On Memorial Day we take a moment to honor Americans who have fought and died in war while in service to our country. While it's a day of paying tribute to sacrifice, it's also a day to celebrate freedom, patriotism—and the unofficial start of summer. This weekend, teach your kids about the real meaning of Memorial Day with some of these crafts and activities:

If you're . . .

  • remembering those who served in wars and fought for our country, share The Meaning of Memorial Day with your kids. Encourage them to write a letter of gratitude to someone in the military or find a way your family can contribute to one of the many programs that benefit servicemen, servicewomen, and veterans. Soldiers' Angels has a list of ways to make Memorial Day meaningful, such as attending a local parade (if you'd like to find a parade, search Google for "Memorial Day parades in NJ 2012"), flying the American flag (at half-mast until noon, and then at full height until dusk), or simply taking a moment to remember that America is “the land of the free because of the brave.”
  • taking a long car trip, keep your kids busy with a Memorial Day Word Scramble, an All About Memorial Day activity sheet, and a Memorial Day crossword puzzle.
  • hosting or going to a party, make something red, white, or blue to fit the Memorial Day theme. A few favorites we found online are Red, White, and Blue Chocolate-Dipped StrawberriesPatriotic Pizzas resembling the American flag (shown in photo from Taste of Home), and Chocolate-Dipped Pretzels dipped in patriotic-colored sprinkles. If you're feeling super ambitious, try baking a Hidden Flag Cake, which is made with a layer of red cake, a layer of white frosting, and a blue cake center so when sliced, everyone is served a perfect flag.
  • staying home, serve a stack of red and white pancakes topped with blueberries as a Memorial Day breakfast treat. Or end a picnic dinner with this easy-to-make Patriotic Parfait.
  • crafting, preschoolers can make an American Flag out of craft sticks, while older kids can paint rocks to make tablecloth weights, or they can sponge paint and put together a patriotic pinwheel.

For more ideas for celebrating Memorial Day, visit our Patriotic Holidays board on Pinterest.

How will your family be celebrating Memorial Day? Let us know in comments!