Working daily with students you quickly learn that they love holidays and celebrations, but all too often, they don’t really know what they are celebrating or the origins of the holidays. An important but often less understood holiday for students is Veterans Day. Some students can tell you that it has to do with the military, but most don’t know much more than that. A quick one-minute video that explains the origins of the holiday entitled Veterans Day/All About the Holidays can be used to quickly teach what the holiday is about and spark a discussion with students about people they know and how they can celebrate this day.
Some ideas for engaging students in a celebration of Veterans Day include the following:
- Inviting a veteran from the local community to come in and read a book to students about Veterans Day. They could then answer questions that students have about serving in the military. With so many schools expanding the use of technology in the past few years, you could schedule an online meeting with a veteran for students. Some ideas for questions that students could ask can be found on the Library of Congress website.
- Students could also use Minecraft Education Edition to build a WWI trench online or work together to build one out of Legos or other items for an unplugged version of the activity to experience what soldiers in the past may have had to think about.
- Write a letter or thank you note to a local veterans group.
- Take a virtual tour of a military museum or memorial. The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach has a virtual tour. The National Museum of the United States Army has a number of online exhibits, including a virtual tour of their 9/11 exhibit.
- Livestream the nation’s largest Veterans Day event, The New York Veterans Day Parade, on Friday, from 12:30-3:30. which takes place in NYC.
- Choose a resource from eMediaVA’s Veterans Day collection to discuss and explore the life and role of veterans in the United States.
There are so many resources online that can be used to integrate Veterans Day lessons into our classrooms. I love being able to discuss with students what a veteran is and watching as they realize that they know one or have one in their family. It is always fun to ask students to talk to a veteran they know and come back to share what they learned. This year, don’t miss the opportunity to engage students in celebrating those who have served our nation. Doing this will also work to reinforce to students the importance of one of the 5 C’s–citizenship–and allow them to understand what it means to serve their community and country.
Aubree Mitchell is an eMediaVA Ambassador and a middle school librarian in Halifax County.