Memorial Day is a wonderful time for families to remember our fallen heroes and reflect upon all that has been done in the protection and service of our country. However, this holiday is a bit difficult to put into words for toddlers. However, there are plenty of aspects about this special day that you can teach your little patriot.
How to Teach Your Toddler about Memorial Day
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Literacy and Memorial Day
While it may be difficult to discuss what it means for a soldier to lose his or her life in the service of our country, being a hero is definitely something your toddler can understand. Picture books are a great way to discuss some of these abstract concepts.
Hero Mom by Melinda Hardin
Hero Mom is all about moms that serve in the military. This is such a great read for military families, but it is also a great way to explain the idea that people can be heroes in many different ways. The book describes how a hero may not leap tall buildings in a single bound, but heroes do keep people safe.
This book also explains the different jobs that people in the military might have which helps kids understand the importance of this holidays a little better. The illustrations are wonderful and it is an easy read. This book a great place to start when learning about Memorial Day!
Memorial Day Surprise by Theresa Golding
This book highlights a fun Memorial Day staple…parades! In Memorial Day Surprise, Marco attends the local parade but is wondering where his Grandpa is. Then, all of the sudden, Marco sees his grandfather marching down the street in uniform. I love this idea because a great way to learn about this holiday is through storytelling.
If you or one of your family members have served in the armed forces, get out your uniform, photographs, and medals. Being able to see and touch these items will be a wonderful learning opportunity. Allow your little one to ask questions and try to answer as honestly as possible. Just keep in mind that these little brains can only absorb so much.
The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
I absolutely love this book. It is perfect for opening discussion on a multitude of topics. The premise of The Invisible String is that we are all connected. No matter how far apart we may be, we are all tied together by the love we share. Whether we are on the other side of the country, the world, or even if one of us is up in heaven, we are still connected by our invisible strings.
I love the way this book approaches the idea of being separated for a short time or long. It would be wonderful to read before a family member deploys or if you have lost a loved one.
Related Post: How to Help Your Toddler Cope with Grief
Math and Memorial Day
Counting and Sorting Stars
Counting and sorting are skills that you will want to reinforce again and again. I found these great star embellishments on Amazon. They come in the patriotic red, white, and blue, so there is one way to sort! However, I also love that they are different sizes. You can ask your toddler to sort by color, size, and even sparkly/non-sparkly. Then, ask your toddler to count each group.
You can provide the categories for your toddler or ask him or her to create their own categories for sorting. When counting, encourage your child to touch each button with their finger to reinforce 1:1 correspondence.
You can use a variety of objects for patterning that you can repurpose later for decor. Strips of paper, confetti, paper plates, napkins, and straws will all work. Think red, white, and blue with lots of different stars and stripes patterns.
The idea is to allow your toddler to identify patterns, as well as create patterns of their own. An A-B pattern is the place to start. Show your toddler how to create a red-blue-red-blue pattern. Or starts-stripes-stars-stripes pattern, of course! Then, you can add on to creating A-B-C patterns like red-white-blue. Or A-B-B or A-B-B-C. Determine how well your toddler is mastering the pattern before moving on.
Related Post: How to Be a Number Hero
Memorial Day Crafts
Paper Straw Flag
Now that your toddler is an expert at patterns, why not use those same paper straws and create a flag? Ask your toddler to glue the striped straws to a piece of construction paper or card stock for the stripes. Cut the starred straws in half to create the stars section of the flag. It does not have to be perfect! Use this craft to reinforce the skill of patterning while also teaching how to appropriately use liquid glue!
Memorial Day Sensory Bottle
This activity is not only a fun craft, but sensory bottles are also very soothing. (See my related post below about how these bottles can actually calm your toddler during a tantrum! It really works!) For this holiday, think patriotic.
- VOSS Water Bottles (Plastic) VOSS also makes glass water bottles, but glass and toddlers certainly do not mix.
- Color Glitter Glue Set This particular set includes all of your basic colors. For this activity, you will want to use the red, blue, or silver.
- Silver Stars Confetti You could also use multi-colored stars, but the silver has a good amount of sparkle.
- Drink the water from the VOSS bottle and then rinse completely.
- Add the glitter glue of your choice. The more you add, the slower the confetti will fall. When I made Frozen themed sensory bottles, I added different amounts of glue to each bottle so the pieces inside would fall at different rates. If you are using this for a behavior intervention, you may want to add more glue to give your toddler enough time to calm down from a tantrum!
- Add the confetti.
- Use hot glue gun or heavy duty tape (like duct tape) to seal the bottle.
- Shake and enjoy!
Related Post: A Magic Potion for Toddler Tantrums
Handprint and Footprint Crafts
We do handprint or footprint crafts for most holidays. I save them as keepsakes for myself or give them to family members as gifts. My daughter loves them because she can get her hands and feet messy!
I love all of these crafts that I personally have not chosen which one we will do this year! Thank goodness it is a three-day weekend to fit in plenty of time for crafting!
There is no better way to learn about a holiday than to celebrate it! If you are fortunate enough to get the holiday off and enjoy a three-day weekend, take advantage of the extra family time. Whether it be indulging in some delicious barbecue (our personal favorite) or attending the local parade, enjoy these precious moments that you have with your family. This holiday is about remembering those that we have lost. A wonderful way to honor them is to appreciate every second you have with those you love.