Group offers lesson plans to teach meaning of Memorial Day

  • Wreaths Across America's free lesson plans for parents or teachers
  • The ultimate goal is to give students an opportunity to serve in some capacity
  • Lesson plans help kids learn Memorial Day is more than a day off school 

EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, NJ – MAY 30: People stand for the National Anthem during a ceremony after a Memorial Day Parade on May 30, 2022 in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Memorial Day events are held across the U.S. to commemorate those who died in active military service. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — School is winding down across the country. But there’s still a way parents can educate their children about Memorial Day.

The organization Wreaths Across America, which honors America’s veterans by placing wreaths on their graves, has created free lesson plans and other resources to help teachers, parents or others impart lessons about Memorial Day.

“Educators, homeschoolers, parents, grandparents — anyone, really, who is around children — can utilize these free resources,” said Cindy Tatum, the organization’s curriculum developer, a Gold Star mother and a former teacher who taught high school for 26 years.

The plans are tailored to different grade levels.

Kindergartners, for example, color and cut out their own poppy flowers — a reference to the red poppies sometimes worn as a symbol of remembrance. The poppies come from the poem “In Flanders Fields,” which was authored by John McCrae, a Canadian World War I veteran, to memorialize a battle in Belgium during that war.

“There’s probably not too many kids across the country that have not been into Walmart during the Memorial Day season and seen the American Legion out there selling the little red poppies. That’s an excellent opportunity for explaining to students or your children what those poppies stand for,” Tatum said.

Wreaths Across America has tailored more advanced learning for high schoolers, including analyzing McCrae’s famous poem.

Tatum added that students’ own knowledge of America’s wars increases as they get older, which changes how teachers can talk about these issues.

“The likelihood they are familiar with someone or know of someone who’s got a relative who served is much, much greater,” she said. “And so, you can then begin to ask the older students. Of course, they talk to their friends about this person. Encourage your friends to talk to their parents or their aunt or their uncle or whoever it was who may have served.”

Because Memorial Day involves discussing America’s wars, there is also a need for age-appropriate content. Tatum noted, for example, that high school students are old enough to watch movies set during wartime such as “Glory” and “The Patriot.”

Wreaths Across America’s goal is to distribute Memorial Day lesson plans with the hope that they can inspire a new generation of Americans to give back.

“One of the important things that Wreaths Across America wanted to do in implementing all these lesson plans was to give students an opportunity to serve in some capacity,” she said, citing volunteer projects including placing flags at veteran cemeteries.

To access Memorial Day and other holiday curricula, visit the Wreaths Across America website.


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