Creating Veterans Day cards with your students this school year? Many people recommend this tradition for the November holiday, but do you know how to send Veterans Day cards from your class to make sure they make a real impact?
The Teach Starter teacher team has put together a few tips to make sure your students’ handwritten and heartfelt cards for those who have served in our nation’s armed forces get to the right place. Read on for their advice, a list of veterans organizations that will accept cards and send them to active duty soldiers or veterans, and even some printable cards that will really put a smile on those veterans’ faces (and save you lesson planning time!).
Things to Keep in Mind When Making Veterans Day Cards
There are a few basic rules you will want to lay out with your class before sitting down to write letters to veterans or make Veterans Day cards.
- Don’t sign your full name. For the sake of your students’ privacy, most organizations recommend students share only their first name.
- Gather all the cards together at once. It’s easier for an organization if you send all the cards to them at once. You may even want to talk to other teachers in your school or district to find out if others are embarking on a Veterans Day card campaign so you can combine efforts.
- Don’t expect a response. Some veterans may respond; some may not. If your class is writing letters to active-duty military personnel, for example, they may simply be too busy to send anything back. Impress upon your class that this project is intended to spread joy and say thank you rather than to spark up a pen pal-type relationship involving letters that go back and forth.
- Include your school address and your name (as a teacher). While a response shouldn’t be expected, some people DO like to write back, and including an address will allow them to do so! Some active-duty personnel may get free postage via the USPS, but not all veterans have that privilege, so including stamps is a good idea if you’re hoping for a response.
- Stick to positive messages. Remind students that Veterans Day is an important holiday and not a time to goof around and write things that might be hurtful.
- Include a class photo. A photo of your classroom full of smiling students is a great way to brighten a vet’s day!
- Keep it simple. Letters and cards are great — but you’ll want to avoid confetti and glitter or anything else that may fall out of the envelope. Save those additions for a card for parents or guardians.
- Open letters with “Dear Service Member.” This ensures the cards are gender-neutral and apply to those who serve(d) in any military branch and can be sent to anyone.
How to Send Veterans Day Cards to Active-Duty Personnel
Before you can dive into card writing with your class, you’ll want to choose who students are writing to. Unlike Memorial Day, which is a federal holiday focused solely on those who fought and died while serving in the United States armed forces, Veterans Day is meant to honor anyone — living or deceased — who has served in the US armed forces. That includes those who are actively serving in our nation’s military — and sending those who are far from home right now serving our country can be a real pick-me-up for them on the holiday (or any time of the year!). Who wouldn’t want to know that the kids back home are grateful for your service?
You may want to start out by checking with guidance counselors in your school district. They may know of recent graduates who are currently serving in the military who might want to receive a nice card from their alma mater.
Here are a few other organizations that will help get your students’ Veterans Day cards directly into the hands of active-duty military personnel:
- A Million Thanks
- America’s Adopt a Soldier
- Hugs for Soldiers
- Operation Tarjeta De Navidad (Esposas Militares Hispanas USA) — This organization is dedicated to Latinx members of our military.
- Homefront Hugs Foundation — This organization will get cards to wounded warriors.
How to Send Veterans Day Cards to Veterans
Did you know that more than half a million of America’s veterans live in long-term care facilities run by the federal Veterans Administration? These folks could really use a few cards from kids to brighten their days!
Making Veterans Day Cards With Your Class
But wait, maybe you’re still debating whether this is the right way to honor Veterans Day in your classroom. Should you be exploring other avenues to ensure your students understand that November 11 isn’t just a fun day off from school?
From the ELA curriculum standpoint, creating Veterans Day cards with your class hits all the right marks: Students get a chance to practice everything from handwriting to the skill of letter writing, which prepares them for later life. We may live in a world of text messaging and emails, but it’s still a core skill to write both formal and informal letters. Taking the time to handwrite letters to veterans in November aligns well with literacy standards.
Depending on the grade you’re teaching this year or the standards you’re working on, you may want to allow students free reign to write what they want or be more direct. For example, students may be encouraged to recount an event in their card describing a time they felt the most patriotic, including details to describe their actions, thoughts, and feelings. Or you might want to have students write drafts of their letters, then work with a peer editor to strengthen their message before creating a final copy to send to a veteran or active duty personnel.
There’s also a clear social and emotional learning component that comes along with this classroom project, teaching kids about the importance of sharing kind, uplifting messages with others.
Printable Veterans Day Cards
Ready to take on this Veterans Day project? Our teacher team has created some printable cards to start you off!
- Veterans Day Thank You Cards
- Veterans Day Writing Craftivity
- Thank You For Being Brave Letter Writing Template
- Thank You For Putting Others First Letter Writing Template
- You Are a Hero Letter Writing Template
Explore more Veterans Day ideas and printable resources for your classroom!
Banner image via Shutterstock/Andrew Joseph Folts