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'How Do We Remember?' Activity (Ages 8-11)


Canada's last known First World War Veteran died recently. He was our only living link to the experiences of more than half a million Canadians who served in the First World War.


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?


Ask a volunteer to stand up. Have the other students observe their classmate and ask them to remember as many things as possible about their appearance within a time frame of 30 seconds. Ask the volunteer to leave the room and make five simple changes in his or her appearance (move a watch, roll up sleeves or pant legs, etc.). When the volunteer re-enters the room the group has 60 seconds to find the changes.

Follow-up Questions

Was it easy or difficult to remember what the volunteer looked like before they made their changes? Would you find it difficult to remember a person you have not seen in a year? What about someone you have not seen for five years?

How will we now "remember" the First World War and what happened from 1914-1918? How will we learn of and remember the first-hand experiences of the horrors and triumphs of the war? Will it be easy or difficult for us to remember First World War Veterans and the war itself?

Ways to Remember

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. Ask the group for an example of a special memory of the group "volunteer" and what makes that person special other than their appearance.

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 achievement.
  • 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.
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