On November 11, Remembrance Day ceremonies take place across the nation to honour those who serve or who served in the armed forces.
School-age children will no doubt discuss the day in class, but observing the day in some way as a family—even if it’s just to talk about the day’s significance with your children—is an excellent learning opportunity.
But how can you take such a sombre, grown-up event and make it significant for kids in a way they can process—and without scaring them?
Here are some ways to help kids find meaning in Remembrance Day. (Note that these activities are appropriate for children beginning at around age six.)
1. Get first-hand stories.
Arrange for your child to talk to a veteran or active military person they know, or to talk to someone related to such a person. For example, Grandpa can share stories about his father who served.
2. Explore the medals and decorations awarded to military personnel.
Find a story of a veteran who earned such an honour, like this gallery of recipients of the prestigious Victoria Cross.
3. Watch Over the Top from the Canadian War Museum.
Over the Top is an online, choose-your-own-adventure-style interactive story/game designed for youth and can be customized with the child’s name.
4. Attend a ceremony.
Kids may fidget, but explain to them that making a small sacrifice like standing still for an hour is nothing compared to the sacrifices made by soldiers in wartime. (Let us know if that works!) Every city has an official ceremony, as do many historic sites.
5. Visit a war memorial or military cemetery.
Talk with kids about the inscriptions as you wander.
6. Make a battle timeline.
Make a timeline of Canadian conflicts through history, either by hand or on the computer.
7. Serve a war-time meal.
This idea for educators, from Veteran Affairs Canada, can be done at home, too. Check out the Food Network’s list of 20 popular wartime recipes.