5 Labor Day Classroom Activities
Many schools across the country begin classes before Labor Day, the first Monday of September, giving teachers a great opportunity to teach their students a bit about this American holiday.
6 Facts About Labor Day
Here are a few facts to share with your students about Labor Day:
- Labor Day became an official national holiday in 1894.
- Labor Day became an official holiday when President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
- Labor Day originated when American workers protested against long workdays, child labor, and unsafe working conditions.
- On September 5, 1882, 10,000 NYC workers took unpaid time off to march against these labor-related issues—holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.
- The purpose of Labor Day is to honor the achievements of the American worker, celebrating the contributions of the American working class to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
- Today, Labor Day weekend symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans, and is often celebrated with parties, parades, races, and social get-togethers.
5 Fun Classroom Activities to Teach Students About Labor Day
As the first official holiday of the school year, Labor Day is a great opportunity to teach your students about our country’s history and various careers held by fellow citizens that support the community.
To help, here are a few ideas to incorporate in your classroom.
1. Make career posters/collages
Have your students collect pictures about various careers or one career they are interested in and paste them onto posters—then hang the posters around your classroom. Students can do research on their pictured careers and craft written essays or share what they’ve learned with their peers. If students have enough time to prepare, they can even come to class dressed up as their chosen career.
2. Thank a community helper
Write thank you cards to police officers, firefighters, nurses, post office personnel, construction workers, military personnel, or paramedics and then send them to their place of work. If possible, deliver the thank you cards in person—with a treat!
3. A child’s life: yesterday and today
As a class, discuss and list the types of activities children their age in the US are involved in on an average day today (e.g., family chores, school, homework, sports, etc.). Contrast this by talking about the lives of students living abroad in places that have unfair labor laws or by comparing children’s lives from 100+ years ago. Use non-fiction books and articles to give your students a first-hand look at how child labor is still utilized around the world. Have children write an essay or create a piece of artwork reflecting what they would change for children living in areas of the world with unfair labor laws.
4. Organize a career day
Invite parents or other student family members to come into your classroom to share details and experiences about their career. Give presenters an age-appropriate time limit (e.g., five minutes for younger students; ten minutes for older students) and encourage them to bring artifacts, share stories, or prepare a small activity to do with the students involving their job.
5. Read books about different careers
Take a trip to the library and have students pick out a book that has to do with a career they are interested in. (Click here for a list of books.) Read the books in class or at home. Have each child share what they learned from their book with the class. Students can also make a poster (see idea #1), write an essay about what they learned, or create a piece of artwork reflecting insights into their career. As a class, discuss the infinite number of career opportunities available to students.