Every year, we spend the last Monday of May commemorating and recognizing the people who have sacrificed for their country while serving in the United States military—those who put their lives on the line, and whose names we should continue to remember, even years later.
Americans often honor this day by visiting cemeteries and memorials, gathering with family for festivities, and participating in parades. Memorial Day dates back to the years following the Civil War, when it was first created as Decoration Day. It was declared an official federal holiday in 1971.
Memorial Day Classroom Activities
You and your students can honor those who died while defending their country. Take a look at the Memorial Day classroom activities below along with the accompanying student handouts. Most of these activities are geared toward elementary and middle school students but can be adapted for various grade levels.
1. Design a Revolutionary War Memorial
Students will create a memorial to honor Revolutionary War soldiers for the National Mall in Washington, D.C. First, tell students they are going to design a memorial to honor the men and women who served in the Revolutionary War. Explain that there are many memorials in our nation's capital that honor presidents and the veterans of wars. (If you like, show students pictures of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Korean War Veterans Memorial.) Point out that there is as yet no memorial to honor the soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War. Ask students what they know about the Revolutionary War. Are there any scenes or moments that they remember that would be good to re-create in the memorial? Are there any people that they think should be included in the memorial? Do they want to focus on famous figures, or do they want to show average people? Finally, give students time to draw a picture of a memorial to honor the soldiers of the Revolutionary War.
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