War is a tricky subject to cover with younger children, but as poppies are a common sight leading up to Remembrance Day, they can provide a good starting point for discussion.
Remembrance Sunday this year will look very different, with parades and memorials being cancelled around the world. While the annual service at the Cenotaph may still go ahead in some form, it will be closed to members of the public for the first time in its 100 year history.
However, there are many ways we can still mark the occasion, by watching events on television or pausing for the two-minute silence at 11am on Remembrance Sunday (8th November).
We have put together a few topics and traditions to talk about with your little ones, as well as a few resources to help younger children understand and commemorate Remembrance Day:
Many people wear a poppy on Remembrance Day, and the days leading up to it. The red poppy symbolises remembrance, hope for a peaceful future and commemorates the soldiers who fought and died in war. Poppies were chosen as a symbol because they often grew in the battlefields after the soldiers stopped fighting. Purchasing poppies raises money to support serving and ex-Service personnel and their families.
A two-minute silence is observed as part of Remembrance Day to remember those who lost their lives in conflict. Held each year at 11am on the 11th November, the silence coincides with the time in 1918 when fighting in the First World War ceased and the war came to an end. The silence is generally observed at war memorials and in public places throughout the UK and Commonwealth.
In addition, the second Sunday of each November is known as Remembrance Sunday, and church services remember fallen soldiers while the Queen, members of the Royal Family, politicians and old soldiers lay poppy wreaths at the Cenotaph in London (near the Houses of Parliament) and another two minute silence is observed at 11am.
This two-minute BBC children’s animation is a gentle introduction to Remembrance Day. It follows a rabbit playing in a meadow that gradually becomes a First World War battlefield and emotes the feelings of war rather than visually depicting it.
There are lots of ways that our children can show support and mark Remembrance Day. Creating poppy pictures, doing poppy related crafts, or even making and wearing their own poppy, are all great ways to facilitate conversations with younger children and for them to engage and take part in the occasion.
Captain Tom is a wonderful example of a military veteran to talk with your children about. His book, ‘One Hundred Steps: The Story of Captain Sir Tom Moore’ is an inspirational, illustrated picture book for young readers about adventure, family, never giving up, and about what we can achieve when we work together. The book tells the incredible story of Captain Tom, following key moments of his life, including his recent garden walk during lockdown, which captured the nation’s heart.
There are many poignant Remembrance Day poems written to honour those who fought in the war. Some of these may be too advanced for younger children, but there are also lots that they can enjoy listening to - have a look around and see if you can find some your little one might enjoy.
Below are a couple (by unknown authors) that you might like to share with your children on or around Remembrance Day:
“I’ll wear a little poppy
As red as red can be,
To show that I remember
Those who fought for me”
“Poppy, Poppy, what do you say?
Wear me on Remembrance Day.
Poppy, Poppy, what do you tell?
Many soldiers in battle fell.
Poppy, Poppy, what should we know?
That peace on earth should grow, grow, grow.”
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