Memorial Day Activities, Lesson Plans & Printables

What Is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is an important national holiday that honors and remembers those who died serving in the U.S. military. Once known as Decoration Day, this holiday originated following the American Civil War, when many cities held observances in May for the families of soldiers killed in battle, and citizens placed flowers on the graves of the loved ones they’d lost. Following World War I, its name changed to Memorial Day, and the day was used to honor those who died while serving the United States armed forces.

Originally observed on May 30 every year, Memorial day is now observed on the last Monday in May. This was changed in 1971 to allow for a three-day weekend, enjoyed today as Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day Activities for the Classroom

Browse this collection of Memorial Day worksheets and printables for classroom activities that honor the men and women who lost their lives in American wars. Help your students to understand the meaning of Memorial Day with lesson plans and teaching resources for learning about the U.S. Civil War, World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, as well as the heroes and heroines who have served the country in various ways.

Explore American history with social studies activities, build on students’ reading and writing skills with ELA activities that explore the connection between history and poetry, or develop students’ vocabulary with crosswords and word searches all about Memorial Day and the national anthem.

Memorial Day Videos

View our short videos about the history of Memorial Day and extend your students' knowledge with suggested extension activities for elementary, middle school, and high school grades.

Memorial Day Printables

Your students will enjoy learning about Memorial Day with these printables. Build vocabulary with crosswords, word searches, and word scrambles, or get patriotic with American flag activities and Memorial Day coloring.

Memorial Day Lesson Plans

Help students understand the meaning of Memorial Day with lesson plans on the people, places, and events of World War I and World War II, as well as lessons that explore the connection between history and poetry.

References for Memorial Day

Refer to our encyclopedia-style references as a useful starting point for lessons and classroom activities for Memorial Day.

Art & Music Activities for Memorial Day

Help students feel patriotic for Memorial Day with these printables and activities. Sing patriotic songs, learn more about the national anthem, or get creative with coloring activities.

Memorial Day Language Arts Activities

Combine American history and war history with Language Arts using these activities. Students will explore the poetry of “In Flanders Fields”, develop their essay writing skills, and read about important Americans in the civil war.

American Flag Resources

Help students learn about the American flag as a Memorial Day activity. Activities include learning more about the flag's history and display requirements.

Memorial Day Choice Boards

These Memorial Day activities for students in elementary grades and middle school include ELA and social studies activities. Use the activities to create themed learning centers, or for setting early-finisher, extension, and take-home tasks.

U.S. Civil War Lesson Plans & Printables

Use these warm-ups, references, and hands-on classroom activities to help students learn about the U.S. Civil War.

World War I Lesson Plans & Printables

Explore the battles, weapons, and key events of World War I with these activities and printables. Includes a word search puzzle on major battles, a writing activity, and internet research about propaganda.

World War II Lesson Plans & Printables

Help students learn about and understand the events of World War II and the Holocaust with reading passages, a printable book with activities, and literature guides.

Vietnam War Lesson Plans & Printables

Use these reading passages, critical thinking writing activities, and literature guides to start discussions and help students understand the Vietnam War time period.

War Resources for Social Studies

Use these broader war resources in your social studies lessons to explore concepts of war and find ways to approach discussions about war and violence around the world.
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