Veterans Day is an opportunity to honor and give thanks to those who have served or are serving in the military. Sandwiched between the excitement of Halloween and Thanksgiving, this day can sometimes go unnoticed by kids, but I am trying to help my girls understand its significance. There are some very simple and age-appropriate ways we can teach young kids to show respect and appreciation to veterans. Here are some ideas.
Talk with Kids About Veterans
Help kids understand who veterans are. Adults often describe veterans as soldiers, people who wear uniforms, and live on military bases. Of course, these things are true, but they can be very abstract for kids who aren’t familiar with military families. And it is likely that kids encounter many veterans on a regular basis; they just might not realize it.
Last year I was so moved by a Veterans Day speech given by a friend and coworker. She is now a kindergarten teacher, and nobody would guess she was a veteran or the memories she carries with her if they didn’t know her personally. She reminded all of the kids at our school that veterans are everywhere. They are our teachers, custodians, postal workers, doctors, and store clerks. And we can thank them personally on Veterans Day and every day for their service to our country.
You might consider talking with your kids about:
- People they know who are veterans (family, friends, school staff, church members, etc)
- The job of a soldier (what it’s like to be a soldier)
- Things soldiers sacrifice to keep our country free (family time, holidays, special events with their children, personal safety)
- Freedoms that we have as Americans
Say Thank You
Be a model for your children. When you see a veteran, simply say, “Thank you.” Our kids learn from us. Talk with them about why you say thank you to the soldier at the grocery store and the soldier you pass in the airport. It is such a simple act of gratitude, but it means a lot.
Make a Card or Baked Goods for a Veteran
Kids can also make cards to say thank you to veterans they know. Even pre-writers can make a simple card with sticky foam letters or by simply coloring a background that an adult can write on. If you live close to a veteran, you could even help your child make some cookies or another treat to deliver.
Attend a Ceremony or Parade
Many cities or schools host Veterans Day ceremonies or parades. Check your local community calendars to find out which ones might be best to take your kids to. We are looking forward to attending the Veterans Ceremony in our local area this weekend.
Support a Soldier
Soldier’s Angels is one organization dedicated to supporting soldiers. There are many opportunities to get involved, including sending cards, care packages, and more.
You can also contact a local organization to ask about helping veterans in your own community. The Military Wife and Mom shares a list of items you might consider adding to a care package.
Learn a Veterans Day Song or Poem
Songs for Teaching has a long list of songs to choose from.
Apples 4 the Teacher shares some poetry and rhymes.
Your kids might also like to draw a picture to go along with the song or poem you are learning together.
Read a picture book about veterans or visit one of the websites below with your child. We enjoyed reading these books this week.
Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin
H Is for Honor: A Millitary Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian
Kids Thank a Vet includes many resources to help kids learn more about veterans. There are pictures of famous veterans, book lists, activities, and much more.
More Resources to Explore
Operation We Are Here shares an extensive list of resources including 101 Ways to Thank a Vet.
All About Veterans Day for Kids from Home School Coach includes facts, activities, and suggested books.
At the Home School Mom you will find a lengthy list of PreK-12 resources that you can filter according to your child’s grade level.
You can also find some Veterans Day crafts and free printables on this Pinterest board.
Please let me know in the comments if there are any other ways you and your family honor veterans on Veterans Day, and if you are a veteran, I sincerely thank you for your service and dedication.