How do you explain a concept like Anzac Day to small kids? It's commemorating a part of our history that will forever be significant, but it stems from an era they know very little about and may struggle to comprehend. World Wars and soldiers and death are not easy topics to broach with little ones, but that doesn't mean we should put this conversation in the 'too hard' basket.
Craft and stories are a great way to make these tricky topics accessible, and we were lucky enough to have teacher-librarian Emma Cox recently share some of her favourite Anzac Day activities. Lest we forget.
You can listen to Emma's full chat on Feed Play Love here:
Anzac Day picture books for ages 3-6
1. The ANZAC Tree by Catherine Booth
Inspired by a true story of two soldiers who planted trees on their property before going off to war, this story looks at how wars have an intergenerational impact.
2. ANZAC Biscuits by Phil Cummings and Owen Swan
This story cleverly mirrors the act of making Anzac cookies with what life was like in the trenches. It shows a family torn apart by war, brought together through the simple act of baking.
3. My Grandfather’s War by Glyn Harper and Jenny Cooper
In this story, a young girl manages to get her grandfather to open up about his experience during the Vietnam War.
4. Alfred’s War by Rachel Bin Sellah and Samantha Fry
This book looks at war from an indigenous perspective. It discusses the lack of recognition given to Australia's Indigenous servicemen who returned from the WWI battle lines - and the struggle this caused. It's equally a story about equality and treating others fairly.
5. ANZAC Ted by Belinda Landsberry
ANZAC Ted is about a bear that is given to a boy by his grandfather. It's battered and scuffed ... and that's because this bear has been to war. It provides a powerful and relatable vantage point for talking about war with kids.
Anzac Day picture books for older kids
For those with older kids, Emma recommends:
6. Lone Pine by Susie Brown, Margaret Warner and Sebastian Ciaffaglione
7. In Flanders Field by Norman Jorgensen and Brian Harrison-Lever
Craft and activities
8. Baking ANZAC biscuits and talking about how they came about
You can find our favourite recipe (complete with Anzac-bikkie ice cream) here.
9. A visit to the local war memorial or memorial gardens
If you live near a war memorial, taking kids to visit this can be a great way to spark a conversation and get them learning about our country's history. A list of all memorials in Australia can be found here.
10. Find rosemary in the garden and talk about how this herb grows on the Gallipoli coastline as a symbol of remembrance
Australia's efforts in war aren't something that are only discussed inside Australia. It is part of a much bigger global conversation.
11. Making a red poppy
Follow this tutorial to make an origami poppy, and discuss the flower's significance on Anzac Day as you do so. You can find out more about poppies on the Australian War Memorial website.
If you have an Anzac Day activity that you love to do with your kids, we'd love to hear it! Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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