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Time to Remember

One hundred years since the end of the First World War

by Revd Sophie Jelley (revised, originally published in 2009)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)

Aims

To consider Remembrance Day and why it is important to remember.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need two memory game trays: one with 8–10 easily identifiable items, including a poppy; the other with 15 more obscure items, including a poppy. Cover each tray with a cloth.

    Arrange for a teacher to be involved by playing the game.

  • You will also need to be wearing a poppy.

  • Note: please be sensitive to the children present. Some of them may have families who are in the armed forces or who have been affected by war.

Assembly

  1. Ask the following questions, giving time for the children to respond. (You may adapt the questions if you prefer.)

    - Who has a good memory?
    - Who can remember what they ate for breakfast this morning?
    - What did you have for tea last night?
    - What did you do on Saturday?
    - Who was the first person you spoke to when you arrived in your classroom today?
    - What was your first day at school like?

    Listen to a range of responses.

  2. Suggest that being able to remember is an amazing thing. Our brains are so clever that they can store things for years and years, like a small but super-powerful computer. In fact, in so many ways, our brains are more wonderful and more powerful than even the most powerful computer.

    Explain that you are not going to ask the children to remember years and years back today, but you have brought a game to test their short-term remembering. It’s called the memory game – they might have played it before.

  3. Bring out the first tray, still covered with a cloth.

    Explain that there are some items on the tray under the cloth. Ask for a volunteer to come and look at the tray for 30 seconds and remember what he/she has seen. During the 30 seconds, hold up the items for all the children to see.

  4. At the end of 30 seconds, ask the volunteer to write down or say out loud (so that a staff member can record) what he/she remembers. If the volunteer can’t remember all of the items, ask the other children to help out.

  5. Ask the children if they think that their teachers are as good at remembering as they are.

    Bring out the second tray, and ask the pre-arranged teacher to play the game.

    After you’ve had some fun, admit that you made it more difficult for the teacher!

    As previously, during the 30 seconds, hold up the items for the children to see. If the teacher can’t remember all of the items, allow the other children to help out.

  6. Explain that there was one item that was the same on both of the trays – can anyone remember what it was? Point out that you are wearing a poppy and ask the children why people can be seen wearing poppies especially in November. Explain that poppies are sold and worn every year around the time of 11 November. This was the day in 1918 when the First World War ended. It was decided that each year, on that day, people would remember all those men and women who had died or been injured in the war so that we could live in peace in our own country.

    Since then, Remembrance Day has been used to remember everyone who has served in wars throughout the world. Ask the children why the date 11 November 1918 is particularly important this year.

    Explain that this year is 2018. This means that it is 100 years since the First World War ended.

  7. Although 1918 is long before we were born – there are very few people remaining today who were alive 100 years ago - it is still important that we take part in remembering because there are lots of countries in the world that do not live in times of peace. We should not take our peace for granted. Christians believe that God wants people to live in freedom and peace and with justice. We should be thankful for the people who have given their lives so that we are free to live ours in peace.

Time for reflection

Every year, on 11 November, at 11 o’clock in the morning, a two-minute silence is held throughout the country. Often, the following words are read:

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

We will now keep a short silence to think about what we have heard.

Prayer
Dear God,
We remember those who have lived and died in the service of others.
We pray for all who suffer through war and are in need.
We ask for your help and blessing to do good in the world that you have made.
We ask that we will live in peace and harmony with one another and with you.
Amen.

Song/music

Popular songs from the First World War. Examples are available in the YouTube video, ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary/Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag’, which is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsynSgeo_Uo (3.16 minutes long)

‘Think of a world without any flowers’ (Come and Praise, 17)

Publication date: November 2018   (Vol.20 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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