Remembrance Day, an event observed worldwide in all of the commonwealth countries, is our way of honoring all the brave people who died in the line of duty, making sure our world is a safer place today. But, how do we teach children about the importance of Remembrance Day?
For many children, history is only an abstract concept related to interesting names and events, something similar to what they see in video games. But, connecting theoretically learned historical events with contemporary traditions might help children bridge this cognitive gap without intimidating them.
However, we understand that the topic is burdened with intense emotions for all of us which can make the teaching process a bit more difficult. This is why we believe that sharing some meaningful Remembrance Day facts for kids will help you make this emotional transfer in a way that’s still appropriate for children.
In the first section of this article, we’ll discuss how to explain Remembrance Day to kids, what aspects to highlight or avoid, and what’s the underlying message that children should take with them. After this, we’ll break down some meaningful and interesting facts you can share with kids when teaching about Remembrance Day. Finally, we’ll recommend some educational and age-appropriate activities you can employ as a way to commemorate this special day with your child or students.
Explaining Remembrance Day for Kids
Some schools have annual ceremonies for Remembrance Day where all the students gather and some of them read poems or recite speeches. Even if you’re homeschooling, your child will still notice some of the traditions that are annually organized as a way to commemorate this day. However, children, especially preschoolers or elementary-school kids might have a hard time concentrating and sitting through the ceremonies if they don’t understand what’s really going on.
Understanding the situation on an emotional as well as cognitive level is crucial so they’re able to comprehend the importance and meaning behind Remembrance Day.
Here are some pieces of advice on how to convey the message and help kids connect the historical events with today’s real-life circumstances without scaring them.
What to Highlight and What to Avoid
When talking to kids about Remembrance Day there are three things to focus on:
- Simple Language
The first thing you need to regulate when teaching Remembrance Day facts to kids is the age-appropriateness of the language.
One good example of how not to approach this topic is like this: “Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday observed on November 11, on which the dead of both World Wars are commemorated…” (definition from Collins dictionary).
Some of the words used in the definition are way too complex for young children, which makes it hard to understand. Plus, even if they know the words, they might find it boring or cold.
Consider saying something like “Remembrance Day is very important for us because today we remember and give our respect to all the brave people who fought to keep us safe.”
Aside from the simpler language, another clear distinction between these two approaches is that in the second example, the wording is more emotional, which brings us to the next question.
- Positive Emotions
Children read emotions much better than we give them credit for. It is because they can’t fully grasp the complex phenomena in the adult world that they gather information about their environment relaying on emotional expressions and non-verbal communication.
Emotions such as pride, admiration, appreciation, or respect are hard to be verbally explained, but they’re easily detected. This means that using simple, but emotional words and conveying them with a warm tone of voice will go a long way in helping children realize the importance of Remembrance Day to all of us.
Last but not least, using words such as “wars,” “death,” or “fighting” can be scary and overwhelming for young children, especially when they sense the seriousness and emotional tone in our voice. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be open and talk about the harsh realities of our world. It’s simply a reminder to always reassure kids that they’re safe, and because of the people we’re honoring today, wars and other scary things belong in the past, and we’re grateful for it.
The Take-Away Message
Remembrance Day is an important part of our culture as a nation with a rich history and family values. This is why including kids in the observation rituals and explaining the meaning behind this holiday is another beautiful way to give respect to all the people that fell on the line of duty.
However, the way you’re going to approach this topic is also important, especially for young children. Try to use simple language, express positive emotions, and give reassurance for the future.
To be as specific as possible, here are some interesting Remembrance Day facts for kids and some additional historical information you can include to give kids context and educational wholeness.
Important Facts About Remembrance Day for Kids
Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day is a memorial day observed in the Commonwealth member states. The holiday is symbolically celebrated annually on the exact date when the First World War ended (November 11th), as a tribute for all the military men that died in the line of duty while serving their country.
It shouldn’t be confused with Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day, or even Veterans Day. They fall on the same day, but they represent different things.
Armistice Day marks the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany in France to stop all hostilities, which took effect on 11.11.1918 at 11:00 a.m. in the morning. However, Armistice day became a nationally recognized holiday in 1938 as a day dedicated to world peace. We might even say that Armistice is a precedent of the popular Veterans Day.
While Remembrance Day celebrates the soldiers that died while serving their country, Veterans Day honors the nation’s military veterans. Please follow the links included in the text to find out more about each holiday.
Remembrance Sunday in the United Kingdom is held on the second Sunday of November (the one nearest to November 11th) where people wear a poppy (the symbol of remembrance) and observe rituals at 11:00 a.m. – marking the exact time when the First World War ended.
In addition to the general definition, here’s some historical context that would be beneficial to implement in the lesson plan.
World War I
We celebrate Remembrance Day as a result of the consequences of the First World War.
The Battles of the First World War lasted four years, from 1914 to 1918 involving nine nations including Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire on one side, and Great Britain, the United States, France, Russia, Italy, and Japan on the other.
The immediate cause of the events that shaped the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand – the heir presumptive to the throne of Austria-Hungary.
However, things were much more complicated and you can find all the relevant information about the First World War in our worksheet bundle, or if you simply download our comprehensive World War I curriculum.
If you follow the link to our Remembrance Day for kids worksheet facts & worksheet bundle, you’ll see that, unfortunately, the First World War is not the only reason we have to celebrate Remembrance Day.
Once the Second World War ended, celebrations began to honor the lost lives in both wars. But, the World Wars are not the only events in which our nation lost brave soldiers. In our Famous Wars section, you’ll find many lesson plans, curriculums, and worksheet bundles that cover some of the most famous wars in the world and American history.
Remembrance Day Activities for Kids
Taking part in practical activities is fun, engaging, and helps children to emotionally get involved with the topic or event. This year, you can celebrate Remembrance Day for kids with our five hands-on activities.
The poppy is an iconic symbol that represents sleep, peace, and death. The symbolism dates back to Roman and Greek mythology, but in our context, we use the poppy as a memorial flower to remember the fallen souls in the lines of battle.
Making a DIY poppy is a great way to involve children in a hands-on activity while explaining and learning about the deeper meaning of Remembrance Day.
To make a poppy you’ll need a piece of red paper (A4), one green chenille stem (optional), scissors, glue, pencil, black marker, and ruler.
On the paper, cut out a circle for the base and then a smaller circle which you should color black. On the remaining surface cut out petal-shaped objects that will serve as leaves. Spread and glue the petals on the base circle in a couple of layers. Finally, cover the middle with the black circle. You can glue the green chenille stem on the base of the flower if you want to make a full flower, or maybe tape a safety pin on the base, which will allow you to wear the poppy flower as a pin on the chest.
Teach the Two-Minute Silence Act
The two-minute silence act is another iconic symbol through which we pay respect to the people that gave their lives in the service of our country. Today, the two-minute silence act is a powerful statement whenever we want to pay respect to someone who has died.
The act has its origins in Cape Town, South Africa, where a daily firing of the noonday gun initiated a two-minute silence; the act was repeated for one year (between 1918 and 1919). This act became known as the Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance, which later spread across the world.
Talk to children about the meaning behind this act, and practice it together as a way of honoring the fallen soldiers.
Visit a Memorial or a Museum
If the situation allows you, one amazing way of celebrating Remembrance Day is to take the kids to a memorial or a military museum where they can see and touch some of the historical items from the World Wars. This will make the event very real to children and they’ll have an opportunity to not only imagine, but also see the consequences of the wars.
Write Letters or Recite Poetry
A great mental activity, which doubles as an emotional experience, is instructing children to write letters to our fallen soldiers in which they’ll express their gratitude for the soldiers’ sacrifices. Young children can express their feelings in a very simple yet powerful way, while older students might practice expressing themselves in a more artistic way – through poetry.
Finally, another way to cover everything that Remembrance Day represents is to watch a historical documentary that vividly captures the events that preceded the war, the loss and destruction during the war, and the consequences after the war (the First or Second World War).
Just make sure that the documentary is age-appropriate, as some films are very graphically explicit and may disturb children younger than 12 or 13 years old.
Before You Leave
Since Remembrance Day is just around the corner, we hope you’ll find this article and the advice we gave you useful for creating an educational and meaningful lesson that will stick with students for life. Even if your plan is to simply observe and enjoy the annual traditions, kids need to understand the meaning behind the grownups’ actions in order to be able to make sense of what’s going on in their surroundings.
Regardless of age, our Remembrance Day for kids approach is a step-by-step guide with specific examples on how to teach the importance of this holiday without overwhelming or scaring young children. Furthermore, you’ll find that our worksheet bundles are easily adjustable and editable, so they can fit any curriculum.
We also offer a huge collection of worksheets and other teaching resources, covering a diverse range of topics that can be beneficial to you, as the school year progresses.
Finally, if you ever need advice regarding your child or students’ education, simply head over to our blog where we regularly share insights into the best practices for teaching youngsters.
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