Here are some FREE worksheets to help you teach your class about Memorial Day. Students will be interested in learning about the history, which began as Decoration Day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers.
Two reading comprehension sheets will be useful to elementary school teachers: one from an ESOL website that offers an interesting view of the holiday since it was not written for American students. A worksheet telling a story about a boy whose father is a soldier brings a more personal viewpoint. Note: during the ceremony, the boy “whispered a prayer to God;” you have to decide if that is okay in your school. If you want quick word-search, vocabulary, and crossword puzzles, you can find them all here. The sheets are not particularly educational—just sponge activities, really, but will be popular for the requesting-homework crowd.
The Internet abounds with histories of Memorial Day, many quite long for a teacher who just wants to help students mark the day with something other than a barbeque. This article from Time is the perfect quick-study resource for you. The article tells the history of Memorial Day—and the controversy. Memorial Day began as Decoration Day to honor fallen Civil War soldiers. The holiday was so closely linked with the Union that the South refused to celebrate. Only after WWI, when the day was expanded to include all soldiers, did the holiday gain traction nationwide. Some say that expanding the meaning of Decoration Day to all soldiers also diluted the meaning of the holiday that marked the difference between fighting for slavery and freedom.