To many Australians, Anzac Day is a special day of the year. The name Anzac, which stands for Australia and New Zealand Army Corps, was the name given to the service man and women who represented Australia during war times. Anzac day, which is the 25th of April, marks the first military engagement of Australian and New Zealand soldiers at the landing of Gallipoli. Anzac day not only is a day to remember those who fought and the lives that were lost, but it is also a time for Australian's to reflect and remember ALL the service men and women who have fought bravely for the freedom of our country.
Each year, my children have done a number of activities which have slowly helped them understand the story behind Anzac day and the importance of it (you can read about what we did last year when Learning about Anzac Day). So I thought I would share some of these ways to give you ideas for helping your own children/students understand Anzac Day.
Baking Anzac Biscuits
The simple Anzac biscuit has become a tradition in our house as it has long been since associated with the original Anzac's. Legend has it that the Aussie wives/sisters/mothers would bake these biscuits and sent them to their husbands/brothers/fathers who were fighting at the war front. You can download our recipe from here.
This beautiful picture book, Anzac Biscuits by Phil Cummings and Owen Swan, has helped us learn more about the legend behind these biscuits and the connection between the soldiers and their families.
Anzac Day Crafts
Last year my children painted some Red Poppies. Although Red Poppies are a symbol of Remembrance Day, it was the first plant life to spring up on the devastated battle fields in Europe where the Anzac's had fought. If painting is not your thing, here is a free Red Poppie craft that you can download and make.
Another story I have read with my son (8yrs old) is What Was the War Like, Grandma? by Rachel Tonkin. This book is based on the second world war and how the wars impacted on Australia's society and homeland at that time.
You can see more picture books about Anzac Day and read their reviews from The Book Cook and My Little Bookcase.
A Dawn Service is held all across the country each Anzac day in remembrance of the dawn landing at Gallopoli in 1915. As my children have gotten older, we have taken them to the dawn services where they hear The Last Post being played, poems and names of service men and women who have served our country and see the Australia flag fly at half mast.
This lovely picture book, My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Catriona Hoy and Benjamin Johnson, is a story told by a little girl and how she sees Anzac Day, starting with the dawn service. This book looks at the connection between families and memories and helped us understand the significance of the dawn service.
Local Military Memorial
Dawn services are usually held at local memorials. You will find that most towns in Australia have military memorials that are in honour of past serving men and women who had lived in that region. Having lived and travelled in many different places around Australia, our children have seen a number of Military Memorials in different places. I would encourage you to take your children to visit your local memorial.
Anzac Day March
Every Anzac Day in every capital city and small towns around Australia there is an Anzac Day march. This is a time for all past and present serving service men and women as well as family members of the fallen, to participate in the march to remember those who fought for our country. Attending an Anzac Day march is a wonderful way for children to make that connection with what they have learnt about.
This beautiful picture book, My Grandad Marches on Anzac Day by Glenda Kane and Lisa Allen, shares the connection between a young boy and a elderly war veteran during an Anzac Day parade. We have read this book to understand more about the significant of the parade and those that march in it.
Australian War Memorial
Although it may not be possible for everyone, if you ever get the chance to take your children to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, then you should do so. My son was just seven years old when we went but he enjoyed seeing all the artifacts and historical pieces that are on display there. However, it was the Roll of Honour that took my son by surprise. Seeing the walls filled with names of all the serving men and women who have died for Australia's freedom made their sacrifices real and emotional.
Letters to Troops
Anzac Day is not just about past service men and women but also about those who are actively deployed around the world today. The recently military involvement with Australian troops will see some children grow up without their Dads, Uncles and Brothers. It is important to remember and support the serving men and women who are deployed in peacekeeping operations overseas and you can do this by getting involved with Postcards To The Troops.
Visit Your Local RSL
The Returned and Service League of Australia started as a direct result from 1914-1918 war from the Australian Diggers mateship. You can get in contact with your local RSL and talk with local veterans who have served Australia and can share stories and experiences with your children.
Watching documentaries and movies on Australian's at war is not an activity for young children but older children (maybe 12 years plus) would find this activity educational in their understanding of the Anzac. There are some Australian War Movies for Anzac Day that may interest your older children.
The voluntary organisation known as Legacy, is dedicated to caring for the families of deceased and incapacitated veterans. Getting involved with Legacy is a wonderful opportunity to give back to the community and support those who have scarified so much. So why not get your children involved in this community volunteer work. You can Get Involved with this wonderful organisation by fundraising for Legacy, sponsorship, become a volunteer, workplace giving and/or purchasing merchandise from your local Woolworths.