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Veterans Day is one of those national holidays that carries a heavy weight for many of us: those who have loved ones in the military, those who have served themselves, those who have lost, and those who have celebrated the return of the great many men and women who have served our country. For such a significant holiday, it is important that we have ways to commemorate Nov. 11th with our kids, while teaching our young ones just why it is we celebrate.
That's why we have come up with a list of 6 Veterans Day Celebration Ideas to be used at home or in school (plus a sprinkling of Veterans Day fun facts to share with your kids/students!). Veterans Day for 2014 may just be a couple days a way, but that's the joy of a holiday: it comes each year! So, if you like an idea but don't have the time to put it together, consider doing it in 2015.
Plus, you don't really need a special day to show gratitude to our veterans, so consider using these ideas throughout the year!
1) Write Letters to Veterans in Your Community
In School: Have your students spend part of the school day learning about the history of Veterans Day and why we celebrate this important day. Then, have your students write personal thank you letters to any veterans theay may know (grandparents, aunts & uncles, parents, friends of the family, etc). If they don't know any veterans personally, have them write generic thank you letters and then take them to the local VFW.
At Home: Sit down with your child and brainstorm all the different ways to write "thank you" to a veteran. For example, "thank you for serving our country and sacrificing other areas of your life to protect me," or "thank you for supporting our country and being a incredible example of bravery and dedication to kids like me." Then, have your kids write their own letters to a veteran that is close to the family, or a letter that you and your family could personally take to the local VFW.
Did You Know? In Europe, Britain and the Commonwealth countries it is common to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. every November 11th to celebrate the veterans of World War I and II.
2) Take a Trip
In School: Organize a small field trip to a local location that honors veterans, such as the VFW, cemetery, senior center, or historical society. This will make the holiday real for your students and give them the chance to hear from veterans about why they served and why its important that we continue to celebrate each year.
At Home: Travel with your kids to a local site that honors veterans, like the VFW, cemetery, senior center, or historical society. You could also invite a family member who is a veteran over for dinner and have your kids help prepare the meal so they feel like they are doing their part to give back. This will drive home the importance of the holiday for your kids and show them the true reasons behind the celebration.
Did You Know? 1.9 million veterans are under the age of 35!
3) Cook Up an American Flag Pizza
In School: Celebrate Veterans Day in the classroom by cooking up a healthy American Flag Pizza and serving it as a mid-day snack while doing activities and lessons that teach about the history of Veterans Day, such as clips about the World Wars, a fact sheet that the students fill in, or reading together the real-life accounts of some of our service men and women.
At Home: As a healthy after-school snack, cook up this version of pizza with your kids, while talking with them about the importance of this holiday and the different ways you used to celebrate Nov. 11th with your family as a kid.
Did You Know? 5 states have more than 1 million veterans as part of their population: California (2.1 million), Florida (1.7 million), Texas (1.7 million), New York (1 million) and Pennsylvania (1 million).
4) Bake and Deliver
In School: Have your students bake and bring in a batch of red, white and blue cookies (or other patriotic baked good!) and take a short field trip to the local VFW to deliver them. Or, see if a VFW member will visit your classroom for an educational presentation and, afterward, bring out the baked goods for everyone to enjoy during a Q & A session,
At Home: Bake patriotic-themed cookies and package them up for you and your family to deliver to local veterans in the neighborhood. Another idea is to bake these goodies with your kids and then enjoy them while watching an educational video about Veterans Day (we recommend checking out PBS).
Did You Know? 1.8 million veterans are women!
5) Make Coffee Filter Poppies
In School & At Home: While actually a tradition for Memorial Day, wearing poppies is a symbolic recognition of all those service men & women we have lost in the name of protecting our country. However, poppies is also a great way to teach kids about Veterans Day and to honor the troops that never made it home. For this activity, simply take two coffee filters and cover them red, using either paint, crayon, marker, or, the easiest metho: Bingo Markers (the paint seeps into the coffee filter and spreads quickly).
Then, leave them out to dry or, if you're at home, quickly blow dry them. Next, fold the two filters together, and fold in half once more, then draw a heart shape and cut it out. Open the filter into a half (so it looks like a taco shell) then hole punch two holes near the fold. Thread a pipe cleaner through one hole, a button (in the center of the folder filters) and back through the second hold, and then twisted together to create the stem. For more direction (and pictures) check out this great source: How to Make Coffee Filter Poppy.
Did You Know? There are approximately 23.2 million military veterans in the United States.
6) American Flag Arts & Crafts
In School & At Home: There is no better recognized symbol of our country than the good ole' American flag. Get your students and kids involved in celebrating Veterans Day by getting their hands messy and creating something they can be proud of. Options range from popsicle stick American flags to paper chain flags, handprint flags and even an American flag fabric wreath. Check out SheKnows.com (good for Veterans Day & Memorial Day... and 4th of July... and Presidents Day!) for step-by-step guides to creating these crafts and helping kids, young and old, feel that they can honor Veterans by celebrating the great country they have so bravely defended.
All facts gathered from History.com