As an adult I have a better understanding of the importance of remembering fallen soldiers from the wars of the past as well as honouring the veterans who proudly serve our country today. After my husband joined the reserves, and did a tour in Afghanistan, I felt an enormous responsibility in my classroom to connect students with Remembrance Day. Because so many of the veterans of WWI and WWII no longer with us, I wondered how to honour their memory so their sacrifice would never be forgotten.
ACTIVITIES IN THE CLASSROOMArt: I love to do art projects for Remembrance day. I think my favourite image to create is the poppy and I have used different mediums, ideas and text to go with it. Here are a few different ones I have done over the years.
If you would like to find the step by step instructions for these art activities and many others please visit Gail, THAT ARTIST WOMAN. Scroll down the fall projects until you find Remembrance Day. You can also find more Remembrance Day art ideas on my Pinterest page.
Writing: A great writing activity for Remembrance Day is to write letters or postcards to Veterans or Soldiers currently serving. To find more information on where to send these messages please visit the Veterans Affairs website.
Reading: I love a good read aloud to introduce a topic to students; however, finding a story that is both appropriate for young children as well as relevant is a bit difficult for Remembrance Day. Here are a few that I use in my classroom.
'A Poppy Is to Remember' by Heather Patterson is probably one of my favourites. The pictures are beautiful, the text is simple and it helps students to understand more about why we wear a poppy and the importance of Remembrance Day. It also includes the ever important poem 'In Flanders Fields'.
'Lest We Forget' by Kerry Brown is a remarkable story in that it helps young children relate to the generation that went to war through images, in a way that is appropriate for young children. I think this book is a great tool that allows students to better understand what it must have been like for the soldiers and their families.
'What does Peace feel like?' by Vladimir Radunsky is a story with wonderful imagery and would be a great starting place for a writing activity where students could write about what peace looks like, smells like or tastes like. I love the pictures and ideas from children. This gives students great examples of things that they experience in their own life and how they can bring Peace to those around them.
I love how 'Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion' by Jane Barclay uses animals to tell the story in this unique book. The little boy's grandpa uses animals to describe what he was feeling during his war time experiences. It definitely gets me misty eyed at the end!
REMEMBRANCE DAY CEREMONY
One of the most important things at a Remembrance Day ceremony, besides the 2 minutes of silence, is inviting a Veteran to your school to lay a wreath and if possible speak to the students. My husband always attends the ceremonies at my school. When he was in Afghanistan a few of the junior high students wrote letters to him while he was there, and when he came back he talked to the boys and girls about his experience in Kabul. They formed a connection with him and I believe this made the Remembrance Day ceremony much more meaningful. If you would like a veteran to speak at your school you can find more information HERE.
Another great tool to engage students during the ceremony, or in the classroom, is showing a video. This one always gets me emotional, and encourages students before the 2 minutes of silence to really take time to honour the fallen.
My husband made this video using pictures he took of a memorial wall in Afghanistan with messages dedicated to the fallen.
Click on the links below to visit other Canadian teacher-bloggers showcasing their ideas for Remembrance Day lessons.