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Be active like Sergeant Tommy Prince - Lesson Plan

Aim

To increase youth awareness and understanding of the contributions of the Indigenous soldiers who have served our country by learning about the brave actions of Sergeant Tommy Prince during the Second World War.

Objectives

Through this activity, youth will:

  • develop a basic understanding of how Sergeant Tommy Prince earned the Military Medal during the Second World War;
  • develop an awareness of the impact of all the Indigenous people who have served in uniform over the years; and
  • participate in a physical education activity

Target audience

This activity is suitable for ages 8-12 (This activity can be modified to suit any age).

Sequence of events and anticipated time frame

(This activity can be modified to fit available time)

  • Introductory discussion (15 minutes)
  • Sergeant Tommy Prince obstacle course (variable)
  • Concluding discussion and certificate hand-out (5 minutes)

Materials

(These items can be modified to accommodate to the available materials)

Introductory discussion

Have a discussion with your students about what makes someone a hero. Discuss risk-taking, bravery, rewards, etc. Provide the students with a bit of an understanding about the First World War, Second World War, and the Korean War and discuss what they think bravery means during times of conflict. Sergeant Tommy Prince served in both the Second World War and the Korean War.

Then, discuss with your students the impressive service of Indigenous people in Canada’s military over the years. Share with your students that there were more than 12,000 Indigenous people that fought for our country in the First World War, the Second World War, and the Korean War. It is very difficult to determine exactly how many Indigenous men and women have served in uniform because the enlistment forms did not try to collect information on the ethnicity of people who enrolled.

Compare that 12,000 figure to the number of people in the class, the school, your community, etc. to help students better understand how many Indigenous people served in those wars.

Discuss the impressive military career of  Sergeant Tommy Prince by reading aloud or having the students read the article “Prince of the Brigade”. Focus on the events that happened during the Second World War when he repaired a severed communication line in full view of enemy soldiers. The skills and determination Sergeant Prince displayed were very brave and he would earn the Military Medal for his actions.

Discuss with the students how he risked his life to fix that important communications link. Discuss how quick-witted he was when he changed into civilian clothing to fool the nearby German soldiers and complete the task he had to do.

Tommy Prince obstacle course

Sergeant Tommy Prince had to be very creative and overcome obstacles to fix the severed communication wires, without being caught by the German soldiers. Create an obstacle course for students inspired by the kinds of obstacles that he had to face when he risked his life to carry out his mission.  

Teacher’s note: the goal here is not to play “war games” with the class. This activity should focus on making an obstacle course inspired by Prince and get the students active, while also thinking about Indigenous service members and remembrance in an engaging and respectful way.

Use pylons, Hula-Hoops, wall-mats, etc. for students to run, jump, walk, and crawl through at different stages of the obstacle course. For example, place wall-mats in the shape of a triangle for students to crawl under, or two pylons with a hockey stick on top for students to either slide under or jump over. Use pylons as a station where students need to shuffle between each set of obstacles.  Add stations where they should do jumping jacks or squats to continue on in the obstacle course. Use a whistle for students to have them freeze at random moments throughout the activity for a few seconds. This obstacle course can be modified to include the available material.

Alternatively, students could be asked to create their own obstacle course! It would be a nice way for them to use “map” skills to draw their course using available materials, and then construct it. In a physical education leadership class, a course could be designed by older students for younger classes to use.

Represent the severed communication wires with two separate jump-ropes at the end of the obstacle course.  Students must reconnect those two cords to successfully complete the activity. If it can be done safely, an electrical extension cord could also be used that, when reconnecting, could turn on a light at the end of the course! 

This activity could also be modified to make it a race between two participants by creating two identical obstacle courses (or a relay race between two separate teams).

Concluding discussion

At the end of the activity, discuss again with your students how Tommy Prince used his problem solving skills to fix the severed communication wires and bravely completed his mission.  

Discuss with students how Prince was awarded both the Military Medal and the American Silver Star for his great courage during the Second World War. Mention that only three Canadians in total earned both these medals during the conflict.

You could create and distribute Tommy Prince obstacle course participation certificates for students who complete the obstacle course and recreate, in a way, the ceremony at Buckingham Palace where Sergeant Prince received the Military Medal.

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