If you are looking for a meaningful way for your students to honor our military veterans, this post is for you. While it is important for our students to learn about the history and purpose behind Veterans Day (Armistice Day), I also believe that our students can apply what they learn through community service opportunities.
The Benefit of Community Service Learning
One of the Six Proven Practices of Effective Civic Learning is "providing our students with opportunities to apply what they learn through performing community service." One of the ways that we can honor our military veterans is by showing appreciation and thanks.
Move Beyond Learning about Veterans Day to Participating in the Holiday
A thank you card can go a long way. Taking the time to write a note of appreciation that can be handed to a veteran is one way that our students can get involved on Veterans Day. The cards that our students write can be delivered to military family and friends, delivered to a local Veterans Center, or even hand-delivered. Either way, taking time to show our appreciation and thanks is one way to move from just learning about Veterans Day to actually participate in the holiday.
Visit Local Assisted Living or Veterans Center
Over the past few years, I have arranged a field trip for my students to deliver thank you cards to local veterans. We visited a local assisted living where my students were able to hand deliver cards of appreciation to veterans in our community. My students were able to sit with those that served and learn about their military journey.
Some veterans were brought to tears as they remembered their friends or time overseas. We were amazed when one of our new veteran friends demonstrated his ability to do jumping jacks at the age of 90! In all cases, the veterans we met were so gracious and thankful that our youth took the time to honor and thank them for their service. And my students came away talking non-stop about the individuals they interacted with that day.
These Lessons are Not Learned in a Textbook
Yes, this took a bit of time and energy to arrange, but these are the lessons that cannot be learned through a textbook. Let me just say, that every time I called our local assisted living to coordinate this field trip, the Activities Coordinator was beyond excited for this visit. It is worth organizing.
Other Ways to Participate
Even if you don't have time to arrange for a full field trip, you can always have your students make cards. Drop off the cards at the front desk of your local assisted living or Veterans Center or send them with the Honor Flight to be handed out to veterans. You can also have students work together in groups to make large posters to be hung and displayed at a local assisted living or Veterans Center.
To save you time, I've created a set of Free Thank You Cards that you can download and print. Print double-sided (flip on the short side) to create a foldable card. I've included double and single-line options to meet the needs of your students. You can download the free cards here: Free Veterans Day Thank You Cards
One teacher shared with me that her student used the cards to write a Veteran's Day message to his neighbor. The neighbor felt honored to receive the recognition for his service, and her student was thrilled when he received a letter in return.
Another teacher shared with me they used these cards to send letters to veterans in the hospital. Another shared with me that they used the cards to send to Honor Flight veterans.
Additional Cross-Curricular Activities
If you are looking for additional activities, check out my Veterans Day Unit. This resource includes an overview of the 5 branches of the military, engaging literacy center activities, worksheets, writing activities, and more.
Check out the resources mentioned in this post here: