If you’ve arrived at your teaching job in the UK and are unsure of what all the pupils and students mean when they ask about ‘Poppy Day’ they’re referring to Remembrance Day. Remembrance Day is marked in Commonwealth countries and is a memorial day that has been marked since the end of the First World War to honour armed forces who have lost their lives in conflict. The day, also known as Armistice Day, to mark the day of peace when World War One ended, is commemorated on November 11th.
What is remembrance?
Remembrance isn’t about glorifying war. It’s a personal and collective process that unites people of all races, cultures and faiths, in memory of people who have done extraordinary things in service of others. It’s also about pledging to care for the living.
School trip ideas
The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire is part of the Royal British Legion’s family of charities, and exists to help people celebrate the living and commemorate those who have lost their life in service. A beautiful woodland of trees, it’s a wonderfully peaceful place to walk and reflect. The 150 acres are uplifting and joyful, and a great place to take a school trip.
Another great place to visit is the Imperial War Museum in south London. The large museum explores conflict from World War One to the current day, reflecting the devesatting reality of conflict in the past and present. Their exhibitions and artefacts make for compelling viewing for students of all ages.
Celebrate countries around the world who have lost people in conflict by singing songs and reading texts from a handful of them, all of which focus on the theme of remembrance. You can set a short reflective silent period where students thing about what remembrance means to them. It’s also a really nice opportunity to have discussion across year groups, with talks among peers about things such as what service means and how they remember. Opening up dialogue across age groups is great for development.
Go for a walk
Nearly every village, town and city in Europe has a memorial to a war which affected its community. Take a walk out one morning to see the one in your area. Often they have names etched in the You can also take a wreath to lay.
Project based learning
Remembrance Day is ideal for cross curricular learning. Why not set a project where students find out more and write about a soldier from their town? This brings together history of the town and conflict, geography understanding where it was, PHSE when thinking compassionately about other people and their challenging situation, and English and literacy when writing about it. It’s also a great opportunity for students and pupils to explore their local community and speak to people in it.
Encourage the students to sell poppies to wear on their uniforms. As well as an important marker of respect and remembrance, it allows for conversations across the school, and helps with money maths.
The British Legion website also has loads of great resources for teaching about Remembrance Day.