Sunday, October 22, 2017

Honoring Our Veterans

Ahoy Mateys! Veterans Day is around the corner, and I want to share with you an activity I did with my little scallywags to honor our friends and family members who have served or currently serve in our country's armed forces.

First thing on my list was to gather children's books about Veterans Day. These were displayed on the rain gutter tray mounted below the whiteboard. (The rain gutter idea came from Jim Trelease, the author of The Read-Aloud Handbook! When perched on the rain gutter, the books' covers are easy to view.) In addition, I searched for student-friendly websites for background information on Veterans Day.

I introduced the topic of Veterans Day by asking my students what does "veteran" mean. Once we arrived at the definition related to the holiday, I distributed KWL charts and asked students to list in the "K" column what they knew about Veterans Day. I had also made a poster size KWL chart. After the kiddos had made their list, I had them share their knowledge with each other and called on volunteers to write on the class chart. We then brainstormed questions we had about the holiday and wrote these in the "W" column.

Next the kiddos gathered on the carpet in the Reading Corner for a read-aloud of Veterans Day by Rebecca Rissman. This book provides information on the history of the holiday and how it is celebrated. After the reading, we returned to our KWL charts to write in the "L" column the facts we learned from the book.

The following day I talked with the students about an idea I had to honor the veterans we personally know. I showed under the doc camera a copy of the Veterans Information Form I had created. For each veteran in their family they would complete the form with a family member's help. If there were no veterans in their family, they could fill out the form for any family friends who were vets. (A letter explaining our project would be sent home along with the Veteran Information Forms.)

I explained that we would create a Veterans Wall of Honor on the wall outside our class door by displaying the information forms. In addition, I encouraged them to bring photos their families or friends might have of their veterans to place on the wall as well. For students who did not personally know a veteran, they were assigned to write a paragraph about the "Who, What, When, Where, and Why of Veterans Day". These would also be displayed on the Wall of Honor. 

Throughout the rest of the week, we continued to read more Veterans Day books and view the various VD websites.

On the day that the assignments were due, I provided students with red construction paper on which to glue each cut-out form and photo. Students who wrote paragraphs also glued their writing to the construction paper. Once that was completed, I distributed blue and gold stars. I explained to students that during World War I a family tradition began of placing in the home window a white banner with a blue star to honor a family member actively serving in the armed forces. Later another tradition was started. Gold stars were sewn onto the banner to honor family members who died while serving their country. Students then glued the appropriate star above the Veteran Information Form to the red construction paper. 

After school that day I hung the red construction papers on the hallway wall outside our door. The students were very excited to see the Veterans Wall of Honor when they came to school the next morning! 

If you want to create a Veterans Wall of Honor with your students, click on the picture below. This FREEBIE contains the resources and directions for completing this project to honor and remember our veterans.

Thanks for docking your ship here for a while, me hearty. 
As you sail on to a new adventure, I wish you well!

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