Veterans Day often slips by in that space between back-to-school routine-setting and Thanksgiving vacation. Yet it’s an important day to honor and thank our veterans for their service. Helping kids write meaningful Veterans Day letters to active duty service members is a simple way to celebrate this holiday.
I’m sharing five simple ways to get kids writing letters to a veteran. PLUS I’ve included Veterans Day Letter Writing prompts and a FREE printable to make it easy for you!
Interestingly, I recently learned that Veterans Day does not have an apostrophe in its spelling. I thought it would, because isn’t it a “day belonging to Veterans”? Instead, the word “Veterans” is used in the plural as an attributive adjective describing which day it is. Not whose day it is. Therefore, no apostrophe. Sorry, but I like to geek out over grammar like that, and thought maybe you’d like to know! (Let me know if that hit any of your “good grammar” buttons!)
Meaningful Veterans Day Letter Writing for Kids
In our age of quick texts, and not much longer emails, it’s easy for kids to exercise only informal writing skills. We just don’t have as many occasions to write formal, handwritten letters! Still, letter writing is a wonderful communication tool, and hand-written letters are much appreciated by the receiver!
Here are five simple ideas to help kids write a letter to a veteran this year:
1. Start with a good book
It might seem strange to start a writing activity by reading. However, military holidays come around so infrequently, and most aren’t celebrated widely. Starting by reading gives kids a sense of who they are writing to. These book suggestions include titles about both kids who write letters (general letter writing themes), and some books about the veterans who receive letters.
Warm up to the idea of letter writing:
Learn about veterans and Veterans Day:
Veterans Day for Kids! – The Amazing Story of Veterans DayThe Poppy Lady: Moina Belle Michael and Her Tribute to VeteransVeterans: Heroes in Our NeighborhoodHero DadHero MomTuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service DogH is for Honor: A Military Family AlphabetCelebrate Veterans Day (U.S. Holidays)A Child of a Veteran: Thank You for Your Service
Bottom Line: Reading about veterans and about kids/characters who write letters makes the activity feel more familiar and exciting!
2. Share your own connections
Kids might enjoy writing a letter more if they know the veteran personally. It makes it easy for them to come up with what to say. But if they don’t know a veteran, or if they want to bless a veteran in the field with a letter, it might be harder to think of something to write.
In our family, both grandfathers and an uncle is a retired veteran. Many children are well aware of what a veteran is, because a parent or close relative serve in the military. But your kids may not have any immediate family who has served, so try to find a personal connection outside your family circle. Perhaps a neighbor, coworker or friend? Check to see if there any veterans memorials or activities in your area.
Bottom Line: When kids have a personal connection, the letter writing will have more meaning for both them and the veteran they write to.
3. Help kids make a real-life connection to veterans
So your kids know some veterans. Great start! Likely the veterans they know are much older than they are, so the idea of having anything to say to someone a generation or two older than them might bring about writer’s block.
What you need to find is common ground. Start by talking about how veterans come from all walks of life, and some veterans will share a common background with your child.
Before joining the military, a veteran would have been a child just like them. Does your child dream of serving? Perhaps joining the military was also a childhood dream of the veteran they will send a letter to.
Veterans enjoy many of the same activities children enjoy! Help your child make connections by listing several things your child enjoys: movie nights, sports teams, a hobby, reading, pets.
Explain how veterans likely enjoy those same things, but it might look different now if they are active duty or retired. A family member or friend might have to take care of their pet. They might enjoy a movie night with their fellow veterans instead of siblings or friends. Perhaps they have brought along their hobby (like playing chess or tying knots) to where they are stationed to pass the time.
Talk about how some veterans are no longer serving because they are discharged. What might they be doing that your child also does? Going out to eat, enjoying time with family, getting a job.
Bottom line: Once children make a connection between THEIR life and the lives of veterans, they will feel they have more to say in their letter!
4. Cultivate thankfulness for veterans
Above all, it’s important for veterans to feel appreciated. So beyond a child simply telling the veteran about their own life, it’s important to give back with words of gratitude.
Discuss how veterans work to make our lives safe or better. Talk about the variety of jobs military personnel can hold.
Name some ways our lives are better because some people choose to serve in the military.
Ask your child what they think of when they see a military uniform or flag.
List freedoms we enjoy in our country, in part because people serve in our military. Freedom to travel, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, right to choose our own clothing, jobs, activities, friends.
Bottom line: Help children see ways in which they have much to be thankful for because of the service of those in our military.
5. Brainstorm ways to encourage veterans they meet
Discuss what it means for a veteran to do a good job. How is their job difficult or challenging for them? What might they miss while they are away from home?
How can kids support and encourage veterans throughout the year?
Bottom line: Letter writing is just one idea! Attending local events, visiting retired veterans, or simply thanking those who wear their veterans hats and patches are all great ways to show support.
Quick Overview of Letter Writing Format
Now that kids have talked and thought about veterans, they are ready to write. Before they being, do a quick review of letter writing format. There are three main sections to a letter:
- Salutation – Dear Veteran, (Avoid using Dear Soldier, because only those who serve in the Army are called soldiers. If you send your letter to a group mailing service, they may not be able to guarantee which branch of the military it will go to).
- Letter Body – Use the writing prompts above to create a personalized and detailed letter. Older students can divide their letter into three paragraphs if they like. Avoid saying anything negative about your life, or commenting too much on the dangers they might face. Life as an active veteran can be stressful. And retired veterans may be struggling from PTSD or other mental strain from their time on active duty.
Closing – End simply with:
Now it’s time for Veterans Day Letter Writing!
Here’s a handy word bank that gives kids specific Veterans Day language:
Remember * Country * Military * Hero * Sacrifice
Freedom * Service * History * Flag * Dedication
Uniform * Parade * Brave * Safe * Protect * Courage
Honor * Country * United States * Nation * Strength
If kids still need ideas, draw on the reading and discussion ideas mentioned above! I’ve rewritten these as writing prompt questions here. Kids can pick 1-2 from each of these writing prompt categories and create a 1, 2, or 3 paragraph letter:
- Introduce Yourself – Avoid giving your full name or sharing your location
- What grade are you in? And what do you like about school?
- What kinds of pets do you have?
- What hobbies / sports do you participate in?
- What is something interesting that happened to you recently?
- Do you know any veterans in your family?
- Express Thanks – Use some of the keywords above
- Why do you think they are brave?
- How is your life better because they serve in the military?
- What do you think of when you see a military uniform?
- How does the flag remind you of our veterans?
- What do you get to enjoy because veterans protect our country?
- Encourage and Uplift!
- How do you think they are doing a good job?
- Tell them how you admire what they do.
- Explain how you will continue to support them (prayer, letters, volunteering)
- Share a funny joke or a famous quote that will inspire or entertain them.
- Include a drawing or piece of artwork for your veteran to enjoy too!
FREE Download! A Veterans Day Poppy-themed Printable Writing Page
Getting a letter is already fun and exciting. But getting a letter on special stationery is even better! Printed stationery makes the writing fun!
To help inspire young writers, and brighten up those Veterans Day letters, here’s a FREE printable poppy-themed stationery sheet PLUS a letter writing template.
Download your free PDF sample letter writing template to use with your kids when you sign up for my blog newsletter.
Get the complete set of Letter Writing Templates PLUS a video class!
I have recorded a 15 minute video writing lesson where I share fun facts about Veterans Day and walk students through the process of letter writing as mentioned above. If you’d like this class for your kids, PLUS all the printable resources (and more), you can purchase the full lesson and printable set. It includes:
- 5 stationery pages to have options for your kids (or a homeschool co-op!),
- 3 helpful letter writing templates, prompts, and word bank printables,
- PLUS a 15-minute video writing lesson from me and my boys
simply hop over to my shop where you can purchase the complete set of Veterans Day Letter Templates! You’ll be sent a PDF packet of printable resources including a link to the 15-minute video writing lesson.
More Veterans Day Activities and Resources
Check out my guest post all about Veterans Day Activities & Resources on the Chalk Pastel blog where I share various activities we’ve enjoyed to observe this special day for our veterans.
Are your kids really into writing letters? Here are more kid-friendly letter writing ideas!
Donate a hand-turned wooden pen to a Veteran! Did you know that each year Woodcraft sponsors a free wood turning classes all over the U.S.? The pens created in these classes are FREE to make and FREE to the Veterans! This is a great opportunity to visit a local business, learn a skill, AND make a veteran smile to get a beautiful pen. Classes are sometimes for 18+ (check with your local shop), but younger kids will love watching you make a pen and learn about the process of woodturning. For more information, visit Woodcraft’s website. The 2022 event will be held November 5th.