The week before Memorial Day, I always spend some time discussing this symbolic holiday with my students. My mini Memorial Day lesson is simple and yet always makes an impact! The Memorial Day Worksheets available for download are interchangeable and can be used with most American holidays.
Memorial Day Lessons for Elementary Students
To begin, we discuss when Memorial Day became a holiday and when its celebrated each year. During this portion of the lesson I share how Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day, and first occurred following the Civil War. We also briefly explore historical events that led to needing a day of remembrance and what took place in 1971 to move congress to make it a federal holiday. Depending on time, I also like to discuss various countries and the calendar holidays they observe to honor men and women who have served their country.
Next, we discuss why we honor all American servicemen and servicewomen who have died in wars. To help my students understand the significance of honoring the men and women who gave their lives while serving our country, I ask questions like... "What do you think it was like for families who lost their father's during WWII? Considering most women did not have careers or college educations during the 1940s and 1950s, what types of hardships do you think they encountered when they lost husbands?" I typically plan a total of three questions/prompts in advance that get students thinking about the impact of war during different time periods.
During this portion of my Memorial Day lesson I like to pull up on screen (or pass around) pictures of different national monuments or war memorials for students to look at. If working with upper elementary grade levels, I may share images of widows, children, funeral services, soldiers honoring their fallen comrades etc. These images are powerful and spark a lot of great discussions!
Finally, I read aloud books related to the holiday and have students use the Memorial Day Worksheets below to complete a writing activity. Some books that work well for Memorial Day lessons are:
- The Wall by Eve Bunting
- Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood by Valerie Pfundstein
- Don't Forget, God Bless Our Troops by Jill Biden and Raúl Colón
- Hero Mom & Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin
- The Poppy Lady by Barbara Walsh
- H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet by Devin Scillian
How to Use the Memorial Day Worksheets
The Memorial Day Worksheets available for download are interchangeable and can be used with most American holidays. These Memorial Day worksheets can be used separately or together.
The first printable worksheet is a heart decorated to look like a flag. I have used it not only on Memorial Day, but also on Flag Day, Veterans Day, and the 4th of July (when I was teaching summer school). With this template, students can color the flag to be used as a classroom decoration, or they can be given a writing prompt and write their answer within the stripes of the flag.
The second handout included in my Memorial Day Worksheets is the companion template of the heart-shaped flag. If you use these templates together, you will have students first color the heart-shaped flag template and then use the writing lines to write on an assigned topic or based on a sentence starter. Once both are complete, students will cut out their flag and then attach it to their writing piece. I did not include a sentence starter on the download so that you are able to use it for the holiday of your choosing.
Here are a few sentence starters you might like to try with your students, depending on the holiday you are using the template for:
This Memorial Day I will honor those who have died in war by...
These are some important facts I learned about Flag Day...
My favorite part of the 4th of July holiday is...
On Veterans Day, it is important to think about...
Download the Memorial Day Worksheets for your classroom and use them all yearlong to celebrate various holidays and events!