Memorial Day With Children

There’s nothing like greeting a soldier in dress uniform.  For young children, they are in awe.  That presence naturally commands respect.  I hosted our school’s Memorial Day Remembrance on Friday, with Army Sergeant First Class John as our guest speaker.  As John looked at a sea of wide-eyed children, ready to talk about Memorial Day and the American flag, he decided to kneel.  Smart man.  He knew that delivering his message on his knees would be better understood by children.  And, he was right!

These are the words the children wrote to him on their own.  “Thank you for saving our country” and “We want to keep you forever”.  They are sincere words.  While they capture the moment of Memorial Day and thanking a soldier, I believe there is more behind their words, perhaps a bit of patriotism learned throughout the year.

I think the best thing I do to help children understand and feel the importance of Memorial Day is to sing patriotic songs.  As adults, we feel the lump in our throat whenever we sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” or “God Bless America.”  Children may not feel that lump, but they most definitely feel a swell in their heart.  They stand proud.  I show them how to place their hands over their hearts.  They love singing patriotic songs.

We belt out “God Bless America”Our new favorite is “Red, White, and Blue” by Debbie Clement.  We love singing!  Music and children go hand-in-hand.  When the song is also a book, that’s the icing on the cake.  Children are surprised to learn that “The Star-Spangled Banner” has multiple verses.  The stunning illustrations by Peter Spier give life and learning to our National Anthem.  Oh, how we sing!

The Memorial Day Remembrance had to be held indoors as the day was chilly and pouring rain.  Each class ‘planted’ a flag to honor and remember those who serve.  Instead of putting the flags in our Memory Garden, we put them into decorated buckets.  When our pen-pal Sergeant Curran visits the children next week (he is home from Afghanistan), he will help children place the flags in the Memory Garden.  That gesture will bring even more meaning to saying Thank You.

Jennie

About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
This entry was posted in Early Education, military, patriotism, picture books, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Memorial Day With Children

  1. What a beautiful post Jennie.. Such truth from out of the mouths of children.. Sending thoughts on Memorial Day.. Love and Blessings to you ..

  2. Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    Jennie teaches preschoolers in New England and today she shares a classroom experience as part of the preparation of her students for Memorial Day. This is impressive! Please, read on…

  3. Dan Antion says:

    I like how you build these lessons into your classroom activity.

  4. Wonderful Jennie.. love their messages and it was wonderful to have a serving soldier there to talk to them. A day that will stay in their memories I am sure.

  5. It seems penpal Sergeant Curran walks into being the Finale…great job, Jennie!

  6. Tina Frisco says:

    Lovely post, Jennie. I can only imagine how your heart swelled when watching these children engage ♥

  7. beetleypete says:

    This is interesting to me, as we don’t have anything like it in our schools. No patriotic songs are sung, and no flags displayed. It was the same 60 years ago, when I was in my first year at school. In Britain, it seems that such patriotism is regarded (by the authorities at least) as embarrassing, or inappropriate, and children are not made aware of it, in the same way as in America.
    Even our national flag is often taken to be a racist symbol these days.
    Perhaps it is a legacy of our rather shameful colonial past.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      I’m surprised, and a little sad. How you you honor your soldiers? I think of WWII and the lives lost. America cannot imagine a war fought on our own soil (except for the Civil War). And, patriotic songs? Schools sing “God Save the Queen”, right? The concern over racism is the same here. Some states are removing historic statues for the same reason. Terrible. For the record, Americans do not regard Britain’s colonial past as shameful at all. I think we have much to learn, and Britain sets a good example in many ways.

  8. L. Marie says:

    I remember learning patriotic songs at a young age. I also learned the Pledge of Allegiance. What a lovely idea to have a soldier come to talk to the children!

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, Thank you for a beautiful post!

  10. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blogger Daily – 29th May 2017 – Noelle Granger, Jenny Fitzkee, Sue Vincent and Robbie Cheadle | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

  11. Such a lovely way to celebrate Memorial Day, Jennie

  12. What a beautiful way to teach children about the brave, courage, and self-less men and women who have given their lives for democracy and freedom.

  13. You are doing a wonderful service for these children. To learn early that freedom isn’t free. I grew up on military bases and did not understand that until much later. We did the pledge and sang the songs but rarely connected the dots. You are doing good work here.

  14. Norah says:

    What wonderful things for the children to learn. Learning through music is indeed very special. Music speaks straight to the heart.

  15. Nice, I’m sure they’ll remember the soldier visiting for many years to come!

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