Cross-curricular activities: Remembrance Day
20 October 2008
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Commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I with our Remembrance Day themed cross-curricular activities
1. Assembly ideas
Talk about the things that the children tend to forget about in everyday lives – PE kits, lunchboxes or homework – and then compare them with the things that they always remember, such as birthdays, Christmas, or pocket-money day. Ask the children to suggest ways that we can remind ourselves to do things, for example calendars, lists and sticky notes. Agree that certificates help us to remember our achievements, and photographs recall special memories. Explain that Remembrance Day honours everyone who sacrificed their lives for us during wars. The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month is chosen since it marks the signing of the Armistice, on 11 November 1918 at the end of World War I. Tell the children that Remembrance Day is also known around the world as Poppy Day, Armistice Day and Veteran’s Day. Remind them that the symbol of the poppy, which represents both loss and hope, is a way of helping us to remember. Share John McCrae’s famous poem ‘In Flanders Fields’ with the children (see www.greatwar.co.uk/poems). Consider recording the television coverage of the Remembrance Sunday procession to The Cenotaph (on 9 November). In class, on the 11 November, children could then identify the main features of the annual commemoration service.
Read the Manchester Guardian account of the first two-minute silence (see Woodlands Junior School). Discuss how people would have felt at that time, and the different experiences the characters described might have had during the war – loss of family members, fear, separation, worry, loneliness, and so on. Divide the class into groups to create a freeze frame of the scene. Walk around the scene, focusing on particular individuals, and encouraging the rest of the class to track their thoughts. The freeze frames could be captured on camera, and the photos annotated with speech or thought bubbles for a display.
Listen to ‘The Last Post’ trumpet solo that is played at the start of the two-minute silence (see Woodlands Junior School). Sheet music for this, and the ‘Reveille’ that marks the end of the two minute silence, is available to buy cheaply from www.musicroom.com Children could learn to play them on the recorder in advance of 11 November.
4. History and literacy
The BBC remembrance website has a memorial listing the people who died on the last day of World War I. There is also a range of photographs. Find and print out some photographs similar to those on the BBC website and put them in a shoe box covered with brown paper. Ask the children to imagine that the box has been uncovered when moving house, and explain that these are people whose stories appear to have been forgotten. The box could be used as the basis for character work, with the children creating narratives around the people’s imagined lives and experiences.
Talk about the significance of Westminster Abbey’s Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and challenge the children to create an imagined persona for him. The tomb’s inscription can be read at Wikipedia
5. Art and PSHE
Create a poppy field display, with each child making a paper poppy. Children could write messages of peace to attach to their poppies. See www.indianchild.com/Peace_Quotations. htm for inspiration. You might link it with PSHE work on resolving conflict, and refer to the display when arguments crop up.
Using the famous silhouette image of soldiers (see www.bbc.co.uk/religion/remembrance) as a starting point, children could create their own silhouette pictures to represent experiences of war.