Preschoolers and Memorial Day

How do I teach preschoolers about Memorial Day?
I start at the beginning, with a great book that teaches children about America.

I teach them how to sing “God Bless America”,
starting by singing the book.

We then learn about the flag, and flag etiquette.
We count 50 stars for 50 states.
We call the flag Old Glory.
Practicing is fun.

By this time, children begin to feel proud.
They want more.
I sing the book, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
You can see how worn and well-loved it is.
The full-page illustrations bring the words to life.
We stop to see a flag flying at half-mast at the resting place of soldiers.
We see the rocket’s red glare.

On the last day of school before Memorial Day,
children wear red, white, and blue.

We host a school-wide remembrance,
and my classroom gets to hold the flag
and lead everyone in singing “God Bless America.”

We have a guest speaker from the military.
This year it was a Sergeant Major in the Air Force.
He spoke of Decoration Day, poppies, decorating rest sites,
and of course remembering those who served and protect us.

Finally, we plant flags in our garden,
so we never forget.


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, children's books, Death and dying, Early Education, Giving thanks, history, Inspiration, military, patriotism, picture books, School, Singing, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

81 Responses to Preschoolers and Memorial Day

  1. beth says:

    A perfect way to teach this

  2. Lovely to see the kids so engaged.

  3. Dan Antion says:

    What a great lesson to teach them, Jennie. Tying it all together is important. It’s tradition and it’s ongoing. Thank you for passing this on to a new generation.

  4. quiall says:

    It is important that our children know the past and understand it.

  5. I expect that learning about Memorial Day this way will follow the children into adulthood.

  6. GP says:

    Thank you for being the wonderful person you are, Jennie.

  7. Darlene says:

    A special way to teach about a special day.

  8. willedare says:

    Beautiful! Love that you include Irving Berlin’s classic “God Bless America.”

  9. Poppies brings to mind the natural way your guest brought to light that those from other countries also are to be remembered as well…Awkward sentence, but you know what I mean.

  10. Thank you for remembering, and teaching the next generation never to forget, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael

  11. I wish all teachers taught it this way.

  12. beetleypete says:

    You have a lot of very patriotic traditions over there, Jennie. Looks like the kids really get into them too. We don’t have anything similar here, though some children do parade on Armistice Day in November, usually those belonging to groups like the Scouts.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    • Jennie says:

      You have mentioned this before, Pete. For a country who has fought wars on their own soil, I (and many others) find it surprising, and also a little sad. I guess Armistice Day is when you honor and remember your fallen soldiers. Today there will be parades in every town and city, and more. Now, many town plant small American flags in a large area, so there is literally a sea of flags. It’s quite moving. Best to you, Pete.

      • beetleypete says:

        It is better to think of Britain as 4 different countries, Jennie. England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland each have their own very different identities. (And in the case of Wales, its own language) So what patriotism exits tends to be regional, rather than national. Wales was conquered by the English, so too Scotland, and Ireland. There are lots of ancient animosities still existing today.

      • Jennie says:

        That is an excellent way to look at it, Pete. Thank you for this. It makes perfect sense. America still has animosities from the Civil War, etc. Best to you.

  13. Thank you for teaching the importance of the day, Jennie.

  14. Good for you, Jennie. The country needs more of this!

  15. Don Ostertag says:

    Your children are so fortunate to have you as a teacher, Jennie.

  16. Ritu says:

    Oh, I love this, Jennie!

  17. srbottch says:

    Thank you for your patriotism, Jennie, and introducing it to a new generation in a way they will remember forever. I hope that it teaches them to be patriots, too. You’re the best.

  18. Jeannie, you have incorporated American History into your daily curriculum. The integration of these patriotic truths were the foundation of our History and accentuated by John Adams, President, as he was trying to give our schools a united approach to “who we are”
    What you are doing was very much on the forefront when I was in school and should be today. Thanks for sharing. Gary Coker

  19. Carla says:

    This is amazing Jennie. How blessed these children are to have you teaching them.

  20. Carl Bottcher says:

    I can never remember my brothers kids but I’m deeply impressed by knowing jenniefitz. Did I get that right? I am deeply impressed and involved in education both here in America and in our beloved Jamaica. My dear wife JoAnn was deeply involved in kids education, she graduated from a women’s college in eastern MA. I’m very impressed reading your life with “kids”.


    • Jennie says:

      Thank you very much, Carl. Are you Steve’s brother? I’m glad to know you are involved in children’s education. This has been my focus and passion for many decades. Best to you.

  21. petespringerauthor says:

    Fantastic ideas to teach children about Memorial Day. I’ll bet they loved it all, and it will be a permanent memory for them.

    • Jennie says:

      They really love it! The books bring it all to life, and the songs are a natural interest for children. I was recently told by a former student who is actually headed to Yale in the fall, that he remembers. His Eagle Scout project is to interview veterans for the Library of Congress. Isn’t that wonderful? So, I guess it is a permanent memory for some children. Best to you, Pete.

  22. Maureen Meen says:

    Great teaching technique, 😊😊😊
    please follow my blog

  23. TanGental says:

    That’s lovely. Our equivalent is Armistice Day on 11th November, with a minutes silence at 11 am to recall the moment the Armistice took place in 1918. How its taught in schools is beyond my Ken but it brings a bit of a tear…

    • Jennie says:

      Fellow blogger Pete Johnson tells me the same thing, but he says there are not parades and songs and ceremonies. It’s not a big deal (very poor choice of words, but you know what I mean) in England. If your memories bring you a bit of a tear, that’s a good thing. Best to you, Geoff.

      • TanGental says:

        There’s a big parade in London attended by government and royalty and veterans. Around the country there are small ceremonies at the many war memorials – as a Boy Scout we paraded . This is always the Sunday nearest the 11th. The only music is the last post. No songs. Of course a lot of poppies are sold and proudly worn.

      • Jennie says:

        That is wonderful! Thank you for telling me, Geoff. I just Googled and listened to the song, which I have heard on occasion. It is as moving as Taps. It must be the bugle. Don’t you think so? I must say I was very pleased that our Sergeant Major made a big point about poppies with the children. That’s not something children in America typically hear. The only thing I’m sorry (and surprised) about is that children in England don’t sing patriotic songs. Well, I guess you adults don’t as well. Music is such a gift… okay, I’ll get off my high horse and leave you with a quotation from Hans Christian Andersen. “Where words fail, music speaks.” Best to you, Geoff.

      • TanGental says:

        Yes, we do have an ambivalent relationship with patriotism. Something to do with colonial guilt. It’s more true of the English than the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish, though. Often the English flag the cross of St George is more associated with unpleasant nationalism than patriotism which is such a shame. Probably we English are confused by our Britishness, like having two competing loyalties in ways the other nations don’t. And it helps them that they all try and hate the English as their historic oppressors. If we find it hard to explain the differences between having four separate nations, the British Isles and the United Kingdom, then goodness alone knows what the rest of the world make of us. Rest assured if you call a Scot, a Welshman or an Irishman English they will hate you but that is nothing to how someone from Cornwall will detest and loathe you if you call them English! British yes, but English… hell no.
        So singing say Land of Hope and Glory (for many too Empireish) or Jerusalem (a bit warlike and grim though some great lines and my mums favourite) is ok but only really at sporting events. Personally I think Abide With Me should be one we prompt. Done well it’s beautiful. It’s not really a British anthem but it gives me tingles and takes me back to schooldays in ways the others don’t.

      • Jennie says:

        What a great explanation and description of how it really is. Abide With Me is lovely. Thank you, Geoff.

  24. Norah says:

    So important to teach children about their history and to honour those who have served.

  25. June Coker says:

    As a 78 year old granny, I can still sing all our Patriotic songs and those from each branch of the military that we were taught in Grammar School in the 50’s. These are lessons that last a life time. Thanks for “passing the baton” of patriotism to these children. God Bless America.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, June. As 71-year-old I can still sing-’em from my school days, too. My fellow teachers don’t know there is more than one verse to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As a child, we had to learn them, too. I can still sing, “Oh thus be it ever…”. Perhaps it is my memories that spur me to pass the baton. Thank you, June. If your grandchildren are elementary school age, I highly recommend Peter Spier’s book. His full page illustrations bring to life our National Anthem.

  26. These are wonderful songs and stories, and experiences to teach the children. How wonderful it must have been being there singing with the children and honoring our fallen servicemen and women.

  27. You have a lovely methodology for teaching your class about this important day, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Robbie. Yes, there is a methodology. It takes many years of teaching to understand what is best and what works for children. This past week I have watched a wonderful new teacher practice her class’s year-end performance for families. It is so structured, like a second grade event. She will learn over the years, like I did. Thank you, Robbie. It’s an important day.

  28. For me, your opening thought captures my attention: How do I teach pre-schoolers about Memorial Day? That thought runs through all levels of education – How do I teach ___ about ___? How? How and why are two of the most important thoughts in planning any lesson. Well done, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      Well said, Frank. Thinking of the children first, and planning lessons based on their interest and ability should always be #1. Actually, it’s hard to do for new teaches, as so much is curriculum-driven these days. Thank you!

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