Veterans Day is an important opportunity to express our gratitude and teach our kids about the contributions and sacrifices U.S. veterans have made!
While many of the ways we’re used to celebrating, like attending parades or in-person volunteering, might be available again this year in your area, lots of parents are still playing it safe—especially if their kids aren’t fully vaccinated against COVID-19 yet. Still other families prefer to celebrate at home, working some simple but fun lessons about history, veterans, and military service into their already hectic schedules!
Here are five great ways to honor veterans this November 11th:
Learn about military ribbons and medals
Look up some of the colorful emblems, ribbons, and medals awarded to service members with your child. They can draw, paint, or cut construction paper to recreate the awards while you both learn which impressive accomplishment each one represents. Young kids might enjoy cutting out their favorites and pinning them to their shirt or creating a pretty display.
Interview a veteran
Show your appreciation by setting up a Zoom call with a grandparent or other family member, family friend, or neighbor who served in the military and interviewing them about their service. Here are some questions you can ask:
- What branch of service were you in? What kind of work did you do?
- Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences.
- What is one of the hardest things you faced?
- What was it like to come home?
- Anything else you want to share?
If your kids are older, they can do a more formal interview and submit it to the Library of Congress through the Veteran’s History Project.
Write a thank you card
Letters and drawings from kids will lift anyone’s spirits, but it’s extra special to send a note or picture thanking someone for protecting our freedoms. If you don’t personally know a veteran, websites like Operation Gratitude and A Million Thanks make it easy for kids to send letters to deployed troops, wounded warriors and veterans.
Learn to fold the flag
Did you know there’s a specific way the American flag is supposed to be folded, and each of the 13 folds has its own special meaning? This special flag folding is part of many important ceremonies, but might be most recognizable from military funerals. Look it up with your kids and learn the history and symbolism behind the patriotic ritual of folding the flag.
Donate items to veterans
One way to honor veterans is to make sure those who’ve served us continue to have their needs met. If you’re able to donate, commonly requested items include:
- Snacks (beef jerky, hard candy, crackers, etc)
- Laundry pods
- Wash cloths
- Clothing (diabetic socks, T-shirts, etc)
- AA or AAA batteries
- Personal hygiene items
- Gift cards
You can find veterans homes on the Disabled American Veterans (DAV) website or locate Veterans Affairs medical facilities at www.va.gov/health—call ahead if possible to see if there are any specific items they’re looking for.
Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.
For ongoing updates on coronavirus-related issues and questions that impact children and families, please find additional resources here.