Memorial Day weekend is a perfect time to participate in family activities such as barbeques, backyard lawn games, and beach trips. But it can also make a positive impact on your kids to teach them the more serious meaning behind Memorial Day.
As you pack in the family fun during this three-day weekend, try incorporating some patriotic Memorial Day activities that give your kids a greater appreciation for our country and its military.
The Meaning of Memorial Day
Memorial Day is a time to honor and remember the military who have served our country and are no longer with us. The holiday first began in 1868 as a day called Decoration Day, where Civil War soldiers’ graves were decorated with wreaths, flowers, and flags. In 1967, Memorial Day was officially named a U.S. holiday, and is still a time when families pay respect to the military and honor their sacrifices.
How to Celebrate Memorial Day
To commemorate the holiday, these interactive family activities will entertain and educate kids about the true meaning of Memorial Day and create unforgettable family memories.
Head to the Museum
Many museums host special events and concert band performances to commemorate fallen U.S. service members. Some museums host special exhibits, with paintings, war medals, uniforms, and military vehicles on display. There are also war museums across the country you can visit. Make sure to check your local museum’s website and see what special events are taking place that weekend.
Visit a Cemetery
This Memorial Day activity does not have to be a somber occasion. Rather, it can be a time to honor and celebrate our fallen soldiers. Have your family decorate the graves of soldiers at your local cemetery with flags, flowers, and wreaths. If you have a deceased friend or family member who was a soldier, this is a perfect time to honor their memory and teach your children about your family history.
Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most famous spots to visit, having served as a Union Army burial site during the Civil War. At this site there are over 400,000 people buried. While visiting, you can watch the “changing of the guard” ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and visit John F. Kennedy’s grave site.
Take a Road Trip
Go on a family adventure within your state or across state lines to discover important American monuments and learn about our country’s history! Keep the kids entertained in the car with the personalized storybook My U.S.A. Road Trip and the matching scratch-off map of the United States. As you drive, your kids can scratch off the states they have visited and learn about the states names while they read! During rest stops, try pulling out the personalized family board game Our Family’s Race Across the U.S.A., with personalized game pieces featuring the names and photos of your family members! This fitting Memorial Day game activity will help build an appreciation and love for America.
While there are too many Memorial Day destination spots to mention, we have included some of the most renowned ones below.
Destination Spots for Memorial Day
- Pearl Harbor: This historic World War II naval base in Hawaii contains important memorials, such as the USS Arizona
- Gettysburg National Military Park: In Gettysburg, Pennsylvania you can learn about the toughest battle in the Civil War.
- National World War II Museum: This six-acre campus in New Orleans contains numerous themed buildings with more than 250,000 artifacts and offers children’s programs.
- The Liberty Bell: Located in Independence National Historical Park in Pennsylvania, the Liberty Bell is a famous symbol of American independence.
- The National Mall: The National Mall in Washington, D.C. is home to some of the most famous monuments in America, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol Building. It also borders the Smithsonian Museums.
Watch a Parade
Towns small and large often host Memorial Day parades that are perfect for younger and older children! For festive family fun, dress up in your most patriotic attire and bring flags to wave as the parade passes. To keep your kids entertained while you wait, play a personalized matching alphabet game. With these games, there are multiple ways to play – match the illustration, find the letter match to every card you flip over or use them as alphabet flash cards. You can even make up your own game!
Patriotic Craft: Popsicle Stick Flags
This Memorial Day craft activity is fun for the whole family. When you are done, this popsicle stick flag can be hung on your door, in your house, or outside on a garden stake to celebrate America and the military! You’ll need:
- 1 box craft popsicle sticks (Jumbo Size is preferred)
- Elmer’s glue
- Paint brush
- Red, white, and blue Paint
- Star foam stickers in white
Line three popsicle sticks vertical on your table, about three inches apart from each other. Glue one popsicle stick horizontal across the first two popsicle sticks. Then glue a second popsicle stick across the second and third horizontal popsicle sticks. Line up this popsicle stick with the first one you glued down. Repeat this process until you have covered the entire area with popsicle sticks. If you are using jumbo craft sticks, you should only need to glue one stick across and continue the process below your first one.
Paint a blue square in the upper left-hand corner of your popsicle stick flag. Now paint the first popsicle at the top red, the next white, and repeat this process to color your flag’s stripes. Finally, glue white stars into the blue square of your flag.
To hang your craft flag, cut a long strip of string and glue one end to the back of your flag. Repeat this process with the other end of the string. When dry, hang your popsicle stick flag for everyone to see!