Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, held every year on Dec. 7, marks the events and honors those who died in the attack on the Pearl Harbor naval base on that fateful day in 1941. Students typically learn about Pearl Harbor when studying World War II in school, but you don't have to wait for a middle school history class to talk to your elementary-age child about Pearl Harbor, especially when Pearl Harbor Day is approaching. Engage your child in age-appropriate discussions and activities that will help him understand the significance of this day in world history.
Read an age-appropriate book with your child that discusses the events surrounding the Pearl Harbor attack. For kids ages 6 and older, "Pearl Harbor: Ready-to-Read Level 3," by Stephen Krensky, provides a basic introduction to Pearl Harbor and World War II. Another book to check out, for kids 10 and older, is "Pearl Harbor Child: A Child's View of Pearl Harbor From Attack to Peace," by Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson, which is the true account of a girl who experienced Pearl Harbor from her front yard and details the aftermath from a civilian point of view.
Encourage your child to talk to a grandparent or other relative who was alive when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Have your child interview them and ask them where they were, what they remember and what, if any, affect Pearl Harbor or World War II had on them. Depending on the relative's past, he might have been directly affected, or he might have lived in another country and could give a perspective as a foreigner. Have your child write a short essay about their experience. If no relatives in your family are available, have your child research first-person accounts online to read about or watch a video of a veteran or civilian who witnessed the Pearl Harbor attack.
Take your child to a World War II museum or any history museum that features exhibits on Pearl Harbor. Several museums around the country focus on World War II, including the National World War II Museum (nationalww2museum.org) in New Orleans and the Museum of World War II (museumofworldwarii.com) in Natick, near Boston. Families who live in Hawaii can visit the actual Pearl Harbor memorial sites, including the partially sunken USS Arizona battleship. Those who live near Washington, D.C., can visit the World War II Memorial (nps.gov/nwwm). Talk to your child about how these museums and memorials honor the soldiers who fought and died. If you are not near any type of museum or memorial that highlights Pearl Harbor, take your child on a virtual field trip -- most museums have pictures and information online about their exhibits.
Have your child make a giant card thanking veterans for their service to the county. On the front she might write, "We remember Pearl Harbor." One the inside she could write, "Thank-you for your service." Invite her friend over to help her decorate or sign the card. On Pearl Harbor Day, take your child to a veterans center to deliver the card. If the center is having a special program in honor of Pearl Harbor Day, stay and meet with some of the veterans of any war, distant or more recent, if possible.
- Pearl Harbor: Ready -To-Read Level 3; Stephen Krensky
- Pearl Harbor Child: A Child's View of Pearl Harbor From Attack to Peace; Dorinda Makanaonalani Nicholson
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