service members. The visit could include a read-aloud, craft, or presentation by the veteran(s).
The History Channel has a foolproof program that helps teachers and school organize Veteran’s Day events. They offer a How To guide, curriculum connections materials, and other resources. They also allow schools to register their events, and they will send you 30 bracelets!
There are books, poetry, and articles that help students connect to veterans and Veteran’s Day. Any of these can be leveled up or down depending on grade or ability level.
My favorite poem is In Flanders Field by John McCrae. For older students, they can analyze the symbolism and form of the poem. Younger students can simply read and appreciate the beauty and significance of the words. Students of all ages can be briefed on WW1, John McCrae, and why this poem is important.
A good book to read on or around Veteran’s Day is Nubs by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery. It is the true story of a real dog and his person, Major Dennis. I cannot get through this story without crying, both because of the beautiful friendship between Nubs and Major Dennis and the connection that I have to the Marine Corps.
Connect It to Real Life
Military families have a unique opportunity to use their community to help teach non-military folks about the Armed Forces.
For several years now, I have worked with my spouse’s office to arrange for a school visit. Their commanders have always been super willing to let the Marines out of the shop for a few hours, and often send along a few goodies for the kids.
The best way to do this is to bring it up to your spouse, or the Family Readiness Officer if your spouse is deployed. They can let you know who to contact to arrange an official visit to a school, or tell you about other interesting community programs available.
At a time when less than 1% of the US is serving in our all volunteer force, it is important to create connections between the military and civilian communities.