Honoring Memories: Memorial Day Lesson Plans
Memorial Day lesson plans can help students understand the history of this holiday which honors those who died serving their country.
By Kristen Kindoll
Solemnity is one of the words you can use to describe the feeling that overcomes you when you walk into a cemetery. The ground holds lost loved ones who may be gone, but not forgotten. Many of these sites are also the resting places for men and women who served our country valiantly. The last Monday of May is a day to honor those who fought to protect our rights.
The tradition to honor fallen soldiers began after the Civil War. Waterloo, New York is recognized as the official birth place of Memorial Day. Waterloo was known as a community that observed May 5th as a day to honor lost servicemen. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a proclamation on May 30, 1966 which officially acknowledged Waterloo, New York as being the birthplace of Memorial Day. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Holidays Bill, which specified Monday as the official holiday to create a three day weekend for citizens.
Students can learn about this holiday in a variety of different ways. Teachers can discuss the importance of memorials to soldiers, like the Vietnam Veterans' War Memorial. Students can also discuss what it means to be an American.
The ways people across the country celebrate the holiday may vary, but marking the graves of service men and women is a common practice. A national moment of silence is held at 3:00 PM local time. Picnics are often a way for family and friends to gather together in celebration. Poppies have also become associated with the holiday. The tradition can be seen in the poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
For more memorial day lesson plans and ideas see below.
Memorial Day Lesson Plans:
This lesson is designed for fifth grade and has lesson objectives listed in the beginning, along with corresponding state standards. The book "The Wall" by Eve Bunting is used as an introduction to the subject matter. This is mainly a free-writing exercise.
In this lesson students are given a visual timeline of the various United States conflicts. Students create floats out of shoeboxes to represent soldiers who defended our nation. There are several lesson resources available.
In this lesson students learn about the history of Memorial Day. They create a word web, and write a poem. Using poster paper, students copy and illustrate their poems.
This lesson has students read a poem and work on artwork. There is a specific craft described with instructions on how to create it. There is also a brief description on how and why the tradition of distributing poppies first started.