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How to explain Remembrance Day to kids

Talking to kids about the issues surrounding Remembrance Day — war, death and freedom — is as important as it is challenging. This holiday doesn’t hold any prospect of getting candy or a stocking full of presents, so how do you get children interested in learning more? You don’t have to be a history buff to pique their interest. Here’s how to get your child to wear that poppy with pride and to understand what it means.

Graves pf Canadian military veterans |

Make it personal

Does your family know anyone or have relatives who served in the armed forces? Show your kids pictures of great-grandparents and any artifacts you might have, like letters or medals. Sharing their stories with your children will help them relate to the occasion that much more. Explain to them that they’re wearing this poppy for Grandpa or great-Grandpa, for example.

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Create a playlist

The Remembrance Day soundtrack goes above and beyond the “Last Post” bugle call your child might recognize from school assemblies. Songs about remembering fallen soldiers can be a great way to spark discussion if your child responds to music. Make a playlist of songs, including “When Johnny Comes Marching Home,” “Last Night I had the Strangest Dream” and Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind.” Sing along to the catchy lyrics, and then talk about them.

Use a book

Head to your library, and find some books to help you start a discussion with your children. We recommend Proud as a Peacock, Brave as a Lion by Jane Barclay or A Poppy Is to Remember by Heather Patterson. Illustrations and moving words can lead to a discussion about the concrete images and words associated with the day (think poppies and the moment of silence) rather than the weighty themes. Books offer great talking points that explain why we engage in these important rituals.


There are various ways to mark the holiday in each city, from gatherings at cenotaphs to Remembrance Day concerts to poppy parades. Check out event listings in your newspaper or on your city’s website. Or find a military museum close by. Or simply don a poppy, and honour the two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. at home. Explain to your child that the moment of silence is the time for quiet thought, when we remember with respect and gratitude those who died.

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Get social

If your family is social media savvy, mark Remembrance Day the same way you commemorate Christmas or Thanksgiving: Tweet, Facebook or blog about it. Let your child tell your following what Remembrance Day means to your family and show off how proudly he or she rocks a poppy. Check out Veterans Affairs Canada’s Facebook fan page, and show your support on their wall. Better yet, have your child write a letter to the troops.

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