Lest we forget: Activities for a very different Anzac Day

Issue: Volume 99, Number 6

Posted: 21 April 2020
Reference #: 1HA78W

For the first time in the history of Anzac Day commemorations, Anzac Day services in New Zealand and Australia are cancelled in 2020, due to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has prompted calls to consider alternative ways of commemorating Anzac Day this year.
Here are some activities for teachers to share with their learners to mark Anzac Day 2020.

As we approach Anzac Day, many teachers may be looking for ways to explore the history and significance of Anzac Day with their students through their remote learning programmes.

Information and activities are freely available on the Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage’s NZ History website(external link) for teachers and parents. Manatū Taonga lead Historian educator Steve Watters says the site offers some activities for all age levels.

“There’s a range of activities to allow students to mark the occasion of Anzac Day. The website also provides opportunities for more in-depth inquiry into the place of Anzac Day in shaping national identity, as well as the wider impact and significance of war on New Zealand.”

In his blog,(external link) Steve outlines how the activities can easily be adapted to suit curriculum levels or support a senior history programme. 

“Activities can be used to explore key historical thinking concepts such as historical significance, historical perspective, and continuity and change. Anzac Day could be the basis for an examination of the place of commemoration and remembrance(external link) in our society. Students could consider what historical events we choose to remember or forget, and why. To guide this inquiry, students could be asked what it is that makes something historically significant enough to warrant such commemoration. From here they could begin to consider why the cancellation of formal Anzac Day services in 2020 is such a big deal.”  

Anzac activities on offer

Take the Anzac Day Quiz

An Anzac Day Quiz(external link) can help students uncover what they already know about Anzac Day, and help fill in the gaps in their knowledge.

Designing your own Anzac Day ceremony

With official Anzac Day ceremonies cancelled in 2020, students are encouraged to think about how New Zealanders might acknowledge Anzac Day in their lockdown bubbles.

The New Zealand Defence Force and RSA have launched the #StandAtDawn initiative. As part of Stand At Dawn the RSA wants people around the country to stand at 6am on April 25, whether it be in their homes, on their driveways or gardens — subject to safe social distancing.

Symbols and traditions

Teachers may also want to encourage students to explore the history, traditions and typical format of traditional ceremonies.

Children could design Anzac Day wreaths, for example, as an opportunity to discuss the purpose of the wreath and to explore the significance of the red poppy(external link). Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae’s famous poem 'In Flanders fields' is a good point of reference. 

Discussing the historical significance

There are exercises for older students which prompt them to think about a range of things, including the historical relevance of Gallipolli, the relevance of Anzac Day, and whether the Battle of Passchendaele should be commemorated to the same extent as Anzac Day. 

How to get involved in Anzac Day 2020

This is the first time since Anzac Day services began in 1916 that New Zealanders are not able to gather nationwide to mark the anniversary.

Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage has compiled a list(external link) of ways people can get involved in Anzac Day from their bubbles. From joining the #StandAtDawn campaign on social media, to watching a special Anzac Day programme on TVNZ 1, or laying a virtual poppy, there are a number of things people can do to commemorate Anzac Day.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:25 am, 21 April 2020

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