Lesson Plan: I Remember D-Day and the Battle of Normandy

Aim

To increase youth awareness of Canadian efforts on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy.

Objectives

Youth will:

  • develop a basic understanding of the Canadian efforts on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of those who served on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 8 to 11.

Sequence of Events and Anticipated Time Frame [50 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory Discussion [10 minutes]
  • Word Search Activity [15 minutes]
  • Follow-up Activities [15 minutes]
  • Wrap-up Discussion [10 minutes]
  • Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [10 minutes]

Brainstorm with the children on what they know about wars. Do they know of any times when our country has had to fight in a conflict? More than one million Canadians served in uniform during the Second World War—that is more than the population of some provinces. Ask if any of them are aware of how Canada helped win the war. Have they ever heard of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy in a book, movie or from others talking about it? You may wish to record their responses in a thought web.

Show where France is on a map and how far away it is from home. Explain how wars are hard and very dangerous for those who serve in them. You could discuss things like how the Canadian soldiers had to come ashore at Juno Beach where barbed wire, heavy artillery, machine guns and enemy soldiers defended the coast. Share other basic information about the battle and the bravery of those who fought to help set the stage for the word search activity. Before beginning this activity, you may wish to read the Canada Remembers D-Day and the Battle of Normandy historical sheet to familiarize yourself with Canada’s efforts there.

Share that June 6, 2019 marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy and how some Veterans will be returning to France to be part of special events to mark this important milestone. Even 75 years later, Canada remembers those who served and sacrificed in this important battle.

Word Search Activity [15 minutes]

Distribute the word search activity sheet (PDF) and have children find the words relating to Canada’s efforts on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy. When they are done, you can then segue into the follow-up activity of your choice.

Follow-up Activities [15 minutes]

As time allows, you could extend this lesson with a variety of literacy-related activities to build on the words with which the children have been working. They could write definitions for the words or use them in special sentences to describe Canada’s efforts on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy. They could create acrostic poems using the letters found in the code name “Juno Beach.” You could have them write a short story about what Canadians did there using the words in the activity sheet and illustrate their story with a picture.

Wrap-up Discussion [10 minutes]

Take the opportunity to have the children share their definitions, sentences, creative stories or pictures with one another. Talk about the importance of remembering the courage and sacrifices of the Canadians who served on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy. You could ask if anyone has family or neighbours who served in the Second World War. They can also share their personal thoughts on Canada’s military efforts during that pivotal time in history.

You could cap off the lesson by showing the Heroes Remember D-Day video [11 minutes 22 seconds] which gives an engaging overview of what it was like to come ashore at Juno Beach on June 6, 1944 in the words of Canadian Veterans who were there. Review the video yourself first to see if you feel it is appropriate for the age range of the youth who would be watching.

Possible Extension Activity [variable]

Inviting a Veteran who took part in D-Day and the Battle of Normandy to be a guest speaker would be an exceptional opportunity to learn first-hand what it was like to serve in the cause of peace and freedom during the Second World War. For more information visit the Memory Project Speakers Bureau website.

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