Thanking a Veteran and Astronaut

As soon as the leaves begin to fall, I start teaching children patriotic songs.  I have my Big Book Atlas handy to look at and talk about America.  Of course the American flag hangs in my classroom.

All of this is a build up to Veterans Day.

Some years we have invited members of our military into the classroom to say thank you.  Other years we have reached out across the world to say thank you to our military serving overseas.

This year, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of landing on the moon, we thanked retired Navy Captain and astronaut Jon McBride.  Jon was the Commander of his space shuttle mission.  He was also the president of the association of all astronauts and cosmonauts.

The children only know and understand that he was a pilot in the Navy and an astronaut in space.  We made him a big thank you note.  Children dictated every word and decorated the big note with enthusiasm.

Do you see the astronaut going into space?

There are suns, hearts, a flag, drawings of Jon, and a most interesting drawing on the bottom by Ethan, who worked on this for over twenty minutes.  Ethan is over the moon (pun intended) about eagles, the American flag, and Jon.

When we made the big American flag, it took children two days of cutting and pasting red stripes to make the flag.

We carefully counted the red stripes on our classroom flag – seven.  Ethan told me there were thirteen stripes.

Yes, Ethan, you are right.  While the flag has thirteen stripes, there are seven red ones.

The children were very proud of their American flag.  I was, too.

As we learn about eagles, their symbol and importance to America, and about the moon, we salute you, Jon McBride.  We thank you, and all those who have served, for your service and sacrifice.  God Bless America.


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 America, American flag, Early Education, Giving thanks, history, Inspiration, military, patriotism, preschool, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

66 Responses to Thanking a Veteran and Astronaut

  1. beetleypete says:

    I have no doubt he will adore that special letter from your children.
    I hope he does become their pen-pal! 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      Finding a mailing box was a challenge, because I don’t want to fold the flag. I do hope he likes it, and will write to us. I think Ethan will have lots of wonderful questions. 🙂 Best to you, Pete.

  2. Dan Antion says:

    This is a great way to teach about such an important group of people.

  3. Darlene says:

    What a great card and flag. He will love it!

  4. Opher says:

    I’m much more of an internationalist. I think all cultures have things that are worthy and things to be ashamed of.
    I’m aiming for a better, more cohesive world built on tolerance, partnership, respect and freedom.
    My doctrine is based on the UN charter of human rights. Those are the values I support.
    I’m very wary of patriotism. It is one step away from nationalism. I want unity, values and hope.
    Some things are worth fighting for but for me, countries are an artificial construct.

    • Jennie says:

      I understand, Opher. I feel the same way, that people need to be one, cohesive unit. You know I echo those beliefs and values. From a teaching perspective, I think it’s important to learn about one’s country, flag, songs, etc. The spirit of belonging to something bigger is a good thing. And, learning to thank others is important, too. In this case, starting the process of learning about space and the moon fits. We may have some differences, Opher, and that’s okay. It’s what makes the world go round. Best to you!

  5. quiall says:

    What a wonderful way to teach them! Children need to be engaged. Well done. We need more teachers like you!

  6. Kids are so without guile, so endearing. “Dear Jon, We love you.” So sweet and disarming.

  7. This is a fabulous flag, Jennie. Well done to the children on the cutting out of those stars particularly. They are quite difficult.

  8. Wonderful! Hope you all will get an answer, for so great and lovely work. Michael

  9. John Fioravanti says:

    Great post about a wonderful class project, Jennie! I’m sure the kids learned a lot of valuable information and skills in the process!

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, John! I think they did. They loved it! Now we move on to eagles and America, and that is a natural flow to learning about the moon and the moon landing. Isn’t teaching wonderful and exciting?! Of course you already know that. 🙂

  10. I loved every one of these lovely stories and thank you Charles French too! As always, such memorable and beautiful stories. So appreciated.

  11. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you so much!

  12. This makes me so happy to hear about. As the daughter of a 20 year Army Veteran, I don’t believe anyone spoke about exactly what it was my dad or the Army did. We just knew they were gone most of the time and mom was the General in our house. Such huge gaps in our education back then. I wonder how many are being taught about it now? I almost think you are a Unicorn. Magical and rare.

    • Jennie says:

      I wonder how many are being taught it, too. I think service projects, raising money money and sending items to soldiers overseas, is the most common and popular. That’s a good thing. One year we did this for a soldier, Paulo. Children baked (we have kitchens in the classrooms) and we held a bake sale at school. Then, children made a list of what they wanted to get him, and we walked to CVS with the money in hand. The store manager was pretty choked up. He contributed, too.

      I think when you make it personal for children, they can begin to understand. Paulo became a friend to us. When he returned, he came to school to tell the children all about where he had been, etc. As the year goes on, I somehow think there will be new adventures ahead with Jon, too.

      I really think teaching patriotic songs and learning about our flag is where teachers should begin.

      I always wanted to be a unicorn, Marlene. 🦄 Thank you! ❤️

  13. Kekee says:

    Our middle son attended Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama in the summer of 1992. The astronaut who worked with them that week told us the story of his grandmother who told him her memories of riding in a covered wagon as a child. She also stood on the sandy beach in Florida and watched her grandson launched into outer space. One life time! Imagine what your students will witness in their lives!

    • Jennie says:

      Wow!! That is a great story. Thank you, Kekee. From a covered wagon to flying into space, all in a lifetime. That is mind boggling. Yes, I often wonder how it will be and what the children will witness in their lifetime.

  14. petespringerauthor says:

    Another beautiful and important lesson for your students.

  15. What a wonderful post, Jennie. Tell your kids I love their flag, too!

  16. dgkaye says:

    So beautiful Jennie. Start them young to let them know where their freedoms came from ❤

  17. And God bless the Aqua Roomers!

  18. This is so wonderful! Did you end up folding the flag?

    • Jennie says:

      Great question, Deborah! How did you guess that I struggled with putting folds in the flag? That seemed… well, wrong. I just couldn’t do that to the American flag. So, at first I grumbled at myself for not thinking this project through. Then, I realized the flag project was the right thing thing for children, and for the veteran astronaut. Cardboard tubes were too narrow to roll the flag along with the big thank you note. I found a perfect square box at the UPS store, long like a tube. I was able to safely roll everything, and add an envelope with a letter from me, photos, and a thumb drive with a video of the children singing and saying thank you. Whew! 🙂

  19. srbottch says:

    Jennie, I absolutely love the emphasis of Liberty, freedom and good old-fashioned patriotism that you teach in your classroom. So invaluable and in short supply, nowadays. Keep up the great work!

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