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Poster Activity (Ages 8-11)

Remembering the First World War


To gain an appreciation of the achievements and sacrifices of Canadians who served in the First World War, to develop an understanding of the importance of remembering those who served and to develop an appreciation of what the loss of Canada's First World War Veterans means to Canadians.

Specific Learning Outcomes

After completing this module young people will:

  • have a better knowledge of war, peace, and remembrance;
  • be able to discuss the sacrifices of those who served Canada in wartime;
  • have a better understanding of the historical significance of the First World War; and
  • be able to express their understanding of the loss of Canada's First World War Veterans through: listening; reading; sharing orally; creating; writing; and reflecting.

Sequence of Activities and Anticipated Time Frames

  • Viewing the Poster (10 minutes)
  • Discussion: Ways to Remember (10 minutes)
  • Closure Activity: We Remember Learning Stations (40 minutes)

Class Materials


The First World War was a long and terrible war from 1914-1918. It was often called the Great War. Thousands of Canadians enlisted help protect rights and freedoms around the world. More than 60,000 Canadians lost their lives in this war and would never return home to their families.

When the war ended November 11, 1918, citizens celebrated the return of peace.

The thousands of Canadians who enlisted in the First World War were a remarkable generation. They fought for Canadians and the future of Canada—they fought for peace.

Viewing the Poster

Display the Canada Remembers the First World War poster (download the image, print and distribute to each youth; display digital image with an LCD projector and computer; or transfer image to transparency and use an overhead projector).

Look at the faces in the images. Encourage each student to express an opinion as to the age of the people in the photos.

It was not uncommon during the war years for teenagers 15 or 16 years old to exaggerate their age in order to enlist. Many soldiers were no older than young people in high school today.

Canada's last known First World War Veteran was only 15 years old when he joined the army. He, like the men in the poster, was part of an extraordinary group of Canadians who served in the First World War.

  • What are the similarities between them? Do they have brothers and sisters? Are they growing up in a small towns? Do they have a hobby?
  • Like thousands of other Canadians, Canada's First World War Veterans wanted to serve in the First World War to preserve peace and freedom. Discuss what classmates have done or what they hope to do to work towards peace in their communities.

Post a "thought web" on a white board, flip chart or chalk board to guide a discussion about the poster and the Canadian men and women who served in the First World War.

Suggested discussion topics

  1. The image to the right is of Canadian soldiers (of the same age as Canada's last known First World War Veteran when he went to war) returning from the front lines at Vimy Ridge, an important battle of the First World War. They are riding on the back of a truck, happy to have achieved a victory at Vimy a month earlier in April, 1917. Why do you think they are happy? What are they looking forward to? What might they be proud of? Imagine one of these men is your relative; your brother or your dad. They are all people who were loved by their families. Some of them did not return home. How does this make you feel? How do you think their families would have remembered them?
  2. The image to the left is of Canadian soldiers digging in a trench. During the First World War Canadian soldiers lived and fought in trenches in Europe. Trench warfare was hard and dangerous for the soldiers. There were mazes of underground tunnels and trenches. Soldiers often had to sneak up on the enemy and set off explosions beneath them. The enemy did the same. There were terrible living conditions in the trenches ... rain and snow filled them up with water so they were very wet and muddy and there were many rats and lice. How do you think soldiers felt about living and fighting in trenches? How would it make you feel to be in such a setting?
  3. The image above and to the left in the poster is the St. Julien Memorial in Belgium. The memorial to Canadians features a large 11-metre high stone figure of a sad soldier, with his head bowed. This is one of the many different ways we can remember. What other ways to remember have you seen in your community?

Add the answers the "thought web" on the wall or board.

Discussion: Ways to Remember

Talk to students about remembering things or people that they have lost such as a pet or a loved one.

  • How does it make you feel to lose something or someone?
  • How easy is it to remember and describe things we have lost?
  • Is it easy to remember what a person or pet looked like? Why or why not?
  • If you didn't have a photograph of a person would you be able to easily remember them?

Explain to students that while we may not be able to remember what someone looks like, we can often remember what someone has done that makes them special. Ask them to think of a special memory or time they spent with a person.

Explain that while we may not have a personal memory of an experience with a First World War Veteran, there are things we can do to help us honour and remember the special things that they did and what they were like. Use the following ideas to discuss how.

  • Physical reminders of remembrance such as memorials, monuments and war cemeteries in our community can help us remember.
  • Words can help us remember, such as the loving words that are carved into the headstones of soldiers in cemeteries or letters, diaries, songs and poems written by soldiers during the war. Writing our own thoughts in a story or a poem can also express our feelings about sacrifice and acheivement.
  • Things that we can see such as Remembrance Day ceremonies, movies, and art can help you imagine what war was like and honour those who served.
  • Symbols such as pins, wreaths, poppies, Izzy Dolls and peace cranes can also help us promote remembrance.

We Remember Learning Stations

Pre-Activity Set-Up

  1. Divide your class into 4 groups. Each group will sit at different learning stations to create a symbol to remember those who served in the First World War.
  2. Set Up the room in advance of the lesson by setting up four stations in the room. This can be done by grouping desks, chairs and tables together.
  3. Print off instructions for each of the learning station groups:
  4. Sit students at different "remembrance stations" and ask each group to create a symbol to remember those who served in the First World War.
    • Members of the Architects' Corner will create a physical reminder of remembrance of the First World War. They will design a memorial or monument on poster paper.
    • Members of the Writers' Circle will use words to promote remembrance. They will write an acrostic poem about Canada's First World War Veterans.
    • Members of the Viewing Gallery will use art and events such as Remembrance Day ceremonies, movies and art to promote remembrance. They will create their own visual tool of remembrance—whether it is a skit or a poster.
    • Members of the Symbol Station will learn about symbols of remembrance such as pins, wreaths, poppies, Izzy Dolls and peace cranes. They will create their own poster of remembrance using these symbols.
  5. Distribute the four envelopes with the instructions inside to each station. Ask the groups to open them and read their instructions together and begin their discussions. Walk around to answer any questions and distribute poster paper and markers to each station.
  6. When all groups have completed their posters or presentations, have them present to the whole class.
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