Each year on the last Monday in May we honor the memory of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Originally known as Decoration Day, a day set aside in 1868 to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.
Our featured book for our Memorial Day studies is The Wall by Eve Bunting. You should be able to find a copy at your library, but you can also view Reading Rainbow’s read-aloud video on YouTube if you can’t access the book. After reading the book, be sure to check out the following resources to boost your lessons:
Memorial Day History
Use the following links to learn more about the history of Memorial Day:
Do you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?
Take an online Memorial Day quiz.
Read about the history of Memorial Day.
Why We Celebrate Memorial Day: A feature from the Smithsonian
View Americans at War, an interactive online exhibition about the cost of freedom
Discover the cost of war.
Listen to Taps and read about its origin.
Activity Books and Printables
Download a free activity book from the USS Arizona Memorial.
This parent and student guide set was created for the Art of the American Soldier gallery at the Constitution Center, but there are some activities that can be used without visiting the Center. Download the Parent Guide and the Student Guide.
Use these Memorial Day printables from Jumpstart for your elementary students.
Print free coloring pages (set of 12).
Learn the emotional power of letters and get some letter-writing tips by reading about letter-writing in World War 2.
Use this crayon resist activity to practice reading common Memorial Day words or words from one of the books from your Memorial Day reading list.
For older students, download activities and insight for In Flanders Fields (this document is written from a Canadian perspective, but the information is valuable no matter where you are located)!
Crafts and Cooking
Make patriotic wreaths or patriotic pinwheels.
Design a handprint/footprint bald eagle and flag painting.
Create painted coffee filter poppy flowers or make them with cupcake liners for a simpler craft.
Make thumbprint poppies with this printable starter sheet – great for including your littles!
Make red, white, and blue popsicles.
Military Museum Virtual Tours
Take a virtual tour of museums:
National Museum of the Marine Corps
National Museum of the US Air Force
National Naval Aviation Museum
National Museum United States Army
Use the following video resources to extend learning:
The history of Memorial Day (from the US Dept of Veteran’s Affairs)
All About the Holidays: Memorial Day
America’s National Holidays (available on Amazon Prime)
Take a small tour of Arlington National Cemetery
View the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery
Watch Voices From the Tomb
Check out Arlington: Field of Honor, a film by National Geographic (currently available on DVD from Netflix)
Additional Library Book Suggestions
In Flanders Fields: The Story of the Poem by John McCrae
Memorial Day: Rookie Read-About Holidays (for young readers)
In Memory of…
I posted this story in our 4th of July post, but I can’t create a Memorial Day post without giving my grandfather another mention. From a humble beginning in dire poverty to later becoming orphaned and separated from his siblings, he rose above his circumstances and eventually dedicated his life to Christ. Later he served our country as a chaplain in the United States Army and earned a Silver Star for risking his life to save fellow soldiers in the Battle of Chosin during the Korean War.
He died on July 4, 1970.
I never met my grandfather because he died before I was born, but my parents did a great job of keeping his memory alive by filling our home with stories and photos of him. I’m so thankful that God’s promise of eternal life to us means that I will be able to meet him one day, and I’m thankful for his service that contributed to the freedoms we enjoy today.
My sweet boys made a video to honor him as a gift to my father on Father’s Day 2016. You can check it out here. The song in the video is one that my grandfather would sing to my dad when he was a child. I hope you enjoy it!