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Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives:
Lessons for Memorial Day

 What does Memorial Day mean to your students? Do they grasp the significance -- or the sheer number -- of American men and women who have died serving their country so the rest of us might enjoy freedom? Included: Five lessons help students understand the meaning of Memorial Day -- plus links to more than 2 dozen more lessons!

The first official Memorial Day celebration was held in the United States in May 1868. On that day, which was then called Decoration Day, people remembered the war dead by decorating their graves with flowers.


To learn more about the history of Memorial Day, see Memorial Day History.


Today, we still take time to honor those who serve and have served, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. But do your students understand the true significance of the day? In order to help them put Memorial Day in perspective, Education World editors offer...



Education World provides five lessons to help students learn about the purpose and significance of Memorial Day. Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Memorial Day Shoebox Parade
Create a timeline of U.S. conflict and a Memorial Day Shoebox Parade to commemorate soldiers who fought for freedom. (Grades 3-12)

Mapping Your State's Role in the Vietnam War
Teach the significance of Memorial Day by creating a map showing the hometowns of your state's Vietnam War dead. A stunning visual reminder! (Grades 2-12)

The Wall Inspires Letters to Veterans
Eve Bunting's moving book, The Wall, inspires students to write letters to veterans at local veterans' hospitals. (Grades K-12)

Memorial Day: Graphing Our History of Sacrifice
Learn about the significance of Memorial Day by using an online graphing tool to graph America's war history. (Grades 3-12)

Thinking About Our Troops
A handful of ways for kids to connect with America's soldiers serving around the globe. (Grade K-12)

More Memorial Day Lessons


* Don't miss more lesson activities from Education World in our Memorial Day Archive.

* Organizers of the Veterans History Project are collecting and preserving "audio- and video-taped oral histories, along with documentary materials such as letters, diaries, maps, photographs, and home movies, of America's war veterans and those who served in support of them." Project organizers invite middle and high school teachers and their students to participate.

* How about designing your own Memorial Day WebQuest? Arrange students into groups. Each group will take responsibility for part of a Memorial Day program. Separate groups could handle music, a Memorial Day speech, arranging for special guests, and a poetry reading. Individual students might take responsibility for the opening prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the playing of Taps.

* Still looking for ideas? While searching the Net we found many. Click here for more than 2 dozen additional lesson ideas.


Last updated on 05/23/2017