Celebrating Memorial Day with Young Kids

Memorial Day represents a day off work and the first real get-together opportunity of the summer months for many, but the day means much more than that. Impressing that upon children can be fun and educational.

Memorial Day is also known as Decoration Day and honors those who lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces. Memorial Day is always celebrated on the last Monday in May, and the federal holiday always means a day off school and work, as well as an unofficial start to summer. Memorial Day is joined by Veterans Day, in November, which commemorates all veterans, and Armed Forces Day, earlier in May, which recognizes currently serving members.

Start the weekend, or day, with a trip to a parade. Many local municipalities have parades for Memorial Day, and these offer the perfect time to start introducing kids to the important concepts behind the holiday. These parades usually have many veterans and members of the armed forces, and if your family doesn’t have any military members, this can be an educational moment for kids.

If you have military members in the family, or have lost family members serving, Memorial Day is a great opportunity for children to have a conversation with them and about them. Driving home the importance of sacrifice for something bigger in this context might only work with older kids, but it is an important conversation for families.

After the parades and solemn services, it not a bad idea to break out some crafts and have some fun.

Get out the art and craft supplies and join the kids in making American flag decorations. Let kids get creative and use the craft session as an excuse to teach them about the flag and what it means to Americans. Going over the symbolism of what the stars and stripe mean can act as a refresher or give the kids a leg up when that lesson comes up in school.

Take the opportunity to bake a few Memorial Day-specific desserts. Use food coloring or icing to create red, white and blue cookies and cupcakes to spruce up celebrations.

Finally, Memorial Day is a great time to get together with other family members for some cookouts. If there are enough kids gathered together, they will have a great time running around and creating their own fun with other kids their age.