by Stacy Allsbrook-Huisman
In military life, the color purple represents all branches of service. In April, Month of the Military Child, the Purple Up campaign shines a spotlight on the unique lifestyle of military-connected students. Wearing or displaying purple during Month of the Military Child is a way to show support for military kids.
Schools can find all kinds of ways to celebrate military kids throughout April, with school-wide events and classroom activities: Plan events all month or set aside one Purple Up Day. By celebrating Month of the Military Child, schools recognize the connection between a school and the military community goes deeper than the numbers of military-connected students on the roster.
For Month of the Military Child, the reasons for celebrating matter more than the size of the party.
Schools, support organizations, and teachers can choose many ways to celebrate with their students, according to their school population, calendar, and budget.
A few ideas for celebrations of all sizes:
Highlight April as Month of the Military Child on the school’s marquee and in staff and parent newsletters and social media.
Choose a day to celebrate Purple Up! Ask students and staff to wear purple: t-shirts, ribbons, flowers, or hats. Decorate the school with purple balloons and streamers.
Host a breakfast or lunch for military-connected students. Include those with parents or other close family members in military service. Don’t forget to include teachers and staff with military connections.
Dress up throughout the month of April to highlight different aspects of military service. Identify one day each week and designate those days to wear purple, patriotic colors or costumes, yellow ribbons, or clothes that represent the branches of the military.
Broadcast a daily or weekly announcement with facts about military families or military service. Ask a military-connected student to give these announcements or share an interesting fact about their military experience.
Decorate display cases and bulletin boards throughout with military memorabilia. Ask military-connected students and staff to loan items that reflect their experiences: places they have lived or traveled, past schools attended, uniform pieces, patches, coins, models, and more.
Display a world map with flag pins to show where military-connected students and staff have lived or visited.
Create posters thanking military kids for their service. Ask students to help create the posters. Ask military connected students to make posters about their military lives and experiences.
As a service project for a class or the whole school, fill care packages for deployed troops. Packages can be sent to deployed service members connected to the school or to a unit identified through the school or community. Don’t forget notes, cards, pictures etc. For ideas of what to send, ask a military family member, local military installation, or the Red Cross.
Invite a military member to be a guest speaker to talk about military life, responsibilities, and duties.
Make a time-zone wall with a series of clocks displaying time zones from deployment locations around the world, and locations where military-connected students have lived or might be moving.
Add books about military life to the school library. Have a story time with books about military kids’ experiences, the military lifestyle, being the new kid in school, or appreciating differences in one another.
When planning Month of the Military Child and Purple Up events, parent teacher groups, school staff members, or teachers may take the lead. Each has an important supportive role to play for military-connected students.
Stacy Allsbrook-Huisman is an Air Force spouse, writer, mother, and military child advocate. Stacy has nearly ten years of experience hosting or participating in Purple Up celebrations throughout her children’s school years. She is the coauthor with Amanda Trimillos of Seasons of My Military Student: Practical Tips for Parents and Teachers.