Veterans Day is an important day to honor and appreciate all our veterans have done for us. While attending parades or ceremonies to honor them is an important part of the holiday, sometimes they don’t really drive home the importance of the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. Here are a few activities for every age that you and your family can do to really instill meaning into the holiday.
While the significance of the holiday may be tough to grasp for young children, getting them involved still creates memories and starts the seeds of understanding for when they’re older.
An easy activity is making a thank you card, even if you do most of the work. Help them color, fingerpaint, or otherwise decorate a card. If they can hand-deliver their card, either to a veteran you know personally, or one at a local VA or similar organization, even better. They might not completely understand, but it’s sure to make a veteran smile.
Other arts and crafts you can make together that are holiday specific include making coffee-filter poppies or American flags out of construction paper. Little kids love stickers, so dressing up their paper flag with star stickers is another easy craft.
By the time kids are in school, they can start to learn more about the holiday’s true meaning. Here are a couple ideas:
Interview a veteran. Everybody knows somebody who has served, whether family, friend, or community member. Letting kids sit down and talk to someone about their service is a great way to engage their curiosity. Bonus: most vets have plenty of stories to share!
Having older children draw a picture of Veterans Day and what it means to them is a great way to get involved. They can also finger paint or fill in printed coloring pages, whatever you have available. Displaying their art at home is a great way to continue the conversation past the holiday itself.
Reading books is a little more impactful at this age, and there are great books available both about the holiday and how veterans have served. Public libraries and veterans organizations are great resources for age-appropriate material.
Middle and High School Age
By the time kids are in middle and high school, they are able to start talking about some of the more mature—but important—details of the holiday.
At this age, kids are more likely to find meaning by getting involved. There are great opportunities throughout the Black Hills to do so—our local VA Hospitals are a great place to start.
Research local history, such as visiting the Air Museum out by Ellsworth Air Force Base, or visiting the National Cemetery near Sturgis. This lets kids get a hands-on experience, while also learning at their own pace.
Watch historically accurate movies or television shows to help them understand what our veterans have gone through. There are many great ones out there, but we do caution parents to watch material first to make sure it’s age appropriate and they’re comfortable with their kids seeing it.
No matter how your family marks the holiday, perhaps one of the easiest things we can do as parents is set the example. When you see our service members in the local community with your family, thank them for their service, and explain to your children why that small gesture matters.
From all of us at Black Hills Parent, thank you to all who have served our nation, past and present.