Declared a U.S. federal holiday in 1971, Memorial Day is a day to pay respect to the men and women who have lost their lives in the service of their country. Educators can provide Memorial Day activities to help students understand the importance of the holiday to American history.

Check out a few Memorial Day activities to celebrate the holiday with students:

Memorial Day Thank-You Cards

Materials:

  • Construction paper (variety of colors)
  • White paper
  • Markers or colored pencils
  • Stapler or glue stick

Instructions:

  • Encourage students to make thank-you cards for U.S. soldiers for their courage and service.
  • Glue or staple the white paper onto the construction paper.
  • Fold the papers in half horizontally.
  • On the bottom half, ask students to write notes of appreciation to the soldiers.
  • On the top half, have students create their own artwork in celebration of Memorial Day.
  • Encourage students to decorate the front and back of the thank-you card.
  • Contact Operation Gratitude to send students' thank-you cards to veterans, wounded warriors or service members who are currently deployed.

Memorial Day Handprint Flag

Materials:

  • Large white poster board
  • Red, white and blue paint (washable)
  • Paintbrush
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Star stencil
  • Tiny hands
  • Newspaper

Instructions:

  • Stir up students’ patriotic spirit by making “handmade” flags for Memorial Day.
  • Show students the official U.S. flag, and discuss its characteristics (colors, stripes, stars, etc.)
  • Place the poster board on the floor or large table. Put a layer of newspaper under the poster board to prevent the paint from staining or bleeding through the paper.
  • With the pencil and ruler, draw a box in the top-left corner of the board for the 50 stars. Then, sketch parallel lines for the 13 stripes.
  • Paint the box blue. (This can be done beforehand so that it will be dry in time for students to paint the stars.)     
  • Using the stencil, have students paint the 50 white stars in the blue area.
  • Use the paintbrush to paint a thin layer of red paint on the student's hand. Then, help him correctly position his hand on the flag and firmly press the hand on the poster board. Continue to use paint handprints until the red stripes are completed.
  • Allow the paint to dry and put the handprint flag on display!

Memorial Day Acrostic Poem

Materials:

  • White paper
  • Colored markers or pencils

Instructions:

  • Discuss the importance of the Memorial Day holiday with students. Then, teach them how to write acrostic poems and show examples.
  • Encourage students to choose a word such as America, Freedom or Soldier.
  • Write the letters vertically down the paper (one letter in each row).
  • Use the letters to start each line of writing and ensure each line relates to Memorial Day. For example, if a student chooses the word Freedom, the first line could read: F - Fought for our freedom.
  • Have students decorate their poems with artwork.
  • Optional: encourage students to read their poems to the group.