Veterans’ Day, observed on November 11, is an annual holiday in the United States that is set aside to honor military veterans. Veterans’ Day is celebrated as Armistic Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world as November 11th marks the end of World War I. History says that all major hostilities in World War I were ended on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour. (Note: Next year Veteran’s Day will be celebrated on 11/11/11).
Veteran’s Day is a perfect time to engage young people in planning a celebration to honor those who have served in the military to protect the freedom and rights of all Americans. If you begin next week, you will have a full month to plan the activities.
Begin with the end in mind. What would you like the culminating event to be? Would you like to have Veterans come to the after-school program and not only be honored for the service given but speak to the students about what it means to “serve” your country? Would you like students to write cards or letters to Veterans that are in the hospital? Would you like for students to sing patriotic songs and write about freedom, capture it on video, and share it with families and friends, as well as veterans? Maybe you would like to combine several activities for the day’s celebration. Whatever you decide, the next month will give you plenty of time to work toward this end.
Since November 11th , Veteran’s Day, is a holiday, you will want to be prepared for the final event on November 10th Once you have decided on the “end” you want, you will need to backward plan with the students. With students, brainstorm all of the possible activities and lessons that you can do as a lead-up to the culminating event. Discuss which activities are feasible and also which are appropriate for which grade level. You may want to select several short projects for each group of students, or you may want to plan a single activity that will require multiple sessions to complete. If you are looking for art activities you can find numerous ones on line. You can find a variety of poems that celebrate the service that Veterans have given this country. If you decide to do music, work on the patriotic songs for several weeks, bringing the youth together to practice more than once.
You might want to do this planning with a single classroom of older students or an advisory group of students with representatives from each of the grade levels. Either way, you will find that the celebration on Veteran’s Day will be a great success.