Lively Lesson: Veterans Day

Working on your weekly lesson plans? This Lively Lesson provides timely Discovery Education content and lesson plan ideas.

In honor of Veterans Day, citizens of the United States reflect upon the sacrifice and service of men and women in the military.  This Lively Lesson suggests Discovery Education resources along with strategies for using digital media to make the work of these heroes come alive in your classroom.

Did you know:  Armistice Day, the precursor to the United States’ Veterans Day, is a day dedicated to the cause of world peace and mutual understanding between nations.


Veterans Day Content Collection: Discovery Education’s content team has curated videos, images, encyclopedia articles, activities, and more that share more about the history and evolution of Veterans Day.

Activity Idea: Veterans Memorial Design Competition

One way that communities honor veterans is by erecting monuments or memorials.  These tributes are carefully designed, selected, and placed to elicit a sense of connection and reflection, and to educate visitors about the sacrifices of the men and women who served and the cause for which they have fought.  In the activity below, students explore some of the monuments and memorials in Washington, DC, and use that information to create a memorial for veterans in their local area.

For a more complete descriptions and resources for a similar activity, check out this Discovery Education Board.

Background: When a memorial or monument is commissioned, artists, architects, engineers, and more often compete for the honor of designing the space.  Famously, Maya Ying Lin was still an architecture student at Yale when she won the competition for the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, with her iconic, minimalist design that was so unlike other monuments.

Show students the video segment: Maya Ying Lin Designs the Vietnam War Memorial, and ask them to consider the importance of monuments and memorials to honor and heal the wounds of war.  Explain that students will create a memorial in their local area to honor veterans.

Research: Similar to the strategy described in SOS: 2-1-4, print out multiple copies or otherwise visually display the following images of memorials and monuments:

Ask students to identify common themes, motifs, and materials of the memorials, as well as differences in design and structure.  Have students reflect on how the memorials made them feel, and what about the designs elicited these responses.  Students may also want to investigate the symbolism represented on monuments, such as the meaning of ropes, garlands, stars, water, lights, and more.

Create: Ask students to consider a particular group of veterans whom they would like to honor.  The veterans group may be affiliated with a particular era, function, job type, or cultural background that students feel is underrepresented in current memorials, or a group that deserves additional recognition.


Have students describe what a memorial for that group would look like, considering the following elements:

  • Structure – what would the physical shape of the memorial look like?  Why?
  • Symbols – what icons, imagery, and representations will be part of the memorial?
  • Text – would the memorial have words?  What would they say?
  • Materials – what will the memorial be made out of?
  • Placement – where will the memorial be placed

Create: Using materials available, such as paper, markers, clay, or dough, students draw or create a representation of the design they described.  Students may also create a digital memorial using a tool such as Discovery Education Board Builder, with images, video, and other media.

Share your ideas! We know you’re using resources and tools from Discovery Education every day in fun,  creative, and meaningful ways. We’d love to highlight your ideas in an upcoming Lively Lesson.

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