For many students, Memorial Day marks the beginning of summer fun, pools opening and an extra day off from school. Why not set aside some of that time as an opportunity to teach the true meaning of the holiday? Here’s a breakdown of some great Memorial Day lessons for kids that can make the day fun and educational while acknowledging the seriousness of the holiday:

History

According to the National Education Association, Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day, a day to honor American Civil War dead. Following World War I, Memorial Day became a day to honor soldiers killed in all wars. NEA offers several lessons and activities to honor the nation’s fallen military men and women divided by grade level from kindergarten through high school.

Meaning

Though it may be a somewhat sad and sensitive topic, More4Kids has some good suggestions about how to help children understand the importance of the holiday set aside to honor those who have lost lives in the fight for various milestones throughout history.

Magnitude

Education World offers five lessons that go deeper into the meaning, to help students grasp the significance — or the sheer number — of American men and women who have died serving their country so the rest of us might enjoy freedom.

Celebration

Despite the seriousness of the holiday, fun activities or celebrations are a fine supplement to teaching the meaning and magnitude behind Memorial Day. Here is a look at some great suggestions that will help you teach your kids about this important holiday. For example, attending a parade or doing an internet treasure hunt, and other activities designed for learning about and celebrating Memorial Day.

There’s nothing wrong with having some fun on a day off. But consider spending some of it to instill a sense of honor, gratitude and knowledge of American’s history in your children. To learn more about some of the historical events that resulted in the lost lives we honor on Memorial Day, consider watching the films featured in our Best American History Movies series.

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