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November 6, 2017

Veterans Day Writing Activity: Thank a Hero

By Genia Connell
Grades 3–5

    Thank you for your service. We’ve heard these words frequently over the years, as our country has sent thousands of troops overseas to serve our country and protect our way of life. Each year I try to do a service project that helps my students understand the sacrifice that military members make when they enlist in the armed services.

    When the first wave of military members was sent to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq following 9/11, my sister Mary, a Marine Corps veteran, formed a service group that collected donations and distributed them to Marines deployed outside the United States. Under her tutelage, our third-grade classes collect donations and send dozens of stuffed Christmas stockings and cards overseas. Our students always beam with pride knowing their cards and donations will be sent to those serving far away from home.

    Over the past few years, my sister has also helped make me aware of a plight in our own community: veterans in need. A few years back, our student council collected coats for homeless veterans in our area, a widespread problem I had been blind to until then. We also made get-well cards my sister could take with her to the hospital.

    Just as I was thinking of what our class could do to commemorate Veterans Day this year, Scholastic News (Edition 3) arrived with a cover story about a military family. The article, "An Army Family," tells the story of the sacrifices everyone in the family had made, including their two young children, when both parents were deployed to the Middle East at the same time. Checking the online resources, I was thrilled to see a graphic organizer designed to help my students write a friendly letter to a veteran.

    Writing a Letter: Step-by-Step

    After reading the issue together on the interactive whiteboard, my class watched the integrated video, "Thank You, Veterans!" This short video really helped my third graders understand what military members do while they are serving. It was the perfect lead into a short lesson on writing a friendly letter.

     

    Following the video, my students collaboratively brainstormed different reasons they were grateful to those who have served their country. Then, using the graphic organizer, Write to a Hero!, I went over the parts a friendly letter should include. I modeled drafting of a letter on the whiteboard.

    Using the sentence stems provided, my class outlined heartfelt letters to veterans. We also created a word bank using words suggested by my class.

     

    Once students had completed their rough drafts, they wrote good copies on stationery I had downloaded and printed from Scholastic Teachables.

    Finally, we put all of our letters in an envelope and sent them off to the address listed in the Scholastic News article.

    Operation Gratitude

    This project was a great way to kick off a letter writing unit, and an even better way to help my students understand why we commemorate veterans on Veterans Day. I’m hoping you’ll set aside a few minutes this week to help your students thank veterans for their service.

    If you would like to send letters from your class, address them to:

    Operation Gratitude

    21100 Lassen Street

    Chatsworth, CA 91311

    For more ideas on observing Veterans Day, check out Scholastic’s Veterans Day collection of lesson plans, tips, and ideas.

    Thanks for reading,

    Genia Connell

    Books for Veterans Day

     

     

    Thank you for your service. We’ve heard these words frequently over the years, as our country has sent thousands of troops overseas to serve our country and protect our way of life. Each year I try to do a service project that helps my students understand the sacrifice that military members make when they enlist in the armed services.

    When the first wave of military members was sent to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq following 9/11, my sister Mary, a Marine Corps veteran, formed a service group that collected donations and distributed them to Marines deployed outside the United States. Under her tutelage, our third-grade classes collect donations and send dozens of stuffed Christmas stockings and cards overseas. Our students always beam with pride knowing their cards and donations will be sent to those serving far away from home.

    Over the past few years, my sister has also helped make me aware of a plight in our own community: veterans in need. A few years back, our student council collected coats for homeless veterans in our area, a widespread problem I had been blind to until then. We also made get-well cards my sister could take with her to the hospital.

    Just as I was thinking of what our class could do to commemorate Veterans Day this year, Scholastic News (Edition 3) arrived with a cover story about a military family. The article, "An Army Family," tells the story of the sacrifices everyone in the family had made, including their two young children, when both parents were deployed to the Middle East at the same time. Checking the online resources, I was thrilled to see a graphic organizer designed to help my students write a friendly letter to a veteran.

    Writing a Letter: Step-by-Step

    After reading the issue together on the interactive whiteboard, my class watched the integrated video, "Thank You, Veterans!" This short video really helped my third graders understand what military members do while they are serving. It was the perfect lead into a short lesson on writing a friendly letter.

     

    Following the video, my students collaboratively brainstormed different reasons they were grateful to those who have served their country. Then, using the graphic organizer, Write to a Hero!, I went over the parts a friendly letter should include. I modeled drafting of a letter on the whiteboard.

    Using the sentence stems provided, my class outlined heartfelt letters to veterans. We also created a word bank using words suggested by my class.

     

    Once students had completed their rough drafts, they wrote good copies on stationery I had downloaded and printed from Scholastic Teachables.

    Finally, we put all of our letters in an envelope and sent them off to the address listed in the Scholastic News article.

    Operation Gratitude

    This project was a great way to kick off a letter writing unit, and an even better way to help my students understand why we commemorate veterans on Veterans Day. I’m hoping you’ll set aside a few minutes this week to help your students thank veterans for their service.

    If you would like to send letters from your class, address them to:

    Operation Gratitude

    21100 Lassen Street

    Chatsworth, CA 91311

    For more ideas on observing Veterans Day, check out Scholastic’s Veterans Day collection of lesson plans, tips, and ideas.

    Thanks for reading,

    Genia Connell

    Books for Veterans Day

     

     

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