Memorial Day Lessons and Teacher Resources
Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May. Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates U.S. men and women who died while in military service to their country. First enacted to honor Union soldiers of the American Civil War, it was expanded after World War I to include American casualties of any war or military action. Many observed this holiday by visiting cemeteries and memorials. A national moment of remembrance takes place at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Another tradition is to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff from dawn until noon local time. Volunteers often place American flags on each gravesite at National Cemeteries. Members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars take donations for poppies in the days leading up to Memorial Day; the poppy’s significance to Memorial Day is the result of the John McCrae poem “In Flanders Fields.” – Wikipedia
- Students learn about Memorial Day here while using crumpling skills to create an appropriate flag decoration (Art K)
- This Memorial Day parade idea uses songsheets to display student artwork and singing skills (Music/Art K-5)
- Memorial Day poppies are created here (Art 2-4)
- Students make sunset silhouettes of historical monuments in this Memorial Day art lesson (Art 5)
- Here is a tremendous flag footprint idea for the patriotic holidays (Art P)
- This patriotic collage and stained glass idea can be used for holidays throughout the year (Art P-K)
- Toddlers and preschoolers press their hands and feet into service for this patriotic flag activity (Art P-1)
- Use this simple song in your class for Flag Day, 4th of July or other patriotic times (Music P-2)
- This idea is called “Veterans In My Family” and is great for Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day (MD P-12)
- “Links of Compassion” is a great idea for dealing with loss that could be adapted for Memorial Day (Other K-12)
- This Veteran’s Day/Memorial Day activity uses the book “The Wall” (SS 2-3)
- This idea involves making song “puzzles” out of the words from patriotic songs (Music 2-6)
- This game helps students learn about songs of the armed forces in a fun way (Music 3-5)
- In this lesson, students write letters to soldiers and apply critical thinking to the subject of war (LA/SS 6-12)
- This lesson involves creating memorials for September 11th through poems and painting (Art/LA 8-12)
- For outstanding lesson plans on specific wars, go to the U.S. History – War section of our Social Studies pages for grades PK-1, 2-3, 4-5, 6-8, 9-12
- View Memorial Day videos on veteran’s experiences, WWII and the history of the holiday on The History Channel’s Memorial Day Minisite
- Flash and Quicktime movies with moving Memorial Day related themes run on the U.S. Memorial Day image site along with music, photo, vintage postcard and wallpaper files
- Here are popular YouTube videos on “The Meaning of Memorial Day” and “A Memorial Day Song”
- Experience war stories here told by veterans from different backgrounds, fighting in different wars, with very different experiences in the Veteran’s History Project
- This is the Department of Veteran’s Affairs Memorial Day tribute.
- Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Education Place contains Memorial Day themed social studies and language arts activities for K-8 including coloring pages, quizzes, word finds, writing prompts, and essay ideas.
- A full list of Memorial Day speeches, essays, poetry, prayers, and lyrics can be found on the U.S. Memorial Day site, plus quizzes, fill-ins, e-cards, and crossword, logic, search, and picture puzzles activities.
- The Library of Congress presents original source material for Today in History: May 30 including historical photographs especially from the civil war and original sheet music.
- For good Memorial Day quotes, go to The Memorial Day Tribute.
- USA.gov presents both sides of the holiday with traditional patriotic and historical links but also links to holiday recipes, and seasonal advise on barbecue, boating, swimming, travel, and tornado safety.
- Go to EdHelper.com for themed units on each war our veterans have served in, plus lots of Memorial Day activities, puzzles, and printables, primarily for K-8.
- Band teachers will relate to Nancy Flanagan’s moving Memorial Day Parade experience.
- If you have not found what you need in the previous sites, try InfoPlease.com with special features such as “The War Dead,” “US Military Leaders,” and “America’s Wars,” but also more unique ones like World War II movies and flag etiquete.