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Memorial Day in the Classroom: Resources for Teachers

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American flag against a sky blue background made from pieces of torn paper

For most students, Memorial Day means a three-day weekend, one last mini-break before the end of the school year. But the last Monday in May is the perfect opportunity to use class time to honor the men and women who lost their lives in war.

Here are some of the best lesson plan resources for Memorial Day, along with some engaging multimedia resources. It's not always easy to capture student attention late in the school year, but hopefully these resources help. For starters, here's a brief video from The History Channel that looks at the origins of the holiday. In addition, you might also want to check out's Memorial Day resource page.

Fun, Insightful Memorial Day Multimedia

Classroom Ideas for Remembering and Honoring Veterans

  • The NEA's Memorial Day Lesson Plans: Phil Nast, a retired educator and freelance writer, provides some curriculum ideas for exploring the meaning behind the holiday in this National Education Association resource. There are collections for elementary, middle, and high school students, and each roundup features ideas for lesson plans, activities, projects, and a list of relevant materials.
  • Engaging WWII Lesson Plans: The National World War II Museum in New Orleans produced this extensive collection of lesson plans. The lessons are arranged by topics, including "STEM," the "Home Front," and "The War in the Pacific," and they're designed mostly for students in middle and high school. Each plan includes related media, discussion questions, and a downloadable PDF version.
  • ReadWriteThink's Memorial Day Collection: This collection offers a lot of inspiration. Here, you'll find Memorial Day-themed activities, links to useful websites, and six ELA lesson plans.
  • Primary Sources for Memorial Day Reflection: This PBS LearningMedia resource offers links to primary sources, as well as quick ideas for incorporating primary sources into the classroom.
  • Lesson Plans, Sources, and Ideas for Memorial Day: Produced by Education World, this collection offers a ton of great ideas to teaching students about history. The Memorial Day web scavenger hunt is a fun way to engage students. Plus, there are great ideas for small group or whole class activities.
  • Memorial Day in the Classroom: The National Constitution Center produced several useful Memorial Day resources, available at the bottom of the page, that mostly center around wartime artwork. One fresh idea, Comparing and Contrasting Photography and Painting in War Art, is available as a free PDF. This lesson encourages students to analyze artwork from the Center’s Art of the American Solider online gallery.
  • Memorial Day History Lessons From There are some great teaching and learning resources here, with plenty to help teachers and students dive into learning about veterans, war, and its effect on the world.
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Dawn's picture
Algebra Teacher

I recently did a little research on Memorial Day (actually hitting some of the sources you mentioned). I was shocked that there was a national moment of remembrance. I had no idea. My guess is that my students are equally in the dark. I'm playing with an idea on how to incorporate Memorial Day facts will still being true to my curriculum.

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