Our (USA) military has played a major role all over the world; how do we teach our children about the personal sacrafice's that many of them have made for us? How do we get them to understand that the freedoms they enjoy are made possible because others have given up theirs for them? How do we get our children to truly celebrate Veteran's Day?
At my children's school, they combine Veterans Day celebrations with Grandparents Day. They find that there are usually many veterans among the grandparents that visit school on that day, and they ask them to share a bit of their personal experience with students to give them a very personal view of what it means to be a veteran.
We do encourage our teachers to provide an activity in their classrooms for students to understand the reason for the freedoms we have and the sacrifices of our veterans and their families. I always try to provid our teachers with some suggested activities from which to choose. Several of our schools have programs celebrating and or recognizing local veterans. Veterans are invited to share and speak with the group. Some schools have a special luncheon with the vets.
ReadWriteThink has some lesson plans that focus directly on veterans:
I also like the online materials from the Veterans History Project, a collection of interviews and documentary materials highlighting veterans' experiences over much of the 20th century. Reading or viewing first-person interviews like those on the site really bring out the individual sacrifices that veterans have made. Students might interview some local veterans after exploring the site to increase their personal understanding.
Oops. I just found another resource to share. This month's Chatting About Books podcast focuses on "Honoring Veterans Day" so it's full of books that are perfect for elementary level readers like Patrol: An American Soldier in Vietnam by Walter Dean Myers.
Thinkfinity has a web page devoted to resources devoted to the U.S. Military. These resources may help your students understand the sacrifices Americans have made in defending the freedoms we enjoy today. Also there is a discussion in the group History Explorers about Veterans Day--Re: How do you address Veterans Day in your classroom?
I also suggest you check out the discussion Re: Will 11-11-11 be significantly insignificant? It would be interesting to know your thoughts about this subject. This question also might be a good one to ask your students to hear their thoughts on the idea of 11-11-11.
From the responses you have received to your question in the Community, have you decided on any specific resources to use in preparing your Veterans Day lesson?
Today in my second classroom we had a discussion, where students were able to share what they knew about veterans. Some students had more knowledge than others because they had great grandparents who have fought in wars. Following the discussion, be talked about the fact that everyday, men and women are overseas fighting to protect our country and our freedoms. We then wrote letters, which we will now send to active military, thanking them for their service, sacrifice and bravery.
What a nice idea! The men overseas love getting mail from the kids. Do you have many students with parents in the military? I live in Colorado Springs and there is Fort Carson Army Base, Peterson Air Force Base, the Air Force Academy, Cheyenne Mountain where they track the satellites, and another base a short distance away.
There are troops arriving home every week and troops leaving for their third and fourth tours. The children in this area have fears and loss to face daily. I saw a child playing in the yard with a full-sized, cardboard photo of his father watching over him. I thought that rather sad but certainly that mother and many others are doing their best to keep their father in their children's lives.
Oh my goodness Jane! What a heartbreaking story, but on the flip side a nice idea for the child. Thank you for sharing your stories with me. I do have a student who has an uncle away in the military. We are sending the letters to him and his division. The children in your area are certainly faced with the reality of war everyday...I will keep them and all the families in my thoughts.
Being a US Army war veteran, I have had a chance to observe a different angle and perspective to those learning about the sacrafices our Military members make for them; this is especially significant in the younger generations from Kindergarten through High School.
An important tool for helping someone (not directly affected or faced with the situation) to understand a feeling or significant meaning, is for them to contribute, participate, or involve them in a way that they are able to emotionally connect-preferably in a positive manner.
One method succesfully used throughout times of war and conflict is care packages, cards, videos, and any other small token of sentiment made and sent by students and children to service members all around the world. This activity not only helped the soldiers' moral but made the students feel important and involved in the greater good; thus inspiring and motivating them to learn more and grow appreciation for the Service members and what they stand for and what they are making sacrafices for.
Furthermore, it was even more inspiring when the children recieved letters or videos, etc, in return that the service members sent as an extention of appreciation and "honor" to be thought of by the children while away.
This action and returned connection and gratitude can be extended and experienced deeper when they meet service members in class visits or attend a military unit location and see the service members at work, with their families, and even engage in activities such as games and "pin-pal" exchanges.
The service member at this point is better understood by the children/child and even befriended, which allows an emotional connection and bond to form by the child resullting in a firm understanding, appreciation, and dedication to the greater cause they now know of and share with thier "friend".