9 Memorial Day activities for kids

The Memorial Day holiday often heralds the arrival of summer, but this year, take some time to teach kids about what this holiday actually celebrates: remembering all the people who have given their lives in service to the U.S. Armed Forces.

Here are nine crafts, recipes and activities to get children into the spirit of the day. They make great activities for caregivers to do with kids, too!

1. Read all about it

“The Wall” (Amazon, $7)

So many of us forget why we actually mark Memorial Day on our calendars. If you need some help explaining it to kids, these three books (appropriate for children ages 4 to 8) talk about the holiday in clear language that kids will understand:

Or visit the History Channel's website for more interesting information.

2. Tie-dye an American flag T-Shirt

Fold the hem of a white T-shirt up about 1 inch, making sure to get both front and back layers. Then fold inside in the other direction. Continue with the accordion folding until the shirt is folded into a zigzag pattern all the way to the sleeves. Secure with binder clips or clothespins. Next, create small, random gathers in the top section of the shirt and secure with elastics. (These will be the stars.) Use red dye to completely cover the bottom section and use blue dye to cover the top section. Then follow the instructions on the dye for drying and washing times. You'll end up with an American flag T-shirt perfect for Memorial Day!

3. Make a patriotic fruit dessert pizza

Use the colors of our American flag to make a delicious dessert pizza made of cookie crust, topped with Greek yogurt frosting and fresh berries. First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then, line a 13x9" baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, take one box of sugar cookie dough and mix it up per the package instructions. Press the dough firmly into the baking sheet with your hands and use a drinking cup to smooth out any bumps. Bake the sheet for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly brown. Let that cool down completely.

While the dough is cooling, take a cup of Greek yogurt and mix it with one eight-ounce package of light cream cheese, 1/2 cup of melted white chocolate and one teaspoon of vanilla in a mixing bowl. Stir until it's completely smooth and let it chill in the fridge. Once the crust is cool, remove it from the pan by lifting the parchment paper out slowly and place it on a cutting board. Spread the cooled frosting evenly over the entire crust. Any extra frosting can be used as fruit dip. Rinse and dry some blueberries and raspberries thoroughly, as wet berries will make the crust soggy. Place the berries in rows or decorate the crust like an American flag. Let your kids be creative with this part. Finally, cut the cookies into 2-inch squares and store in the fridge until ready to serve.

4. Send a letter to a soldier overseas

A thank-you letter or care package sent to a soldier stationed overseas is a wonderful way to show appreciation for the brave men and women who serve our country. If you don’t know anyone specifically stationed abroad, there are many nonprofit organizations dedicated to this effort, such as Operation USO Care Package, Any Soldier and A Million Thanks.

5. Enjoy fruity, frozen and festive drinks

Place blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries (or any combination of those) into an ice cube tray and cover with water. Freeze overnight for festive ice cubes in the morning. Stay cool by adding these to sparkling water or lemonade this Memorial Day.

6. Visit a local cemetery or memorial

Many families visit cemeteries annually on Memorial Day to pay respect to loved ones who served their country. Most communities also have some sort of cemetery or memorial dedicated to honoring America’s servicemen and women, with special commemorations on this holiday. Even if you don't have family members in these cemeteries, your kids can still honor these fallen service men and women by placing flowers or flags at headstones that don't have any.

7. Break out the face paint

Nothing gets kids in a celebratory mood like face painting! Use blue paint to draw a square around kids' right eye (your left), then make red stripes across the rest of their faces to create the flag. You could even add white stars or glitter to complete the look. Be sure to get a picture!

8. Say ‘Hi!’ to a vet

Today is a great day to give back to the people who have served this country. While face-to-face visits are out for 2020, due to COVID-19, you can still have your kids write letters and thank-you notes that you drop off at the local veterans hospital or to a veteran who lives on your block.

9. March on (virtually)

Memorial Day typically goes hand-in-hand with parades, but in 2020, things will look a little different due to COVID-19. Check out VetFriends.com for a list of virtual events that you can join from wherever you are celebrating this year.

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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