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Poppies & Armistice
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Poppies and Armistice

Click on the animation above to join Ruby, a young girl from 1918, and learn about when the poppy gained popularity and significance in Australian culture and Defence history!

Red poppies are a symbol of honour and remembrance. Thousands of Australians wear a red poppy on the 11th of November every year. What do you know about poppies? What do you know about Armistice Day? Have you seen your local RSL Sub Branch selling poppies in November each year?

Victory Day Celebrations in the RSL Hall Charleville

Victory Day celebrations in the RSL Hall, Charleville, ca. 1946

Finding out

Since the First World War, the red poppy has become a special symbol of remembrance. In many countries around the world, people wear red poppies to remember and honour soldiers who have lost their lives in war. Search for pictures of the red poppy, either online or at your school library. This bright red flower is also known as the Flanders poppy. Can you find out why?

You may see people wearing red poppies in early November each year. Find out what special day occurs at this time of year. In Australia and New Zealand, red poppies are also worn around April 25. What day is this? What is important about this day?

A poem titled ‘In Flanders Fields’ is often read aloud at Remembrance Day events. Find a copy of this poem to read for yourself. How does the poem make you feel? What image do you think would best illustrate this poem?

Sorting out

As you view the video above, think about how the meaning of the red poppy flower has changed over time. Why is it important to have a symbol to remember and honour those who gave their lives in defence of their countries?

Why do we hold one minute’s silence on Remembrance Day? How did this tradition come about?

After viewing, can you explain three different ways red poppies are used for remembrance today? Complete the Close Viewing Activity (template provided) and give responses to several other questions about facts you’ve learned from the animation video.

View the video a second time and note the significant dates and events in the history of the poppy and Remembrance Day. You may need to pause the video to make your notes. Make a poppy timeline to tell the story of this special symbol.

Taking action

The RSL sells millions of red poppies each year. The money raised helps veterans and their families, whose lives have been affected by their Defence service. Using the template provided, design a poppy that could be worn safely by yourself, other children or your family members. Or make a poppy in any form you wish — consider using sustainable materials like paper and cloth.

Download Poppy Activity file_download

You may see RSL volunteers selling poppies in shops and other public places. Think of some questions you might like to ask, to find out more about poppies and remembrance. For example: What does the red poppy mean to you? Are there rules about how and when we should wear the red poppy?

PLEASE NOTE: Always ask for your parent or guardian’s permission and support before you speak to someone you don’t know.

Find out what you can about the history of wearing poppies for remembrance. You might start by researching one of the key people in the story of this tradition:

  • John McRae, who wrote the poem, ‘In Flanders Fields’
  • Moina Michael, who first wore a poppy to remember those who served in war
  • Anna Guérin, who first encouraged selling artificial poppies to help those suffering the effects of war

You may wish to use the Biography Profile template provided.

Download Biography Profile Activity file_download

Think about how these people shaped the way we commemorate Remembrance Day today. How might our remembrance symbols be different today if they had not made this effort?

Create a response to the poem ‘In Flanders Fields’. You might choose one of these ideas:

  • Create a collage or painting to illustrate the poem
  • Write your own poem about the sacrifice made by our defence families today
  • Create a background music track for the poem, using real or digital instruments
  • Create a slide show or video to present the poem, using photos or drawings
  • Choreograph a dance or movement to enhance the poem

Download Learning Guide file_download

For teachers and parents

Teachers' notes for Poppies & Armistice

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