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November 9, 2015

Veterans Day for Younger Learners

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    Veterans Day has always been one of those hard days to talk about in kindergarten. At least it has been for me. I always want to teach my students about what a veteran is and how our country owes so much to the brave men and women of the armed forces. My problem has always been how to get across so many big ideas to kids at such a young age. Last year, I found the book Coming Home by Greg Ruth and added it to my top 12 books of 2014 list. With this book I finally found my inspiration!

     

    Before the lesson starts, I first send this note home with my students asking about family members who are veterans. We use the information from their responses later during our Veterans Day learning.

    Our schools are closed on Veterans Day so I talk about this topic on the last school day before November 11. I know fellow teachers who prefer to teach about Veterans Day the day after the holiday. I prefer my students to have an understanding of the holiday so that as they hear information from their families and on television they have some background knowledge to build upon. This is a personal preference.

    Coming Home CoverI begin my Veterans Day teaching by sharing the book Coming Home with my class. This is a wordless picture book that many adults become emotional over when I share it with them. You will get an idea of what I am talking about from this review in The New York Times. The kids love the dog in the story and rejoice at the ending of the book when the boy’s mother comes home from a tour of duty.

    This book introduces the idea of people protecting our country and how men and women serve in this crucial capacity. The idea of women serving in the military is new for some of the younger boys, although with each passing year it seems to surprise fewer and fewer males.

    Some of the vocabulary words that I introduce while sharing Coming Home are freedom and reunited. Since this is a wordless picture book, I make sure that I use these words while talking about each picture. During this time, I also introduce the idea of the military dog tag. This means that I have to discuss how some of the brave men and women who defend our freedom don’t come home and because they all wear dog tags, we know who they are so that their families can be told.

    Hero Dad Cover As I tell the story of Coming Home I reintroduce the ideas of dog tags, freedom, and reunion. This leads to the two books that I read next, Hero Dad and Hero Mom. Both of these books are written by Melinda Hardin and beautifully illustrated by Bryan Langdo. Simple but strong text shows how our military personnel perform duties that we should be grateful for each and every day. The illustrations are relatable enough for the youngest readers to connect with.

    After reading both books, we discuss what we learned: all of the jobs that our military perform around the world. Discussing these books is also when I make sure to mention that for many people, the military is their job. I relate that to several jobs that I know my students’ parents have.

    Hero Mom CoverAfter reading and discussing Hero Dad and Hero Mom is when I really talk about the word veteran. I begin by asking my class if anyone knows what we call a person who serves in our military who then retires or leaves to do another job. Usually, a few students do know this word, but I make sure that I repeat the word and the definition. I then ask if any of my students know any veterans. This is when I pull out the responses from the note I sent home. I announce each veteran’s name and write it on the board.

    Finally, the class uses this dog tag letter template that I made to write thank you notes to the veterans listed on the board. I assign a veteran to each student. I make sure that I have several extra copies of the dog tag sheet ready to go because several students will make initial errors and we want their best work (not perfect, just their best) to send to our veterans.

    The Wall CoverBefore the end of the day, if there is time, I read Eve Bunting’s beautiful book, The Wall. This book really ties all the ideas together in a profound way. It is a great book that honors our best and really ties in the concept of the day. Ronald Himler’s illustrations bring the memorial to life.

    I would like to invite all my readers to use this coupon from the Scholastic Store for savings during a period of time in November. I hope it comes in handy for all the readers on your gift list!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Pinterest and Twitter.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    Veterans Day has always been one of those hard days to talk about in kindergarten. At least it has been for me. I always want to teach my students about what a veteran is and how our country owes so much to the brave men and women of the armed forces. My problem has always been how to get across so many big ideas to kids at such a young age. Last year, I found the book Coming Home by Greg Ruth and added it to my top 12 books of 2014 list. With this book I finally found my inspiration!

     

    Before the lesson starts, I first send this note home with my students asking about family members who are veterans. We use the information from their responses later during our Veterans Day learning.

    Our schools are closed on Veterans Day so I talk about this topic on the last school day before November 11. I know fellow teachers who prefer to teach about Veterans Day the day after the holiday. I prefer my students to have an understanding of the holiday so that as they hear information from their families and on television they have some background knowledge to build upon. This is a personal preference.

    Coming Home CoverI begin my Veterans Day teaching by sharing the book Coming Home with my class. This is a wordless picture book that many adults become emotional over when I share it with them. You will get an idea of what I am talking about from this review in The New York Times. The kids love the dog in the story and rejoice at the ending of the book when the boy’s mother comes home from a tour of duty.

    This book introduces the idea of people protecting our country and how men and women serve in this crucial capacity. The idea of women serving in the military is new for some of the younger boys, although with each passing year it seems to surprise fewer and fewer males.

    Some of the vocabulary words that I introduce while sharing Coming Home are freedom and reunited. Since this is a wordless picture book, I make sure that I use these words while talking about each picture. During this time, I also introduce the idea of the military dog tag. This means that I have to discuss how some of the brave men and women who defend our freedom don’t come home and because they all wear dog tags, we know who they are so that their families can be told.

    Hero Dad Cover As I tell the story of Coming Home I reintroduce the ideas of dog tags, freedom, and reunion. This leads to the two books that I read next, Hero Dad and Hero Mom. Both of these books are written by Melinda Hardin and beautifully illustrated by Bryan Langdo. Simple but strong text shows how our military personnel perform duties that we should be grateful for each and every day. The illustrations are relatable enough for the youngest readers to connect with.

    After reading both books, we discuss what we learned: all of the jobs that our military perform around the world. Discussing these books is also when I make sure to mention that for many people, the military is their job. I relate that to several jobs that I know my students’ parents have.

    Hero Mom CoverAfter reading and discussing Hero Dad and Hero Mom is when I really talk about the word veteran. I begin by asking my class if anyone knows what we call a person who serves in our military who then retires or leaves to do another job. Usually, a few students do know this word, but I make sure that I repeat the word and the definition. I then ask if any of my students know any veterans. This is when I pull out the responses from the note I sent home. I announce each veteran’s name and write it on the board.

    Finally, the class uses this dog tag letter template that I made to write thank you notes to the veterans listed on the board. I assign a veteran to each student. I make sure that I have several extra copies of the dog tag sheet ready to go because several students will make initial errors and we want their best work (not perfect, just their best) to send to our veterans.

    The Wall CoverBefore the end of the day, if there is time, I read Eve Bunting’s beautiful book, The Wall. This book really ties all the ideas together in a profound way. It is a great book that honors our best and really ties in the concept of the day. Ronald Himler’s illustrations bring the memorial to life.

    I would like to invite all my readers to use this coupon from the Scholastic Store for savings during a period of time in November. I hope it comes in handy for all the readers on your gift list!

    Connect with me, dad2ella, on Pinterest and Twitter.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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