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Remembrance Day

The Importance of Remembering: A PSED activity to try

Here’s an idea that marks Remembrance Day in an age-appropriate way. Our current Early Years generation will grow up in a world with no living veterans, so it’s especially important for them to develop respect and an understanding of the meaning of the date, and what it represents, early on.

This activity explores the idea of remembering and the children’s PSED progress. It can be used for groups of children aged 3+, and may be more appropriate to spread over the days leading up to Remembrance Day, rather than in one session.

Photographer: Chris Sansbury | Source: Unsplash

It is important to note that this activity will be tricky to navigate – emphasising how hard the World Wars were to live through, while avoiding talking about death, will be difficult. However, with proper planning and preparation you should be able to ensure that the children still benefit.

Follow our simple step-by-step guide to have a go at this PSED activity today:

What you will need:

  • Photographs and/or video clips of children’s relatives who were alive and served during the war.
  • Images of local monuments and past Remembrance Day services.
  • Poetry excerpts and diary entries from during the war. Keep them short and age-appropriate, and no mention of death!
  • Images of wartime Britain, e.g. the Women’s Land Army, ration books and soldiers.
  • Images of everyday life in Britain between 1914-18 and 1939-45. These could include fashion, technology and transportation.

Preparing the activity:

Ask your community of Early Years families for help:

  • If they have any living relatives who were alive during the war, could they record a short video sharing a memory from that time? Perhaps suggest some questions that they could answer in the video, e.g. “What was it like living off food rations?” or “Were you evacuated?”
  • If they have any photos of the children’s great-grandparents who served during the war, could they send these in for class, along with some information about that person?
  • Do they have any family members named on local monuments? If so, try and get an image of the monument.

See if a local museum is able to share any objects that the children can actually look at or even touch.

Doing the activity:

Choose a time of day when the children will feel more suited to a quieter, more reflective activity.

Start by talking about remembering things from a short time ago, gradually increasing the time distance and allowing children to realise it’s harder to remember things from longer ago:

  1. Who can remember what they had for breakfast?
  2. Who can remember what they had for dinner yesterday?
  3. Who can remember what they did last weekend?
  4. Who can remember what happened last week?
  5. Who can remember their birthday last year?

Next, help children to understand how long ago the wars were. Try to put the ‘when’ into a context the children can relate to; ‘before you were born’, ‘before your older brother/sister was born’, ‘before mummy/daddy/carer/guardian was born’, ‘before grandma and grandad were born (probably)’.

Next is the trickiest part: showing the children that the war was very unpleasant for soldiers in an age-appropriate way. Make a list of what to talk about and what to avoid.

Here are some suggestions:

Talk about:

  • Lack of food (e.g. making coffee out of mud).
  • Being away from family.
  • Living in trenches – bugs, wet feet.

Avoid:

  • Death
  • Killing
  • Injuries

Optional extras:

  • Use photos and videos (carefully selected to be age-appropriate) to show the children more of life during the war, both in the trenches and at home.
  • Go outside on a cold, miserable day and talk about having to live outside in that weather, without a warm bed or hot water.
  • Use the resources from families to help children relate more. A video from a grandparent talking about rationing meaning they had very little-to-no chocolate would be ideal!
  • Make paper plate poppies.
  • Draw pictures of children having to wave goodbye to families as they were evacuated, soldiers leaving home, eating boring food or working in the Women’s Land Army, recognising the hard things people had to do both off and on the front line. This could be turned into a big display around Remembrance.
  • Take children to a local memorial, explaining that the memorial helps us remember something important that happened a long time ago.

Activity conclusion

Remind children of the start of the session, talking about memory and how hard it is to remember things from so far back. Talk about how important it is to remember the soldiers in the war because they did such brave, difficult things. That’s why we have a special day for it every year.

Tracking the activity:

30-50 months

Communication and Language: Understanding: “Beginning to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions.”

Communication and Language: Listening and attention: “Listens to stories with increasing attention and recall.”

­­­­­­40-60+ months

Communication and Language: Understanding: “Listens and responds to ideas expressed by others in conversation or discussion.”

Communication and Language: Listening and attention: “Maintains attention, concentrates and sits quietly during appropriate activity.”