On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month marks a very important date in Canada; Remembrance Day. We took time on November 7th and November 8th to talk amongst the class about what Remembrance Day is and why we celebrate it.
I spent some time online researching support on how to talk to children about war, death, soldiers and Remembrance Day, but found very little. Instead I spent time reflecting and thinking about what I knew about 3 and 4 year olds and realized, I knew how to explain Remembrance Day in an age appropriate way. It's important to have analogies and examples ready that they have lived through. I had to reflect about the important parts of War and Rememberance Day and I believe that letting the children know that soldiers did it to keep us safe and let us have freedom was something they would very much understand. I mentioned that some didn't make it but I tried to be very detailed on the sacrifices they made and the reason they did it.
Some things I told the children were:
· Fighting is not okay
· People sometimes do need to fight to keep their community safe. If someone is trying to hurt other people, special people called soldiers, fight to keep their home safe. People don’t want to fight, they want to keep the peace and all get along but other people will not let them.
Example: when you see a friend being picked on by someone, so you tell them its not okay, and they begin picking on you too. So you go and get a teacher, soldiers are like teachers, they help to keep you safe.
· People who have special permission to fight
o Knights – in stories
o Police officers
· November 11th we take time to think about and remember the soldiers who sadly, didn’t get to come home from fighting because they died. We also thank the soldiers who did come home to their families! We thank all the soldiers who did their jobs to keep us safe so we can play and be happy.
I then asked the children if they knew what peace was. Our T/Th class didn’t know any examples so I told them what the M/W friends had shared because their examples were amazing:
I expanded it, telling the children being peaceful is when we are nice to people, polite and kind.
We also spent time talking about what we need to make poppies grow. The children told me we need soil, water, sunshine and a seed. I reminded them that people often put these seeds in gardens so that no one can harm the flowers, but during the war special flowers called Poppies, continued to grow even though people kept ruining and running and fighting all over the soil.
We read the book A Poppy is to Remember by Heather Patterson & Ron Lightburn which included a very famous, very special poem about Remembrance Day call In Flanders Field by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
The children all wrote their name on the back, glued on the poem in Flanders Field, and made prints with pop bottles, cork, and sponges to create their own poppy field.
During this craft I also purposely only offered the children a set amount of props to do the craft. This forces the children to share the pieces. It offers them opportunities to tell the other children in their art group that they need a chance with a specific piece, and even gives them time to comment on one another’s crafts. At one point two girl were left at the art table sharing the sponge to press their leaves. Each girl would use the sponge so many times and then hand it to the other child. While the one girl was waiting for her turn with the sponge I heard her compliment the other girl’s poppies, which lead to a longer conversation.
On our poem for our craft we included the bible verse:
I thank God on every remembrance of you
And before we made the poppy craft and left our circle, we bowed our head and prayed for all of our fallen soldiers during the war, and the soldiers who continue to fight for our freedom and safety.
Today, we remember all of the soldiers who fought and died for us.
We are blessed to be fortunate enough to have people who wanted us to be free.
Like Jesus, their sacrifice was offered for Freedom and Peace.
We pray for those who have given themselves willingly, those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
We pray for those who continue to place them selves in harms way to achieve peace & harmony.
May their sacrifice not be in vain.