Memorial Day weekend is almost here—how does your family mark the annual holiday? Many will host cookouts, head to the beach or even take advantage of those enticing Memorial Day sales. Those are all great ways to make memories with your children!

This weekend, though, we encourage you to talk about the meaning behind the annual holiday. Do your children understand what Memorial Day is all about? It's become synonymous with barbecues, but it's actually quote solemn. Here are some tips for how you can explain the meaning of Memorial Day to kids, plus some appropriate activities to honor the holiday.

What is Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is a holiday to honor military members who have died in the line of duty. It's a somber topic, but one worth exploring with children.

It's best to keep the conversation age-appropriate. If you're unsure where to begin, we recommend you look to your child. Start by asking them if they've heard of the holiday. Their answers to "What do you know about Memorial Day?" might surprise you.

You know your child best, mama, so you know if they'll understand concepts like service or sacrifice. If you think they're too young for that conversation, you can try talking about bravery, instead.

Family-friendly activities for Memorial Day

There are a variety of ways you can honor the service and sacrifice of fallen military members. Consider starting a new tradition with your little ones.

Attend a parade

Who doesn't love a parade? Your kids will be delighted to see musicians, dancers, floats, and more in a local parade. Don't forget to point out the veterans marching along. For a socially distanced option, watch your local parade on television.

Take a moment of silence together

Here's a simple (and free!) way to mark the day: participate in The National Moment of Remembrance. At 3 p.m. wherever you are, take at least one minute together with your children to send your love and thanks to the men and women who died serving our country.

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Visit a veterans cemetery

Many groups mark Memorial Day by visiting a veterans cemetery and placing flags or flowers at each grave. You can find a local group and volunteer with your children, or simply visit and pay your respects. You can also donate to a group like Memorial Day Flowers to help them in their mission to honor every veteran.

Make patriotic art

Even the youngest children will enjoy making art, whether it's with crayons, sidewalk chalk or craft supplies. Make flags or wreaths to decorate your home.

Watch the Memorial Day concert

PBS hosts an annual concert that you can watch from the comfort of your couch. This year's concert airs on Sunday, May 29, at 8 p.m. ET.

Talk to a Gold Star Family about their loved one

A Gold Star Family is one that has lost an immediate family member in the line of duty as a military member. If you have the privilege of knowing a Gold Star Family, reach out to them. Understand that Memorial Day might be a difficult day for them—but let them know that their family is in your thoughts. When they're ready, let them know that you'd love to hear more about their loved one: what they were like as a child, as an adult, and as a military member.

Memorial Day is about honoring the lives of service members that have been lost; by committing to keeping their memories alive, we can honor them and the spirit of the holiday.

This story was published on May 25, 2021. It has been updated.