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November 9, 2018

Celebrate Veterans Day With a Fun SEL Lesson!

By Scholastic Editors
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8

    Key Takeaways

    • Introduce your students to veterans from all walks of life, building empathy for the men and women who serve in the military.
    • Gratitude is a key part of Social and Emotional Learning. Encourage students to show their thankfulness by writing to a veteran.
    • Use a free article about a wounded veteran to spark a conversation about how we cope with anxiety.

    In my school, there’s been a big push to incorporate Social and Emotional Learning in the classroom. That means it’s always in the back of my mind when planning lessons. But when I set out to plan something for Veterans Day, I didn’t immediately see a connection.

    Then I received my latest issue of Scholastic News magazine. In the accompanying Teacher’s Guide, I found an SEL activity that used a story about a veteran to explore coping skills. Perfect, I thought! So I set about to create a lesson using the story and activity at its center.

    If you’re not familiar with Scholastic News, it’s a fascinating nonfiction magazine with editions for grades one through six. I use it every other week in my fourth grade classroom, and my kids love it! If you’re a kindergarten teacher, they also have a magazine for you called Let’s Find Out. It’s a colorful and fun introduction to reading and learning.

    The editors of these titles have been kind enough to give teachers FREE access to their Veterans Day resources. Just click on your grade and check out some of their SEL lesson ideas below.

    Kindergarten

    Grade 1

    Grade 2

    Grade 3

    Grade 4

    Grades 5/6

    Watch a Video About Veterans

    Each magazine comes with an introductory video to share with your students. I recommend you start with these. They build background knowledge about veterans and the 5 branches of the military. For younger learners, it’s a great primer and gets them excited to read. For older students, they’ll dive deeper into the branches of the military and learn about veterans with disabilities.

    Get to Know Veterans

    The articles in each magazine are a little different, so I’ve broken them out by grade to give you a better idea of what they’re like.

    Grades K–2

    These magazines do a great job building empathy for veterans. Their wonderful articles introduce students to all kinds of veterans: a dad, a mom, a grandmother, a neighbor, and even a dog! It’s important for students to learn that anyone can be a veteran.

    Grade 3

    This edition of Scholastic News has a short article about honoring our veterans. If your students are able though, I’d recommend checking out the more in-depth article available in the grade 4 magazine.

    Grades 4–6

    In these magazines, your students will meet Joe Worley, a veteran who lost part of his leg in Iraq. Thanks to his service dog, Galaxie, he overcomes many of the challenges he faces each day. These articles do a great job of building empathy and introduce your students to two life-changing organizations, America’s VetDogs and Warriors’ Best Friend.

    Thank a Veteran        

     

    Showing gratitude is such an important part of Social and Emotional Learning. Sure, we can teach our students to be grateful for a friend, a favor, or a gift. But what about teaching them to be grateful to a total stranger?

    Operation Gratitude gives kids an awesome opportunity to spread their thanks to veterans and deployed troops. Have your students write a thank you letter to a veteran. To get the creative juices flowing, you can ask them to think about the sacrifices that veterans make in serving our country. For example, some have moved a lot or faced dangerous situations. Many of the magazines have a letter template you can use, here is a sample from Scholastic News for grades 5 and 6. When you’re done, you can bundle up your letters and send them to:

    Operation Gratitude 21100 Lassen Street Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278

    Be sure to include first names only.

    Talk About Coping Skills

    This is the activity that really jumped out at me. The editors of Scholastic News have found a neat way to connect coping skills with Veterans Day. In their article Joe Worley, the injured Iraq war veteran says, “It’s really hard to be upset when you have a dog with its head in your lap.” Ask your students what makes them feel better when they’re anxious or upset. Then challenge them to create a list of activities that they use to stay calm when you’re having a bad day. Then tell students to share their strategies with a partner or the whole class. By the end of  the lesson, your students will be armed with all kinds of new ideas for coping with anxiety or a particularly tough day.

    I love teaching Veterans Day. A few of my students have a family members who served in the military and they always look so proud to talk about them.  It’s also the one of the only times I really get to explore what it means to serve your country. And while I’d never made the connection before, it seems like a perfect topic for a little Social and Emotional Learning. I owe some thanks to the editors of Scholastic News for cluing me in to the connection, but I’m glad they did!

    If you’d like to try these magazines for yourself, now is a great time. They’re 40% off for the rest of the school year. You can place your order here. They’ve got a lot of great connections to Social and Emotional Learning and my students look forward to them all year long!

    Key Takeaways

    • Introduce your students to veterans from all walks of life, building empathy for the men and women who serve in the military.
    • Gratitude is a key part of Social and Emotional Learning. Encourage students to show their thankfulness by writing to a veteran.
    • Use a free article about a wounded veteran to spark a conversation about how we cope with anxiety.

    In my school, there’s been a big push to incorporate Social and Emotional Learning in the classroom. That means it’s always in the back of my mind when planning lessons. But when I set out to plan something for Veterans Day, I didn’t immediately see a connection.

    Then I received my latest issue of Scholastic News magazine. In the accompanying Teacher’s Guide, I found an SEL activity that used a story about a veteran to explore coping skills. Perfect, I thought! So I set about to create a lesson using the story and activity at its center.

    If you’re not familiar with Scholastic News, it’s a fascinating nonfiction magazine with editions for grades one through six. I use it every other week in my fourth grade classroom, and my kids love it! If you’re a kindergarten teacher, they also have a magazine for you called Let’s Find Out. It’s a colorful and fun introduction to reading and learning.

    The editors of these titles have been kind enough to give teachers FREE access to their Veterans Day resources. Just click on your grade and check out some of their SEL lesson ideas below.

    Kindergarten

    Grade 1

    Grade 2

    Grade 3

    Grade 4

    Grades 5/6

    Watch a Video About Veterans

    Each magazine comes with an introductory video to share with your students. I recommend you start with these. They build background knowledge about veterans and the 5 branches of the military. For younger learners, it’s a great primer and gets them excited to read. For older students, they’ll dive deeper into the branches of the military and learn about veterans with disabilities.

    Get to Know Veterans

    The articles in each magazine are a little different, so I’ve broken them out by grade to give you a better idea of what they’re like.

    Grades K–2

    These magazines do a great job building empathy for veterans. Their wonderful articles introduce students to all kinds of veterans: a dad, a mom, a grandmother, a neighbor, and even a dog! It’s important for students to learn that anyone can be a veteran.

    Grade 3

    This edition of Scholastic News has a short article about honoring our veterans. If your students are able though, I’d recommend checking out the more in-depth article available in the grade 4 magazine.

    Grades 4–6

    In these magazines, your students will meet Joe Worley, a veteran who lost part of his leg in Iraq. Thanks to his service dog, Galaxie, he overcomes many of the challenges he faces each day. These articles do a great job of building empathy and introduce your students to two life-changing organizations, America’s VetDogs and Warriors’ Best Friend.

    Thank a Veteran        

     

    Showing gratitude is such an important part of Social and Emotional Learning. Sure, we can teach our students to be grateful for a friend, a favor, or a gift. But what about teaching them to be grateful to a total stranger?

    Operation Gratitude gives kids an awesome opportunity to spread their thanks to veterans and deployed troops. Have your students write a thank you letter to a veteran. To get the creative juices flowing, you can ask them to think about the sacrifices that veterans make in serving our country. For example, some have moved a lot or faced dangerous situations. Many of the magazines have a letter template you can use, here is a sample from Scholastic News for grades 5 and 6. When you’re done, you can bundle up your letters and send them to:

    Operation Gratitude 21100 Lassen Street Chatsworth, CA 91311-4278

    Be sure to include first names only.

    Talk About Coping Skills

    This is the activity that really jumped out at me. The editors of Scholastic News have found a neat way to connect coping skills with Veterans Day. In their article Joe Worley, the injured Iraq war veteran says, “It’s really hard to be upset when you have a dog with its head in your lap.” Ask your students what makes them feel better when they’re anxious or upset. Then challenge them to create a list of activities that they use to stay calm when you’re having a bad day. Then tell students to share their strategies with a partner or the whole class. By the end of  the lesson, your students will be armed with all kinds of new ideas for coping with anxiety or a particularly tough day.

    I love teaching Veterans Day. A few of my students have a family members who served in the military and they always look so proud to talk about them.  It’s also the one of the only times I really get to explore what it means to serve your country. And while I’d never made the connection before, it seems like a perfect topic for a little Social and Emotional Learning. I owe some thanks to the editors of Scholastic News for cluing me in to the connection, but I’m glad they did!

    If you’d like to try these magazines for yourself, now is a great time. They’re 40% off for the rest of the school year. You can place your order here. They’ve got a lot of great connections to Social and Emotional Learning and my students look forward to them all year long!

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