When I was a girl I lived in a series of small towns. Just before the start of the new school year, there was a holiday called Labor Day. I had no idea what it was about but I knew it meant school was starting.
In the small towns that I lived in, there was always a big celebration with a parade down Main Street, a BBQ in the park and boring speeches by important people. Over the years, whenever Labor Day rolls around someone in my family would ask, “What is the Labor day holiday for?” and someone else would reply “I think it must have something to do with working or working people”. If a child asked an adult “Why do we celebrate labor day?” they might hear “It’s a day to celebrate how much work it was to bring you into the world and then take care of you”.
I thought it might be interesting to fill you in on what Labor Day is really all about so that when your child asks you, you can give them a real answer and not be a wiseacre! How about an activity or two that you can do as a family to learn about and celebrate the day.
In fact, why not celebrate Labor Day for the whole week with interesting conversation and family activities.
History of Labor Day
Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday in September. It’s a day dedicated to the everyday worker. This holiday gives tribute to the working class and their contributions to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country. Labor Day became an official national holiday in 1894. This holiday is usually celebrated with summer activities – swimming, camping, picnics, etc. Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer in the Northern part of the U.S. Many schools start sometime just before or just after Labor Day.
Labor Day Activities and Ideas
•This labor day why not have a family program in your living room and show your children what labor you perform in your community. Maybe you are a doctor, a teacher, salesman or nurse. If the timing is right, go on a field trip and show them where you work. You might round out the program by having each person in your family share what it is they think would be the most fun work to do when they grow up. Don’t forget the treats.
•Take some time, at dinner for example, and talk about all the contributions children can and do make. Here are some ideas – Babysit, deliver newspapers, magazines or flyers, walk dogs/care for pets, do yard work, grass cutting, helping a neighbor with chores, do chores in their own home, be a tutor, help out at kids clubs, teach computer skills, volunteer. All of these things are important because they contribute to society – kids do make a difference.
•Make a collage by cutting pictures out of magazines of people doing different kinds of work.
Teaching Children the Importance of Work
Discuss why it’s important to work and what we can learn when we are working:
•Money Management -You quickly learn the value of money when you earn it yourself.
•Time management – You will learn how to manage your time, be organized, and set schedules so you can get your work done and still have time for school and play.
•Responsibility – When you make a commitment to take on work or chores or do volunteer work you have to follow through because people are counting on you.
•Setting Goals – You want that bike? Set the goal and go for it. Work teaches you how to do this.
Labor Day Games and Puzzles
•Make the game Tools of the Trade and then have a family game night and play it. Serve popcorn. Here’s how:
Make cards showing a tool from many different occupations. Use blank index cards) Make two cards for each tool. (hammer, dentist drill, garden rake, semi-truck, a judges hammer, stethoscope, shopping cart, computer, pen, etc. ) Then play the game just as you would Memory. Take turns turning over two cards until a match is found. The person with the most matches is the winner. Part of the fun is in choosing the occupations and then deciding on a tool for each. Kids love making the cards!
•PRINT OFF some super Labor Day Word Search puzzles.
Short Stories for Labor Day
•PRINT OFF some short stories to share each day of the week before Labor Day or the week of Labor Day. Here is just a small sample of what you will find:
The Smithy by P. V. Ramaswami Raju, Indian Fables; Hofus the Stone Cutter, A Japanese Legend from The Riverside Third Reader; Arachine by Josephine Preston Peabody, Old Greek Folk Stories; and The Champion Stone Cutter by Hugh Miller
Labor Day Books to Read to Children
Choose a book about working people and their jobs to read in your family reading time. You can get a description of each book HERE.
A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn Buehner
Bruno the Tailor by Caralyn Buehner
I Want to be a Police Officer by Daniel Liebman
Jobs People Do by Christopher Maynard
Community Helpers from A to Z by Bobbie Kalman
Fireman Small by Wong Herbert Yee
I Want to Be a Teacher by Daniel Liebman
Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
My Daddy is a Soldier by Kirk Hilbrecht
Officer Buckle & Gloria by Peggy Rathmann
Sam Who Never Forgets by Eve Rice
The Gardener by Sarah Stewart
Tortoise Brings the Mail by Dee Lillegard
Walter the Baker by Eric Carle
What Do Authors Do by Eileen Christelow
What Do Illustrators Do? by Eileen Christelow
What is a Community from A to Z? (AlphaBasiCs) by Bobbie Kalman
Holidays are great times to spend time with your children, engage in some interesting conversations, read and establish some family traditions. Labor Day is no exception!
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