July 6, 2017

Celebrating Patriotic Holidays in ANY Classroom!

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I have always loved the 4th of July celebration that my home church does every year. They play the US Military Medley and ask that all veterans and active duty military within that branch come down to the front to be honored when their military anthem is played. I love the fact that we take just a few moments to honor these great men and women for their service. As the wife of a U.S. Navy Veteran and a Social Studies teacher, I feel like we cannot take enough time to celebrate these special people and the history of our nation.

I have always made a special effort to incorporate patriotic holidays into my classroom but any teacher in any classroom can do this. Just because you don’t teach Social Studies, doesn’t mean that you can’t take a few minutes to incorporate a patriotic holiday into your curriculum for the day.
Here are just a few ways that I have done this:

Music 

Music is probably my favorite way to incorporate patriotic holidays. There are so many awesome patriotic songs out there from the old songs like Yankee Doodle to the more modern songs celebrating our nation.
  • I like to have music playing when students walk into class or while they are working on independent assignments.
  • Sometimes I will play music and just ask students to write their feelings about the songs or the words. This would work well in an ELA class but would be a great change of pace for a Science or Math class too. Plus this doesn’t take very long either. I usually only do this for maybe a minute more than the time it takes for the song to play. Typically then I would ask for a volunteer or two to share their writing with the class.

Writing

I love to have students write in my classroom and patriotic holidays are no exception. Here are a few writing prompts I have used over the years with students to celebrate patriotic holidays:
  • How does your family celebrate this holiday?
  • Why do you think it is important to celebrate this holiday?
  • What does this holiday mean to you as an American?
  • Give students a patriotic quote or show them a photograph and ask them what it means to them or how it makes them feel.

Videos

I think visuals are especially helpful to students when they aren’t very familiar with the meaning of a holiday. I have used a variety of videos, both commercial and homemade over the years to help me
  • The History Channel usually has short clips about each holiday sharing the history of it. Typically these are less than 5 minutes and could easily be incorporated as a warm-up or prompt for a quick write. For example, here are their July 4th videosthey just posted.
  • I love to show music videos if they tell a story. You could do this as a quick write as well. Here are just a few of my favorites: Letters From Home, Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning, If You Are Reading This, 8th of November, Born in the U.S.A., and God Bless the USA (9/11 Tribute).
    • I like to play several of these music videos so I usually create a YouTube Playlist and let it just play from one to the next. If you have no idea how to do this, check out Amanda Write Now’s post that explains how to do this.
  • My new favorite way to use videos is to interview people that my students know. This past year, I interviewed about 5 different teachers to ask them what they remembered about September 11th and their feelings. I uploaded these to YouTube and had my students watch them. They absolutely loved watching them! I am planning to add to this compilation each year with the goal of getting as many teachers to share their, “9/11 Story,” as I call it.
I don’t think that teachers need to spend all class period discussing a patriotic holiday (outside of Social Studies class) but I think it is a great way to show students how important it is to be an American citizen and support your country. It is also great for them to see their teachers incorporating other content areas into their classroom.
If you would like some additional ideas, I have several items in my store that you might like.

Freebie!

This item was originally created for K-5 teachers but can easily be incorporated into secondary classrooms. This product includes a bulletin board/poster template, a Pledge of Allegiance Writing Assignment, & a Veteran’s Day Web Assignment. It can also give you some ideas of ways you can easily incorporate patriotic holidays into math, ELA, and science classrooms.

Additional Patriotic Products!


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