As we gear up to celebrate veterans and their service to our country, here are some ways you can help make the day engaging and educational for children.

1. Let them hear from veterans.

One way to engage students is by having them get to know some veterans and hear their stories firsthand. Here are five ways to connect your students with veterans.

  • Have Students Interview Them
    Locally, Poquoson City Public Schools had their students adopt veterans, interview them and create written reports or videos about them.

    One student reflected on the experience and said it helped educate her about events in our country’s past. “We got first-hand knowledge of the Vietnam War and the challenges that we don't know today,” she explained. Click the photo below to watch the video.

play emva veterans

  • Explore Family Connections
    Many students in the Hampton Roads area may have veterans or active military members in their families. Ask them to share any first-person stories they have heard about their loved one’s time in the service.

  • Invite a Veteran to Speak
    You could also invite a local veteran to speak to your class. Students of all ages will enjoy asking them questions. Contact a local veteran group to see if they have speakers available.

  • Share a Video
    You can find many videos from veterans online that explore different aspects of their experiences. WHRO Public Media’s Veterans Coming Home series explored the challenges veterans face as they transition to civilian life. Check out our playlist to hear from local vets, as well as the national Veterans Coming Home PBS web series that features veterans from around the nation. Find even more content for your classroom on the Veterans Coming Home website that includes video stories, blog posts and veteran resources.

    eMediaVA, our digital collection of learning assets, also has numerous videos like the two below:

Atomic Bomb - World War II veterans account their experiences with the atomic bomb. Includes video interviews with three veterans and a lesson plan.

The Veterans History ProjectThe Veterans History Project - Discover personal stories of American war veterans and civilian workers who supported them, as recorded in interviews, diaries, letters, photographs, and drawings, provided by the Library of Congress.

  • Incorporate Oral Histories of Veterans
    1,307 Virginians lost their lives in the Vietnam War. WHRO recorded 20 of their stories as part of our work around Ken Burns’ 2017 documentary The Vietnam War. These powerful recordings help keep alive the memories of those who sacrificed for us.

 

2. Get students involved in veteran research.

Explore the Wall of Faces project. -  This virtual Wall of Faces was developed to honor and remember every person whose name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The goal is to find a photo to go with each of the more than 58,000 names on The Wall. See photos for Virginians who are on The Wall 

Interested in having students research veterans who still need a photo? See the list of names, and use these tips to get started.

 

3. Provide fun facts.

 

4. Create a craft.
For younger children, you may want to get more hands-on with a fun craft. Here are a few ideas.

  • Veteran craft with writing prompt - The Making Learning Fun website offers templates for a cut and assemble craft project along with a writing assignment.
  • American Flag craft - With this class craft by I Love That Teaching Idea (see finished project), students can trace their hands on white and red paper with their names and the class can create their own American flag. Students can also write a word that describes a veteran on the hand print to make the craft more personal to Veterans Day.
  • Soldier craft - With just a little prep, you can let students create mini veterans featured on the Fantastic Fun and Learning website to use in story time, act out things they learn in a lesson, or take home as a reminder of veterans who have served our country.
  • American Eagle handprints - Patties Classroom blog offers a print art activity in which students use their handprints to create an American Eagle. She also provides links and suggestions for other activities.
  • Veterans Day printables - Thoughtco.com offers a Veteran’s Day word search, crossword puzzle, vocabulary sheet, door hangers and more.

 

5. Take time to show thanks.
From writing letters or creating cards for veterans, to assembling and shipping care packages for active service members, there are plenty of ways your students can show how much they care.

  • OperationGratitude.com - host a donation drive for items on their wish list, write personal letters of appreciation to troops, first responders and veterans, or collect money to help with the cost of shipping care packages around the world.
  • AdoptaPlatoon.org - provides ongoing care packages to improve quality of life and raise morale for those serving in the U.S. military overseas.
  • Operation: Care and Comfort (occ-usa.org) - donate money or goods to create care packages to provide support and comfort to U.S. military service members.