How to Make Memorial Day Fun & Meaningful for Kids

Published May 3, 2022
Family and children celebrating memorial day

Memorial Day is an exciting day for kids. For many, it means a trip to the beach or heading to a fun parade. However, Memorial Day has a somber meaning that can be difficult for kids to grasp. Learn how to explain Memorial Day to kids in a simple manner with engaging facts; and discover festive activities and crafts you can do together to honor and remember the meaning of the holiday.

How to Explain Memorial Day to Kids

Are you having a bit of trouble getting your little ones to understand the concept of Memorial Day? You are not alone. Memorial Day can be challenging for kids from ages four to eight to grasp. Simply because the concept of death and memorials are a bit more foreign to them. So, it can be beneficial to break the concept down into simple terms they understand.

What Does Memorial Day Celebrate?

When explaining Memorial Day, keep it simple. If kids lost a pet or grandparent who now have a memorial, you can talk about the stone at the cemetery or the rock you have in your garden to remember them. You might also show them a memorial or famous cemetery on the internet. Allowing them to see a memorial can solidify the concept. For example, you can pull up the website for the Arlington National Cemetery and show them a few of the pictures of the graves. After your child understands the meaning of a memorial, tell them that Memorial Day celebrates the brave soldiers who have died in the war. So, you are celebrating or honoring U.S. soldiers who have died in wars. To ensure understanding, you might need to also give a simple definition of war.

When Memorial Day Is Celebrated and Other Interesting Facts

The "what" is the most essential part of explaining Memorial Day, but you don't want to stop there. Take the conversation full circle by discussing how Memorial Day became a holiday and why it's celebrated on the last Monday in May. Break down a few enlightening facts for kids about this holiday to make it more understandable.

  • Memorial Day was known as Decoration Day because people would visit and decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers.
  • The first official Decoration Day was on May 30, 1868.
  • The name was changed to Memorial Day to remember all soldiers, not just those who fought and died in the Civil War.
  • Memorial Day became an official holiday in 1971.
  • It's celebrated on the last Monday in May to give workers a three-day weekend.
  • The President of the United States visits the Arlington National Cemetery to pay tribute to soldiers.
  • People decorate soldiers' graves with flags, flowers, and wreaths.

Simple Activities to Make Memorial Day More Meaningful

Memorial Day is a holiday with a big meaning. You can take that meaning even further by creating some fun Memorial Day traditions. These activities celebrate soldiers and push the understanding of what Memorial Day means.

Grow Flowers

People put flowers on graves and memorials of soldiers. Have kids create a memorial flower garden. They can plant various flowers that will bloom during the summer to help them remember the soldiers who have died.

Visit a Parade

Many towns and communities have a large parade for Memorial Day. Take your child to a parade to watch the soldiers marching. You can have them create a thank you sign or hold an American flag to wave at the parade.

Kids in Memorial Day Parade

Write a Memorial Day Song

If you have a creative little kiddo, have them create a fun song for Memorial Day to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. You can then sing the simple song together. You can also share a famous Memorial Day song and sing it together.

Create a Picture Celebrating Soldiers

Kids love to draw. Pull out the paper and markers. Let them create a picture that celebrates soldiers and America. You can then decorate your house for Memorial Day using their drawings. You might also have them color Memorial Day coloring pages.

Visit a Memorial

If you have a graveyard near you with soldier memorials, this would be a perfect time to visit. You can have kids leave flowers or little trinkets on the graves of military members.

Army veteran and his sons visit the gravesite on Memorial Day

Make a Flag

Do you have a crafty kid? Work together to create a flag. You might help them draw and color a flag on a piece of paper to hang in the window. You could also use construction paper to decorate a flag to put on your door.

Create a Star Wreath

Let your child get creative by creating a star wreath. Take a piece of construction paper and cut out a large circle to use as the base of your wreath. You'll then cut out red, white, and blue stars. Take some glue and paste the stars onto the wreath. Kids can also add a note to their wreath with a message like, "Thank you for your service."

Make a Thank You Poster

Creating a Memorial Day poster can also solidify the meaning of Memorial Day with your child. Give them a posterboard, markers, and craft supplies. Allow them to create a poster with American flags, soldiers, etc. Have them add a phrase like "Thank You" or even an original Memorial Day quote. You can then put the poster in your window or place it in your yard for Memorial Day.

Children watch as people march in the annual Memorial Day Parade on May

Create Patriotic Memorial Day Chalk Art

Chalk art is a fun way to get patriotic and decorate your home. Give your kiddo a bin of chalk and have them decorate the porch and walkway in patriotic colors and pictures. Allow them to get creative.

Donate to a Memorial Cause

You can find several causes that accept volunteers and donations for Memorial Day. For example, the Memorial Day Flowers Foundation puts donated flowers on gravesites at Arlington National Cemetery. You might also be able to find a similar program available in your area.

Place Flags at the Cemetery

Show your appreciation for soldiers by placing flags at cemeteries in your area. You can also create wreaths and put them on graves as well.

Memorial Day for Kids

Kids might just think of Memorial Day as a day off from school and attending barbeques. But this holiday has a very special meaning. Help kids understand the meaning behind Memorial Day by creating unique ways to celebrate Memorial Day together to honor the soldiers who made the greatest sacrifice for freedom.

How to Make Memorial Day Fun & Meaningful for Kids