Unit Study for Memorial Day

A useful way to help young people understand this holiday is to create a unit study for Memorial Day.

Unit Study for Memorial Day

Unit Study for Memorial Day

Homeschoolers benefit from understanding the meaning and purpose of our national holidays. Memorial Day is significant because it honors those who have died while in military service. While the day is a day of remembrance for those who died, it is a good time to include a unit study about Americans who fought in various American wars.

For homeschool high schoolers, unit studies are excellent ways to level up or help build a Carnegie unit credit for the high school transcript. You can add the hours spent on the unit study to the various subjects that it covers.

A good unit study will cover several different subject areas. In this case we will cover:

  • Social Studies
  • Literature
  • Writing
  • History
  • Fine Arts

Here is a Unit Study for Memorial Day

Note: For homeschool high schoolers, you can log hours for activities and keep book lists so that appropriate credit can be given. (More details later in this post.) For information on logging hours, see this post.

Goals for Unit Study for Memorial Day

The goals of this unit study is to:

Enrich high schoolers’ awareness of the history, significance and purpose of Memorial Day

  • Aid growth in social and cultural intelligence
  • Add interest and richness to homeschool curriculum
  • Give teens useful educational opportunities for leveling up their Social Studies credits

This unit study will not cover the entire history of Memorial Day. It will simply offer some opportunities to enrich their studies and experiences as Americans.

At the end of the unit study, homeschool high schoolers should be able to describe some of the history and traditions of Memorial Day.

BTW: The term “unit study” is another way to describe integrated learning. If you would like a more in-depth discussion on how to create integrated learning experiences for your teens or homeschool co-op, check out this post.

Caution: War can be a triggering topic for some children and teens. Please be aware of your child or teens’ needs, sensitivities and concerns and adapt or avoid books, movies and assignments that would not be appropriate for them.

Note: for younger students, simplify the unit study, for instance:

  • Read books
    • Some suggested books include:
      • Dorie Miller: Greatness Under Fire by Dante R. Brazil
      • The Impossible Patriotism Project by Linda Skeers
      • Let’s Celebrate Memorial Day by Barbara diRubertis
      • The Poppy Lady by Barbara Walsh
      • Memorial Day Surprise by Theresa Martin Golding
      • My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier (some sites suggest this as middle school and older)
      • The Fearless Flights of Hazel Ying Less by Julie Leung
      • Veterans: Heroes in Our Neighborhood by Valerie Pfundstein
      • See more suggestions in the read aloud section below
  • Participate in read alouds
  • Watch appropriate movies
  • Journal about something they learned
  • Work on art project

Methods for High School Students:

  • Reading real books of the student’s choice
    • with accompanying book summary, reflection paper or discussion according to student’s abilities and goals
  • Writing essay, report, research paper or short story (or combination, according to student’s goals)
  • Journalling-based learning using:
    • Media: documentary videos, television series, interviews, movies
      • Max (2015)
      • Sergeant York (1941)
    • Journaling
  • Fine Arts: video presentations, art projects
  • Discussions

Time Frame

The time needed for this unit study will be adjustable:

  • One week for the basics
  • Two or more weeks for teens who are interested in the books and topics and want to explore more

Grading

Grading will be by assignment, with the assignment’s grades going toward the total grade for the student’s ELA, American History, Science or Fine Arts totals.

  • Books:
    • Graded assessment (from book summary, reflection paper or discussion)
  • Writing assignments:
    • Grading by rubrics given in 7Sisters materials
  • Journaling:
    • Grading by participation (were the questions answered?)
  • Fine Arts:
    • Grading by participation (was the project completed?)
  • Guided discussion:
    • Grading by participation (did the student participate?)
  • Download this freebie for grading with rubric and how-to.

Unit Study for Memorial Day

  1. The history of the United States includes wars and military interventions at various times in its history. Knowing the importance of readiness, the government maintains a well-trained and active military.
  2. Using a unit study approach allows students to:
    1. increase perspective-taking skills
    2. reflect and use critical thinking skills as they gain more social and cultural understanding and skills
    3. have some interesting educational experiences that help them understand Memorial Day better

Books:

Choose one book for the week that fits your homeschool high schooler’s needs, goals and abilities. You might also want to choose a family read-aloud that helps them understand the meaning and traditions around Memorial Day. These books may be written for younger students but are good for family experience about the holiday. For instance:

The book can be read in various formats:

  • Traditional book form
  • Audio book
  • Family read-aloud where appropriate

Novels

  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • Under a War-Torn Sky by L.M. Elliott

Non-fiction

  • The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill
  • Heroism Begins with Her by Winifred Conkling
  • PT 109: John F Kennedy in World War II by Robert Donovan
  • Sergeant York: His Own Life and War Diary by Alvin York
  • Soldier by Simon Adams (DK Eyewitness Series)
  • Yankee Doodle Gals: Women Pilots of World War II by Amy Nathan

Poetry

Here is a link to Poetry Foundations videos of three poems about World War I (including In Flanders Fields)

  • In Flanders Fields by John McCrae (a Canadian who wrote to poem that explained the significance of poppies to those who have fought in wars)

Documentaries

  • Honor Flight (2012)
  • The World Wars (Amazon Prime) (2014)

Movies

  • Empire of the Sun (1987)
  • Father Goose (1964)
  • Gettysburg (1993)
  • The Great Escape (1963)
  • The Longest Day (1962)
  • Memphis Belle (PG13) (1990)
  • Operation Dumbo Drop (1995)
  • Rough Riders (1997)
  • Sergeant York (1941)
  • Sgt. Stubby, An American Hero (2018)
  • Tora, Tora, Tora (1971)
  • Unbroken PG13 (2013)
  • Valiant (2005)
  • Pureflix subscribers will find several movies for Memorial Day

Writing

Choose one of the following (all of these will go beyond a one-day unit study):

  • Follow the daily writing section in the syllabus below or
    • Write an essay about the movie you watched. Address:
      • The setting and characters of the movie
      • What the movie wanted to portray about the war?
      • Your thoughts about whether or not you agree with the movie’s presentation about that war
    • Write a book summary and reflection about the book you read
    • Write a research paper on a topic that has inspired you (plan on several weeks)

Fine Arts

Make some Memorial Day decorations:

Who kept the faith and fought the fight; the glory theirs, the duty ours. -Wallace Bruce

Syllabus for Unit Study for Memorial Day

Monday

  • Discuss with your teen the unit study (discuss the time period, according to your family’s needs). This suggested syllabus is one week long.
  • Read over week’s assignments together.
  • Make choices of reading material and writing assignments.
  • Begin reading and journalling assignments.

ELA Literature:
Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose a movie and/or a documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • In what ways are their lives different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Or choose one of the other writing assignments above

History:

Read the following blog posts on the history of Memorial Day. You get slightly different versions of the history.

Discussion question:  Why are there differing accounts of the origins of Memorial Day?

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above. Get started but you can finish tomorrow.

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the questions together. Do you have any thoughts you would like to discuss or explore.

Tuesday

Continue reading and inquiry-based assignments.

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

See writing prompts below. Write an essay, reflection or research paper

History:

Is there a family member or someone you know who is serving, or has served, in the military?

  • Ask them about serving in the military.
  • What do they appreciate?
  • Ask if they have anything that they regret or not like?

Fine Arts:

Pick one of the activities from the list above. Get started but you can finish tomorrow.

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Do you have any thoughts you would like to discuss or explore.

Wednesday

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose another and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • In what ways are their lives different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?

Or choose one of the other writing prompts.

History:

Choose a documentary or movie from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you. (You can count the one you watched for English/Language Arts.)

Discuss one of the characters:

  • Why is he/she fighting in the war?
  • What is admirable and/or not admirable about this person?
  • Each person has their own perspective. What was your character’s perspective about the war?

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Do you have any thoughts you would like to discuss or explore.

Thursday

ELA Literature:

Read 1/4 of book (Books can be spread out over several weeks, if desired)

ELA Writing:

Choose the movie Hidden Figures and/or the history documentary and write an essay or journal response to these questions:

Pick a character from the movie and/or documentary. Think about their experiences.

  • How is their life similar to yours?
  • In what ways are their lives different than yours?
  • How do the differences they experience affect their opportunities and choices?
  • What are some things that helped them succeed?
  • Or choose one of the other writing prompts.

History:

Choose a documentary or movie from the list above or find one that would be meaningful to you. (You can count the one you watched for English/Language Arts.)

Discuss one of the characters:

  • Why is he/she fighting in the war?
  • What is admirable and/or not admirable about this person?
  • Each person has their own perspective. What was your character’s perspective about the war?

Current Events:

Choose an article from Native News Online and write a one-paragraph summary.

Daily Wrap Up

  • Be sure to log hours on all the activities above.
  • End of day discussion. Discuss the journaling questions together. Do you have any thoughts you would like to discuss or explore.

Friday

Introduction to Essay Writing
Click image for full description.

Complete any assignments from earlier in the week.

Write a one- or two-page essay or reflection paper on the book you read this week. You can use 7Sisters Essay Writing Guides to help you through this process if you are writing an essay. A reflection paper is simply a one- or two-page journal-type response to the book. Address these questions:

  • How did you feel reading the book?
  • Explain something new that you learned?
  • What are the characters’ similarities and differences to your experiences?

 

 

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Vicki Tillman

Blogger, curriculum developer at 7SistersHomeschool.com, counselor, life and career coach, SYMBIS guide, speaker, prayer person. 20+year veteran homeschool mom.

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