Martin Luther King Jr.: civil rights activist, nonviolence champion, Nobel Peace Prize awardee, assassinated martyr. Help students understand why the that holiday honors his life goes beyond having a day off school!
Veteran’s Day is observed on November 11 each year, the anniversary of the day World War I ended. Help your students to truly appreciate our veterans’ sacrifices by selecting one or more of the ideas listed here.
#1: Gallery Wall of Veteran Photos
On Veteran’s Day, ask your students to bring a photo of a veteran they know. It could be a parent, aunt, cousin, great-grandfather, or even a neighbor. Have students bring the following:
- An 8×10 copy of their veteran’s photo
- An index card with information that includes:
- Veteran’s name
- Student’s name & relationship to veteran
- Term of service
- Branch of service and rank
- Country for which the veteran served
- Any notable information about the service
Keep the photos posted in your halls for a few weeks–not only does this beautifully honor those who have served, but it also is perfect to renew the feelings of gratitude that we seek to magnify throughout the Thanksgiving season.
#2: Poppies & Poetry
Poppies are a classic, but not all your students may be aware of their significance. Choose a way to share “In Flanders Fields” with your students, whether you simply read the text and background, watch a video, or show a picture book. (Alternatively, share Cheryl Dyson’s poem for a piece suited for very young audiences). Then, ask students to find meaningful ways they can express their understanding and appreciation for this poem:
#3: Letters to Soldiers
Have students write letters expressing gratitude to a soldier. Mail these to soldiers at your closest military base or visit websites like Operation Gratitude. Students could also share their pieces created in the above Poppies & Poetry activity.
#4: Introduce the Veteran’s History Project
This project was started by Congress in 2000, and is sponsored by AARP. The goal is to “collect, preserve, and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war.” As a class, you could:
- Discuss the interview questions listed in the Field Kit, and practice interview skills in class.
- Complete the VHP preparations as a class:
- 15-minute Field Kit Companion Video
- Search the collections database
- Print forms
- Register for the VHP RSS feed (and add to your class blog if you have one!)
- Locate a veteran to interview (either a student’s family member or someone found in a local veterans service organization), then hold the interview in class if he or she can make it, or by phone.
- While volunteer student interviewers must be 10th graders or older, younger students can participate in interviewing family members. Additionally, donations are welcome, so your class could alternatively hold a fundraiser for the project!
#5: Favorite Videos
- History Channel’s “Bet You Didn’t Know” and videos on Veteran’s Day (they also have other wonderful videos like “Joe & Benji the Vet Dog”, photo galleries, and a fact sheet)
- Veteran’s Day 2014–Freedom Isn’t Free: footage of actual war scenes (appropriate for school) and historic photos
- Armed Forces Medley from the National Memorial Day Concert 2010: recognizes each branch of the United States Military
Earth Day in 2014 will be on April 22nd. Whether you’re looking for ideas for your class or to personally make the world a greener place, check out our 10 activities here…
#10: Share Acts of Green
When you do anything for Earth Day, share your “Act of Green” to the earthday.org website to help reach them reach their goal of 2 billion Acts of Green (currently just over 1 billion)!
#9: Watch some videos
We’ve listed some inspiring Earth Day videos below:
- Earth Day Network has its own Youtube channel! Plus, these short videos highlight suggestions for “Acts of Green” from celebrities and Olympians.
- PBS NOVA video: Earth From Space (1 hr. 52 min.): Fascinating video if you have time for the whole thing or just part of it. Shows how ecosystems and climates are globally interconnected from satellite perspectives.
- History Channel Global Warming Video (3 minutes)
- History Channel: Listen to Margaret Mead speak at the first Earth Day (1 minute)
- Youtube video song for kids that goes over ideas to Reduce, Reuse, & Recycle. (2 ½ minutes)
#8: Take a clean-up nature walk
As a class or as an individual, this is a great way to take care of our earth in a simple and immediate way!
#7: Explore the outdoors to appreciate nature
Have class outside on Earth Day! Also, be sure to look up events organized in your area for outdoor Earth Day celebrations.
#6: Take your Global Footprint quiz
Earthday.org provides this interactive Global Footprint quiz to help you explore ideas to change or improve your footprint. Nature Conservancy also has a similar Carbon Footprint Calculator.
#5: Learn about composting
This Earthday.org link about composting provides detailed instructions as well as a pledge!
#4: Contact your local representative to take action
Various green legislation is currently being evaluated, such as Environmental Education. This is an especially great option if your class has been studying government this year!
#3: Learn about various donation programs
If your administration approves, perhaps your class may choose to have a fundraiser to contribute to! Even if a fundraiser isn’t an option, it’s still great for students to discuss and perhaps bring home ideas for action!
- Adopt an Acre with the Nature Conservancy’s program to conserve coral reef, African grasslands, and more. Donations start at $50
- The Canopy Project with Earth Day Network to plant 10 million trees. Donations start at $35.
- Species Adoptions from WWF. Donations start at $50, and you will receive a plush animal, bag, and picture in return!
- Plant a Billion Trees Campaign with Nature Conservancy. Donations start at $25.
#2: Send a nature Ecard
This is a great way to share the beauties of nature and to encourage its protection. Plus, it’s free!
#1: Utilize social media
Pick your favorite social media platforms to spread the word on Earth Day! Below are a few resources to try out!
*View additional Green Actions with accompanying lesson plans on earthday.org’s website here. Happy Earth Day!
Columbus Day was declared a federal holiday in the United States in 1934 by President Roosevelt after lobbying from a Catholic fraternal association called Knights of Columbus. Since then, many have questioned the appropriateness of celebrating Columbus by bringing some of his lesser-known actions to light. Let’s lay it out and look at the myths and truths surrounding Christopher Columbus and his legacy: