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Chalk it up to Remembrance

Aim

To increase youth awareness of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the First World War and to engage youth in active commemoration of Veterans while remembering the sacrifices and achievements made by Canadians.

Objectives

Youth will be expected to:

  • develop a basic understanding of the Canadian efforts at the Battle of Vimy Ridge;
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of those who served and died in service.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 5 - 18.

Materials

Background

Chalk it up to Remembrance is a learning activity in which youth write messages of thanks or appreciation, or thoughts about remembrance on a classroom “chalkboard”.

April 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge that took place in France during the First World War. Why not take this opportunity to be active in remembrance with your students? Create a classroom chalkboard wall of remembrance and share with others through social media.

First, provide your students with a bit of an understanding about the First World War. Talk about how the war began more than 100 years ago, well before their parents and even their grandparents were born! You can mention that the war was such an important historical event that people often call it “The Great War”. Look at a world map and locate the continent of Europe, then point out France. Discuss how far away Europe is from Canada, and how far Canadians travelled away from family and friends to serve in that war. Ask if students have visited Europe and First World War battlefields.

Depending on reading levels, you may wish to provide students with the Battle of Vimy Ridge Historical Sheet.

Chalk it Up To Remembrance Handout

Share with your students the handout Chalk it up to Remembrance to help students understand how Canadians served in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and that in the hours before the attack, Canadian soldiers huddled in the trenches and in tunnels dug in the ground under the ridge at Vimy. Since the tunnels were dug in a former chalk quarry, the walls were soft and easy to carve with a sharp object like a pocket knife. The soldiers passed time writing letters home, and creating carvings in the chalk walls.

After the reading, discuss with your students some of the things they imagine the soldiers might have been writing. Were they thinking of life back at home? Writing about loved ones? After the discussion, take time to explore the photos of some of the Vimy chalk carvings on the Chalk it Up to Remembrance Image Gallery. You may wish to search the name of the soldier who carved the pig on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Create Your Chalkboard Wall of Remembrance

Get out the chalk and start writing on the chalkboard! Using good old dusty chalk is a great way to connect with the soldiers who were “trapped” between the chalk walls of the tunnels during the stressful hours before the battle.

Students may wish to take a moment to consider what to write or draw. You could also give them ideas:

  • Thank a Veteran
  • Remember a relative who may have served in war
  • Write a personal thought of remembrance
  • Draw a poppy

Once your chalkboard wall of Remembrance is completed, you may invite other classes to visit and maybe they could add their own Remembrance messages. Then, you could take a picture and share it on social media, such as the Canada Remembers Facebook page and Instagram VAC account! What a great chalkboard tribute of Remembrance!

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