Remembrance Day is around the corner, and I’m sure that we can all recall learning about it in elementary school. The earliest of my memories at school include the red poppies pinned to everybody’s coats in November. I remember packing everybody into the small gymnasium for the yearly assembly. We would sit there for an hour and listen to teachers talk about the importance of the day. However, we’ve already discussed how children learn best when they get the opportunity to interact. Here are seven fun and engaging ways to discuss Remembrance Day with your students this year.
1.Make it Tangible
A great way to engage your students is to have an art period where they can make their poppies. While they’re doing so you can talk about why the day is so important. It’ll give them a chance to wear something that they’ve made themselves to your school assembly. For this craft, you need some red and black paper that they can cut into a poppy and circle (respectively). You also need pins to stick them onto their shirts. Place the small black circle in the centre of the poppy and help your students pin them on. Let them show off to the other classes!
Once you’ve got your poppies constructed, you might want to talk about the importance of the poppies and why we use them for Remembrance Day. Poppies are the flowers that grew in Flander’s Fields when the war ended. This is why we wear them as a sign of respect for our veterans. If they haven’t heard it, consider reading or playing a recording of “In Flander’s Fields” for your students.
3.Discuss Current Issues
A good way to remind your students of the importance of Remembrance Day is to talk about the wars that are going on in the world now. Specifically, you could focus on the wars that Canada is involved in. Talking about current issues helps students understand why it’s so important to remember the sacrifices made in the past. If your students are old enough, I encourage you to explore how life during war-time is different than the life that we live in Canada. This is another way to appreciate the peace we live in.
4.Read Real War Records
Another way to educate your students about war-time is to read accounts that survivors have written. You can also incorporate a book that explores war as a theme in your class ahead of time. This way your students are prepared to discuss when November comes. Make sure that it’s in a language and reading level that your students can understand. This way they won’t find it discouraging!
If possible, you can consider inviting a local war veteran to talk about their experiences for your school assembly or class. War vets often have a lot of insight that we aren’t able to grasp from books or history lessons. What’s more engaging for your students than someone who has lived through what they’re learning?
6.Set Aside Reflection Time
War is a difficult subject, especially for students that are learning about it for the first time. Make sure that you set time aside for them to reflect and process what you’re discussing every step of the way. During your school assembly, a good idea would be to assign a room nearby as a quiet room in case any students need to step out. If you’re reading a book together, make sure to have frequent discussions. You could also give them some journalling time so they can put their thoughts on paper. Talking about Remembrance Day is important, but it’s also essential to make sure that your students feel safe and supported along the way!