5 Ways to Make Veterans Day Count for Kids
Every year on November 11th, the United States celebrates Veterans Day. Yes, schools are closed and the government is closed as well. What if you and your kids made that day really meaningful? It doesn’t just have to be a day for running extra errands. It could be a fun day where you can all learn a little about the heroes who served our country and celebrate those amazing men and women together. Here are 5 ideas to help you make Veterans Day count for kids.
1. Teach Your Kids About Our Military
You can start your kids off at a young age to respect and honor our veterans and military. Get ready for Veterans Day with some books, activities and projects that center around the US military. Here is a great nonfiction book to read, Veterans Day by Rebecca Rissman.
Here are several books that toddlers and young children will learn from and enjoy reading.
- Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin
- Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
- Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood by Valerie Pfundstein
For older kids, try the What Was series to learn about battles and historical figures in our nation’s history.
- What Was D Day? by Patricia Brennan Demuth
- What Was Pearl Harbor? by Patricia Brennan Demuth
- What Was the Battle of Gettysburg? by Jim O’Connor
If you have high school aged kids, try these books.
- No Better Friend by Robert Weintraub
- The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw
- United States Army: The Definitive Illustrated History by D.M. Giangreco
2. Attend an Event that Honor Veterans Together
Taking your child to a special event on Veterans Day is an excellent way to make Veterans Day fun and meaningful at the same time. Parades are a very popular event to commemorate this holiday and most kids love parades! Check your local news for a parade near you or you can check out this online parade directory. A Veterans Day parade will allow your child to experience veteran’s organizations, military style marching, honor and color guards and marching bands playing military music.
3. Donate to a Veteran’s Organization
Show your child that Veterans matter by giving to a Veterans organization together. So many veterans are in need for many different reasons. Unemployment of veterans is higher than other groups, as well as mental and physical disabilities. Homelessness of veterans is also a huge problem. In fact, veterans account for about 12 percent of the homeless population in the United States. Before Veterans Day arrives, give your child a special task or project to complete to earn a set amount of money to donate to a Veterans organization. If you have already been learning about our military with your child, he should get excited to be able to give to real life heroes and will enjoy earning the money himself. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money. Five dollars is appropriate for a very young child. If your child is old enough, think about a way to raise money together. He may have some old toys or video games he can sell or he may want to ask the neighbors if he can cut their lawns or rake leaves for money to donate to help veterans. Use this important holiday to show your kids, whatever age, to care for and give to others in need.
4. Do Something Kind for a Veteran in Your Life
According to the US Census Bureau, as of 2014 there were 21.8 million veterans of the US Armed Forces. To really make the meaning of this day come to life for your kids, make the day special for a veteran or veterans in your community. If you or your spouse served in the military or is currently serving, let your kids honor their hero mom or dad. Treat it like the holiday it is. Decorate the house. Fix your hero parent their favorite meal. Let your kids pick something special they want to do with their hero. You can do similar things for any veteran in your family.
If you do not have a veteran in your family, ask around and find a veteran in your community. Make handmade cards to give out at your local VA hospital. Take some cookies to the veterans in a nursing home near you. Organize a group visit to the VA hospital to sing patriotic songs. The point of this is to let your child celebrate veterans and thank them personally.
5. Encounter a Place Connected with Veterans’ and Military History
Go on a Veterans Day field trip and explore some real life history. Kids understand and remember things more fully when they experience them first hand. There are lots of battlefields all over the United States to visit. Here is a directory of Revolutionary War sites and museums. You can also use this interactive guide from the National Parks Service to plan a trip to “tour The Revolution”. Here is a directory of Civil War Battles. There are 164 ships in the United States that you can visit! Find one here and go explore. You can check out a military museum or a military exhibit in a history museum. If you can make it to Washington DC, you must take your kids to Arlington National Cemetery. The Cemetery is beautiful and there is nothing like seeing it in person if you want to begin to grasp how many Americans have served our country. Visit anywhere you think will take the idea of military service, veterans and their sacrifice out of the abstract for your kids and into something they can begin to understand and be in awe of.
By making Veterans Day meaningful for you and your kids, you will teach your kids how to honor others. Your kids will learn to look up to and value those in our society really worthy of such feelings, not just random celebrities who may not actually make the world a better place. Your child will become better at exhibiting empathy when he is given the guidance and opportunity to care for and respect others. Americans should be proud of those who serve and we need to do better at caring for our heroes when they are home and need our help. Perhaps the culture around veteran care and benefits will improve if we teach our children the incredible value of what our men and women in uniform have done and continue to do for us.
Photo Credits: The Memoirs of Megan, St. John Photography, Stephanie
Sources: Veterans Day Data Boot Camp – U.S. News & World Report
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