Labor Day lessons for your homeschool

Aug 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. ET
Image: Andrew Rich/Getty Images

The advances in technology and the internet have opened up a world of knowledge to homeschooling families. I think I have learned more in my 12 years of homeschooling than I did in my 12 years of formal schooling.

These days anything we want to know or learn is just a click away. A quick search of any topic brings us a wide variety of resources, activities and free online lessons. Labor Day is no exception.

Labor Day in the United States

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and was created to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. Labor Day also signals the end of summer and start of the new school year.

More: Throw a family-friendly Labor Day party

History of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers. Many workers (including children) were overworked, underpaid and working in deplorable conditions. It is believed that a number of men fought for the rights of the workers, and thus Labor Day was created. The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, and planned by the Central Labor Union.

In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as Labor Day. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country. In 1894, Congress voted it a federal holiday.

More: Labor Day crafts for kids

It was decided early on that Labor Day would be celebrated with a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" of the community. Twenty thousand workers marched in a parade holding banners that read "Labor creates all wealth," and "Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, eight hours for recreation!" As the holiday progressed, speeches by workers were introduced, and more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday.

Labor Day lessons and activities

Kids with firemen learning about Labor Day

Help your children identify hard workers within the community, and discuss the many ways these workers contribute to your community and country. Have children discuss the work they do around the home or at church.

More: Teaching your kids about the meaning of Labor Day

Kids can go to work with one of their parents or visit workers in your community to see them in action. They can interview a postal worker, law enforcement officer, gardener or family member.

Kids with Navy learning about Labor Day

Quiz your kids about Labor Day by asking: What challenges and problems have workers in the United States faced while in the workforce? What is a union, and what is its purpose? What do you think Labor Day commemorates?

Free online labor day resources

  • My Community Unit Study - This free Pre-K to second grade unit study includes a reading list, activities and community helpers.
  • Career Exploration Web - With this sixth to eighth grade lesson plan, students build a web while exploring the correlation between different careers in the workforce.
  • videos - Kids will love these eight videos on the history of Labor Day and the fight for workers' rights.

Tell us

How does your family celebrate Labor Day?

Image credit: Tiany Davis