Remembrance Day Lesson and Ideas for Middle / High School Students

As Remembrance Day draws near, it can be challenging for students to truly understand the impact that the World Wars had on Canadian families.  I don't think I truly understood the enormity of it all until I stood in a World War II cemetery in Normandy, France.  It wasn't until I stood and read the sweet messages of love that were carved into the gravestones that I could really appreciate the sacrifice of each of the young men.  Although I don't have children of my own, I looked at the high school students I was with on a field trip and tried to imagine sending them off to war and then the heartbreak of finding out that they had died serving their country.  The memory of that moment is etched in my mind forever... and I know that it sticks with my students as well.

Although I can't take every student I teach on a field trip to the battlefields of Normandy I can share my own experiences and photos of my trip with them.  If they say a photo is worth a 1000 words then I will share as many photos with my students as I can.  Here is a resource I have used with my students over the years that I created using photos I took at various memorial sites in France. Combining the photos with quotes makes for a powerful writing exercise for students.  Click the image below to check out the Writing for Remembrance activity in my TpT store - it includes a PowerPoint of each photo with a quote and unique writing paper templates.  Makes a great classroom or hallway display.

There are also many emotional and powerful images available online that will help your students imagine what it was like to fight in years past or to be a member of the Canadian Forces now.  

The Canadian War Museum has an impressive collection of photos you can use as writing prompts in your classroom - click HERE to check out their WWI collection.

For a different spin on things why not show your students examples of Canadian War Art and talk about the difference in seeing a photo versus a painting.  Click HERE to see examples.  
Some questions to ask your students about the art could include - Why did artists feel it was important to capture the images of war?  How does the use of color change your idea of the wars as most photos are black and white?  

For a more modern look at Canada's Armed Forces check out this collection of 

Be sure to check out the official website (full of amazing resources) from Veterans Affairs Canada - they have an incredible library of resources.  Be sure to download the annual poster for your classroom and bookmarks for your students.

Highway of Heroes - Music by the Trews set to powerful images of our Canadian soldiers.

A Pittance of Time - by Terry Kelly - song and video about taking time to remember.  Would be great to use as a discussion start or journal prompt.

History of Aboriginal People in Canada's Military - a look back in time at the important role of Aboriginal people

I hope you and your students take a moment to pause and reflect about what Remembrance Day means to Canadians and the sacrifice that many have given.

Be sure to check out the great posts from more Canadian bloggers - there are some amazing ideas to share.  Big thanks to Two Peas and a Dog for organizing all of us!





4 comments

  1. Thank you for sharing about the Canadian War Museum's collection of photos! They are going to come in handy this week :-) Bryn

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  2. These are wonderful ideas! Thanks so much for sharing.

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  3. Thank you for sharing the links for the History of Aboriginals Peoples in Canada's military. I loved reading and learning about it! I love how you were able to connect the photos to student writing. This really would be an amazing bulletin board!

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  4. Lots of great ideas! Love the new blog design, too. You've probably had it for a while now, but I only just saw it.

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