Dyan Branstetter | November 2016

Celebrate Veterans Day with an Arts Integrated Activity

Each year for Veterans Day, our K-4 school holds a simple ceremony. We ask all students who are related to a veteran to bring that relative to school for the morning. At the ceremony, we say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” or “America the Beautiful”, and introduce each veteran and in what capacity he or she served. To conclude, we have a few 4th graders read essays that share why they are thankful for our veterans. After our ceremony, a few of the veterans visit classrooms as guest readers and answer students’ questions. They celebrate Veteran’s Day with arts integrated activity.

Students typically learn the patriotic song for this ceremony during music class. As a classroom teacher, this gives me an opportunity to use the song lyrics as a text for a close read. My music teacher shared a terrific idea with me from the blog Mrs. King Rocks. She suggested that in addition to reading and discussing the lyrics, students could make a quilt with each square depicting each line of the song. Here are directions based on Mrs. King’s idea:

Making a Patriotic Song Quilt As An Arts Integrated Activity:

  1. After clarifying all of the text’s words and phrases with students, break students into small groups. (The number of groups depends on the number of lyrics in the song.)
  2. Give each group a square piece of paper. Mrs. King suggested cutting the squares 8 x 8.
  3. Assign each group a line from the song, and ask them to illustrate their assigned line. Depending on your grade level, the requirements may vary.

For example:

  • In art class, my students recently finished learning about line, so before starting, I had my students brainstorm how this would apply to their work.
  • My students also recently learned how tint and shading can help illustrators convey the mood to help readers comprehend the theme of a text, so we tried to incorporate that as well.
    • (Both of those topics could be stand-alone mini-lessons, or they could be reminders as students begin to sketch.)
  • Have students decide how they will incorporate the words within their art. Will they design the words within their image? Or will they use them as a caption?

4. After the artwork is complete, display the squares in a quilt formation in the order of the song lyrics.

Note: If the quilt is completed prior to the ceremony, it would provide a great backdrop for pictures of our veterans with their child(ren).

Through this activity, we are able to integrate some social studies standards, ELA standards, music standards, AND art standards. Rather than glossing over these songs as part of a quick ceremony, they take on a deeper meaning for students as they sing. How do you integrate the arts integrated activity for patriotic holidays? Share it with us in the comments!

About the Author

Dyan is a fifth grade teacher in a public school district in Lancaster, PA and has over 16 years of classroom experience. With a Masters of Science Education and a passion for dance and music, she strives to integrate the arts into the curriculum whenever possible. Dyan has a background in teaching advanced learners, and is devoted to using project based learning to help her students achieve 21st century learning skills and master the PA Core Standards.