The Cost of Our Freedom

Each year on the last Monday in May we honor the memory of the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Originally known as Decoration Day, a day set aside in 1868 to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers, Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Our feature book for our Memorial Day studies was The Wall by Eve Bunting. You should be able to find a copy at your library, but you can also view a read-aloud video on You Tube if you can’t access the book. After reading the book, be sure to check out the following resources to boost your lessons:

the wall


American soldier serviceman salute flagDo you know the difference between Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day?

Take an online interactive Memorial Day quiz

Read about the history of Memorial Day

Why We Celebrate Memorial Day: A feature from the Smithsonian

Americans at War: Interactive online exhibition about the cost of freedom

Discover the cost of war

Listen to Taps and read about its origin


Activity Books and Printables

Grab this free activity book from the USS Arizona Memorial

This parent and student guide set was created for the Art of the American Soldier gallery at the Constitution Center, but there are some activities that can be used without visiting the Center.  Download the Parent Guide and the Student Guide.

Use these Memorial Day printables from Jumpstart for your elementary students.

Print these free coloring pages (set of 12).


Language Arts

Use this crayon resist activity to practice reading common Memorial Day words or words from one of the books from your Memorial Day reading list

Learn the emotional power of letters and get some letter-writing tips by reading about letter-writing in World War 2.

For older students, download activities and insight for In Flanders Fields (this document is written from a Canadian perspective, but the information is valuable no matter where you are located)!


Arts and Crafts

Make patriotic wreaths or patriotic pinwheels

Design a handprint/footprint bald eagle and flag painting

Create painted coffee filter poppy flowers or make them with cupcake liners for a simpler craft

Make thumbprint poppies with this printable starter sheet – great for including your littles!


Military Museum Virtual Tours

National Museum of the Marine Corps

National Museum of the US Air Force

National Naval Aviation Museum


Video Suggestions


Taking Chance (available on Amazon Prime)

Who Invented Memorial Day?

The history of Memorial Day (from the US Dept of Veteran’s Affairs)

All About the Holidays:  Memorial Day

America’s National Holidays (available on Amazon Prime)

Holidays for Kids

Take a small tour of Arlington National Cemetery

View the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery

Watch Arlington: Field of Honor, a film by National Geographic (currently available on DVD from Netflix)


Additional Library Book Suggestions

hh flanders

In Flander’s Fields:  The Story of the Poem by John McCrae

America’s White Table

Memorial Day:  Rookie Read-About Holidays (for young readers)

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