When Memorial Day first was proclaimed a U.S. holiday in 1868, it was a solemn day set aside to remember and honor the nation’s war dead. While it is still celebrated for that reason, many people recognize it as a day off, start of pool season, and a reason for sales at different stores. Take the time this Memorial Day to learn more about the holiday and different ways to celebrate it with your students.
If you are looking for writing practice, try watching a video on Memorial Day Across America or look through a slideshow of pictures. Share how you celebrate the holiday with your student and ask if they are willing to share how they celebrate or a memory from their past. You can then have the student write a journal entry reflecting on their experiences or write down the key words mentioned in the video or your student’s story to go over.
If your student is more advanced or interested in history, start by looking at this graphic interactive slideshow focusing on the history of Memorial Day. You can also use an infographic of the history of Memorial Day to read through together. Once you’re done learning about the history, try a fill in the blank to check reading comprehension.
Memorial Day can be a great opportunity to incorporate civics in an ESL curriculum. Use this Pre-Intermediate English Lesson on Memorial Day to learn about the holiday and then test comprehension with a quiz. The EL Civics for Memorial Day site has a brief passage on traditions of the holiday and then questions you can ask your students to test comprehension and start conversation on the topic (i.e. How are you celebrating this year?). You can also practice a CLOZE exercise to understand verb tense.
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