This day commemorates events and sacrifices we should never forget and patriotism we must remember. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, honors the men and women who died serving in the United State military.
Sometimes students are just interested in a day off from school without understanding this holiday’s significance. That’s why Memorial Day has such potential as a teachable moment. You can develop related activities for art, poetry and even math, but the real lesson is that thousands have given their all so we can be free.
If you have a local veterans group with a speakers’ bureau, consider bringing in a guest speaker. I also have students write cards of thanks to be delivered to these groups, with administrative approval of course.
I try to bring citizenship and the social contract into the lessons. Emphasizing the importance of getting involved and being an active citizen has resulted in some remarkable accomplishments. My students have passed state laws, rewritten the county voting poll rules, and even held candidate nights.
If you want more information on ways to make Memorial Day memorable, just check out these links. And you can always email me through the site.
Alan Haskvitz teaches at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, California, and makes staff development presentations nationwide. He serves as an educational consultant, curriculum developer and author.