Honoring Veterans Day

by becky on November 11, 2012

So, I have to be honest. In the past I haven’t taken much time to really discuss Veterans Day. I always asked students what they know about the holiday and why we celebrate it. I am ashamed to admit that I’d often get Veterans Day and Memorial Day confused. Well, not anymore. This past year my best friend began working in the Murfreesboro Veterans Administration Hospital in Tennessee. She can’t tell me much about her patients, but the bottom line is Veterans are not honored nearly enough for what they sacrifice for our safety. Now that my eyes have truly been opened to this, I decided that I will no longer pass up this holiday and I will educate my students on the history of Veterans Day and why we NEED to honor and celebrate these heroes. I learned a ton and I feel confident my students did also. In fact, every once in while teachers create lesson plans that they don’t want to admit that they are proud of, but THIS one I’m very proud of. Here is a breakdown of the learning that took place in my classroom.

First I passed out a Veterans Day K-W-L to my students and together we filled in the K and W section together. Then, I read the first of two pictures books to the class. I intentionally chose LOW leveled books so that they get the gist without overwhelming them. Here is the exact book we read the first day.

As I was reading, students were allowed to take notes on what they were learning. Like I said, it was low enough that they were able to listen and take notes. Here they are doing a GREAT job of participating… (such good Goobers :) )

On the same day, one of my thoughtful teammates brought in her boyfriend’s actual military dog tags for the students to look at. I forgot to take pictures, but they were so gentle with the tags and they were beyond excited to find out why it had the information on it. Nothing like building suspense.

The next day we read my personal favorite book on Veterans Day…

They again, took notes as I was reading. At the end, I had them share out their “L” thoughts. Here is our KWL anchor chart filled in. :)

Then, came the part I was MOST excited about. I told the class that they would be writing friendly letters to the Veterans that my best friend works with.  But, it wouldn’t be just any friendly letter. Nope, these would be in the shape of dog tags-cuh-ute!!! Of course immediately they were super stoked. I have to admit one of the things I really enjoy about this class is they enjoy doing projects. That of course makes me feel good knowing they are excited to use their creativity. Here is my example I showed to my 4th grade friends.

Since they were excited (“Cool. Awesome.” were just some comments I heard ;-) ) I knew I wouldn’t get many complaints when they turned over their KWL chart and saw on the back I had created a Friendly Letter graphic organizer for them to write their letters. The letters will be glued in between the two tags. With some guidance they got to work and began filling in the different sections of the graphic organizer. OMG… some of the things they were writing really made me feel good because I know the veteran who receives it will be touched.

Moving on… :)

The next day I decided to discuss why soldiers wear military dog tags and the history behind them. (very cool to know btw) We read a handout I made and then answered questions such as, “why do soldiers wear 2 identical tags? What types of information is included on them? and “Why are they called dog tags?” I wanted them to learn that everything has importance and that when something is symbolic, it’s because there is a history to it. That led us to why Poppies are a popular and symbolic sign of Veterans Day. By this point students were ready to peer edit their sloppy copy organizers and get to work on their final copy stationary.  When they were finished recopying their letters (in pencil), I had them pick the cover they wanted. I had 4 choices available. They then colored the letters in with a gray crayon, and cut their pieces out. I wanted to make them look super authentic so I found this silver ribbon at Hobby Lobby that looks like a real chain.

You can’t beat 24 feet for $1.99. Um, totally happy I found this. I really makes them look authentic.

Once their actual projects were done, we talked about red poppies and why we see Veterans and those supporting the Veterans wearing these flowers. Another interesting fact I learned. Then, each student used the template I created and made their own poppy. I told them that they get to keep the poppy since we are sending their letters to the Veterans. Here is my class’s amazing final projects.

 They look so great and the students have a way better appreciation for what these men and women have done and continue to do everyday. I wish I had thought of this sooner, but at least I feel better knowing that from here on out, come early November, my students will be learning a whole lot more about this honorable holiday.

I realize that today is Veterans Day (P.S. did you know that you are NOT supposed to add ‘s to Veterans Day? I didn’t until I did this project), but if you want to purchase your own copy of this unit, even if you just hang on to it until Memorial Day or for next year… here is a breakdown of what you will get in this 24-page unit.

Included in this unit:

{Suggested} Lesson Plans

K-W-L Anchor Chart Headers

Veteran K-W-L student copy

 Friendly Letter Graphic Organizer

 4 Front Cover templates

Back cover template

Final copy stationary (2 page options)

History of Military Dog Tag handout/Review Questions

Poppy Craft idea

Character Traits of a Veteran student organizer

Bulletin Board Headline Letters

Examples from my classroom

 Click {here} to visit my TpT store to get your own copy.

BUT, if you want a copy for FREE… be one of the first 2 people to comment on this post and tell me how you celebrate/honor Veterans Day in your class.

Make sure your include your email address or I’ll have to choose the next comment that does! :)

Enjoy your day off tomorrow and remember why we have it off. Til next time…

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Cathy VerSteeg November 11, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Becky, this packet looks awesome! We always read The Wall to celebrate Veterans Day. We also use the time to make Christmas cards for soldiers currently overseas. I send them to family friends who are currently serving. Making them this time of year allows for them to get to the troops before Christmas.

Thanks,
Cathy VerSteeg
cathy@missversteeg.com

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EmilyK November 12, 2012 at 1:12 am

I love teaching about Veterans Day! I also didn’t know about the non- ‘s until this year. Checkout my post about Veterans Day @ 4321teach.blogspot.com.

EmilyK

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Deanna Iverson November 12, 2012 at 5:16 am

I have never taught Veterans Day ( and I did not know about the apostrophe, or lack thereof) and my husband is a veteran! My sister works at a V.A. hospital and I am sure I could send letters there from my students. Maybe we could even send letters to the troops now! So many possibilites. I would be excited to teach this next year. Thanks for sharing your ideas!

Thank you,
Deanna Iverson
chrsiverson@yahoo.com

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Kay November 13, 2012 at 1:46 am

I LOVE your Nonfiction Text Features posters and anchor chart. Great idea to have a visual for students. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful ideas you use in your classroom!

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Heather November 20, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Gosh, I’ve been out of the blogging loop for the past few weeks, but just saw this post. You’re unit looks awesome. My brother was a marine in Afghanistan, so I always make sure to talk about Veteran’s Day and honor the veterans in the lives of my students. Thanks for making such a cute product!

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Courtney H February 26, 2013 at 6:11 am

This is AMAZING!! I just stumbled upon your blog and just wanted to tell you THANK YOU. Thank you for being artsy and passionate about teaching and thank you for honoring our veterans. I am 1st year teacher (3rd grade) and you are inspiring. My dad was in the Army, my mom was a marine and my fiance was in the Navy, so this is a special day for my family. I can’t wait to go to your store, buy this and do it next year!! :)

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Gretchen Radswillas August 27, 2013 at 11:33 pm

I LOVE YOUR DOG TAG PROJECT!!!!! My husband is a veteran and i hold Veteran’s day close to my heart! I have seen first hand the sacrifices these men and women have experienced. My husband was deployed and missed the birth of our first daughter. I really love it…. Thanks!!!!

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