Anzac Day 2013 – part one

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Anzac Day 2013
Here in New Zealand we recognise every 25th of April as Anzac Day. It is a day of remembrance where we honour the men and women who lost their lives in the service of our country. Anzac Day is recognised on April 25th because that is when the Anzac’s (Australian and New Zealand troops) landed at Gallipoli during WW1 marking their entry into the war. Anzac Day is also recognised in Australia. For more information check out NZ History

If I try and think about the meaning of Anzac Day or its purpose in modern day society, I have to think it is as a warning. Don’t make the same mistakes of the past. War is expensive and it is people who pay the price in blood and in tears.

Obviously (to me at least) this requires some serious thought as to how we are going to recognise the event of Anzac Day with my class of infants and toddlers. War and death are not age appropriate topics for my group, but that doesn’t mean we should just pretend like it isn’t happening. Who knows, some of my group could be taking part in one of the dawn services. Older brothers and sisters could be talking about it. Or maybe there is a family member currently serving in the armed forces. As a teacher I can not assume that my children will not be exposed to Anzac Day ideas while outside the centre so it is up to me to make sure they get opportunities to explore these ideas fully during their time in the centre.

What to focus on?
While death and war may not be great topics for my group of infants and toddlers, service and recognising service could be perfect.

Anzac Day also has its own symbols and rituals which we can experience and explore. Like wearing a red poppy as a symbol of remembrance, making Anzac Biscuits, or laying wreaths.

How to begin?
At a recent professional development day, Tiziana Filippini, talked about how we as teachers create the context in which children learn. What we bring into the learning environment and how we present it determines what is possible. For instance, the children can’t engage and explore Anzac symbols if they are not there. Taking this message to heart, my co-teachers and I decided to make an effort to make Anzac Day visible in our classroom. We started with the Anzac display seen above, including images of Poppies, veterans and wreaths, we even made some felt poppies to add a bit more interest. I am happy to say the children have been engaging with the display, touching the images and feeling the soft felt poppies. I also started wearing my Anzac badge, a small enamel poppy. The children also noticed this and one particular girl has been reaching out and gently touching the poppy.

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So now that I have the children’s attention, what next?
My teaching team and I brain stormed different ideas for recognising Anzac Day including creating our own wreath and taking a trip to our local war memorial to lay it and making many Anzac biscuits and perhaps handing them out to members of the public. While I still think this was an awesome idea, we decided upon a different field trip…

The plan (flexible)
1. Bake Anzac biscuits
2. Create an Anzac wreath
3. Present biscuits and wreath to a representative from the Navy at the nearby Navy museum!

This is happening next Wednesday, the day before Anzac Day, and I am super excited.

The wreath…
We are making our wreath from fabric flowers and fresh green camellia leaves. To make the flowers we have been working on a collaborative fabric painting. We set this up next to the Anzac display and see who’s interested at different times of the day and across many different days. Most days a small group of two or three children will add their marks to the painting. It is a very relaxed, tactile, experimental experience, where our youngest children figure out what all this paint is about and our older children figure out what they can do with paint. It is my hope that our good feelings are captured in the paint and will be transmitted into our wreath. Fingers crossed.

This is as far as we have gotten so far. There is still a bit of work to do including assembling the wreath and baking the cookies, but it is feeling really buzzy. I can’t wait to fill you in on how it all goes after the big day! In the mean time, how will you recognise Anzac Day? Anyone getting up for a dawn service?

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