Veterans Day With Preschoolers

Preschoolers need hands-on experiences to help cement their learning.  Today we learned about the American flag, so making one was just the right thing to do, because patriotism begins with our flag.  We needed to thank our veterans, but let me back up…

Years ago, when we were able to take field trips with children, I took the class to the Shriner’s circus.  Little did I know when the circus begins the lights go out and a big American flag drops down.  Everyone rises to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.  Everyone except my class.  Parents were chatting.  Children were running around.

I was horrified.  I rushed to every child to take off any ball caps and put their hands over their hearts.  That was my turning point, my wake up call.  I knew I needed to teach children about our flag and more.

I start with books, and I sing the books.  These are the three best, the tried-and-true, songs that children love to sing, with illustrations that bring the songs to life.  Do you know what a towering steep is?  My children do.

Then, we are ready to sing, standing proud with our hands on our hearts.  We learned what a veteran is.  We talked about bravery and serving our country.

After we made the flag, doing all the cutting and gluing, we were then ready to say a proper ‘Thank You’ to a veteran.  This is important!  Children’s words are authentic, and I never change a single word.  Decorating a thank you note is as important as the words.  It is hands-on learning and giving.

Do grown men cry?  Yes.  Ed was pretty choked up and teary eyed.  The children knew he loved the letter and the flag they made for him.  See, that’s one more step for children.  They learned, and they gave.  They felt good today.

On a side note, our current chapter reading book is “The Story of Doctor Dolittle.”  Hugh Lofting wrote the book in 1920, over a hundred years ago.  He was serving his country in World War I.  He had children back home, and there was nothing to write home about, as the war was so terrible.  Instead of writing letters to his children, he wrote stories about animals, which became his beloved book that children still read today.  My class loves this book!

So on this Veterans Day, I also think of Hugh Lofting.

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 America, American flag, chapter reading, children's books, Expressing words and feelings, Giving thanks, military, patriotism, preschool and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

75 Responses to Veterans Day With Preschoolers

  1. beth says:

    a great connection, Jennie

  2. Darlene says:

    I didn’t know the history of Doctor Doolittle. Veterans/Remembrance Day has always been an emotional day for me. Even though I have never lost a single family member to a war. Bless you for keeping the day alive and relevant to the young people. So important.

  3. quiall says:

    It is important that children understand our past and respect, it in order to plan for the future. They are our future.

  4. srbottch says:

    Jennie, this is such a wonderful post, one of my favorites. The flag and the stories behind it are such wonderful lessons in who and what we are as a nation. Wouldn’t it be great if this was taught in every early childhood school in every small town and big city throughout our beautiful country? And thanks for telling us about Dr. Doolittle author.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Steve. I often think about classrooms of young children who should be singing these songs, reading these books, and making a giant flag for a veteran. Yes, that would be great. I’m the odd teacher, even in my own school, and I find that sad. On the bright side, some children are getting it!! It seems fitting that I’m reading Doctor Dolittle.

  5. beetleypete says:

    We have our Remembrance commemoration this Sunday. It is always the closest Sunday to the 11th. I read the original Doctor Dolittle books when I was quite young, and loved them dearly.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  6. I love the backstory of Doctor Doolittle!

  7. Jim Borden says:

    what a wonderful way to teach your children about patriotism and Veterans’ Day. I never knew that about Dr. Dolittle. And I have to admit I do not know what a towering steep is…

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Jim. Can’t you picture this man in some tent during the war, trying to find something to write home about? And a hundred years later it’s still a great collection of stories. As to a towering steep, when I was reading (singing) the beautifully illustrated “Star-Spangle Banner” book, a kindergartener pointed to the illustration and said, “That’s the towering steep.” She was right! It is the platform high up on the mast of the ship, where sailors can control the sails. Leave it to a kindergartener, right? Rampart was another one.

  8. Dan Antion says:

    Such an important lesson, Jennie. I’m glad you care enough to teach them.

    I have to say, I was a bit shocked and a bit sad to read, “Years ago, when we were able to take field trips with children…” I hope the day returns.

    • Jennie says:

      Thank you, Dan. It is so important. I am sad about field trips, too. The regulations require parent drivers to complete a First Aid course and carry a seat belt cutter. Seriously? Plus we can’t go more than 30 minutes away. This has been in effect long before Covid.

      There is a great place in Ipswich called Wolf Hollow. I used to take the children there. Wolves are not at all what you think. I’d take a wolf over a coyote any day. Anyway, this month we’re learning about Russia, and since the largest wolf population is in Russia, I would dearly like to take the children there. So instead we have a live wolf cam set up, and we’re focusing on Peter and the Wolf and learning about musical instruments. Yes…I miss those field trips.

  9. frenchc1955 says:

    Jennie, thank you so much!

  10. Chel Owens says:

    I’m always impressed with the lessons you manage to include, Jennie. You’re a great teacher.

  11. There are still so many who don’t put their hands over their hearts and stand. Sad even your parents didn’t but I’ve seen that often. Kudos to you, Jennie!

    • Jennie says:

      I know… it is very sad. The good news is that the circus event sparked my determination to make sure I taught my preschoolers about the flag and patriotism. Thank you, Jacqui!

  12. I wish you could teach every child in America, Jennie. Thanks for the heartwarming story.

  13. Pingback: Veterans Day With Preschoolers – Catrise – Every Day.

  14. Carla says:

    I did not know that about Hugh Lofting, Jennie. You not only do a remarkable job teaching the children you come in contact with, but us old folks as well.

  15. Ritu says:

    Love this, Jennie! 💜

  16. Never knew about Hugh Lofting, see, you’re teaching old bats like me as well as your pre-schoolers!

  17. K.L. Hale says:

    Thank you Ms. Jennie for the ways you shape our young citizens. The world needs more of you. God bless you.

  18. Mireya says:

    I admire your teaching ways. I imagine the scene you call horrifying. To me I saw children being children. They were excersising thier freedom of speech. It happens. How do you teach Veterans Day when lately I find myself asking how America came to be is not such good story at all. I think of those casuaties of war and I feel for them but is it really worth it? I don’t know/ Any way thanks for making me think about this and how important it is to honor everyone who makes a difference in this world including you.

  19. Don Ostertag says:

    Love your story about teaching the children to respect the flag, Jennie. Too bad their parents showed such a bad example!
    Never knew that interesting back story of Dr, Doolittle.

    • Jennie says:

      Thanks, Don. I know what you mean about the parents. Sigh! Yes, it’s an interesting story about the author. He is the same age as my grandmother…how can that be??

  20. Luanne says:

    Love this! But the parents chatting?! So you have to teach parents AND children?! xo

  21. petespringerauthor says:

    Well done, Jennie! You do a great job of always bringing patriotism into your class and giving your students real-world opportunities.

  22. TanGental says:

    That is lovely Jennie. As a boy I was a boy scout and we’d parade to the local war memorial every remembrance Sunday. There would be poems read the silence and laying of poppies. And then a bugler played the last post. I may have been 9 or 10 but Dad who was watching us began blinking. Other men, sturdy serious people to my little boy pinched their noses and rubbed an eye. It was the most emotion I ever saw and even though then I didn’t really understand I sort of did. If I asked it was ‘there was a bit of smoke’ as an explanation. If only both they and my teachers could have contextualised like you do. How helpful would that have been. Your way is so much better

    • Jennie says:

      My goodness! Your story paints a picture of just how it was when we were children. The stiff upper lip, and move on from the war sort of thing. I wish people had talked, too. When I became a teacher, it seemed like the most natural thing to do with children. And it works. Thank you for your kind words, Geoff. Please lean on me when grandchildren come along.

      • TanGental says:

        I may well have to Jennie! Both children tell me that they know I’ll be a great grand dad and they intend giving me plenty of opportunities to prove it by babysitting their offspring. As I continually point out, they need to take the first steps…

      • Jennie says:

        You will absolutely be the best granddad. When those babies come along, start your storytelling when they turn three. And keep going! Geoff, you can do real and pretend- stories about your childhood, and made-up stories.

      • TanGental says:

        Secretly I’ve been planning ever since the children told me to stop reading to them. They must have been about 17….

  23. swamiyesudas says:

    My Dear Jennie, as ever, You are the Best. Happy You are there. Love n Regards. 🙂

  24. Thanks for your work, Jennie! You are so unbelievable fantastic. xx Michael

  25. bosssybabe says:

    So heartwarming to see children give back and express their gratitude to veterans! 🥰🥰

  26. Oh, this is wonderful and I hope they carry these songs and lessons all their lives.

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