ANZAC Day Activities for Kids
If you want Anzac Day to be more than just another public holiday for your kids, it’s up to you to include them and educate them in the lead up to this commemorative day.
While school-aged children are likely to be learning all about the history of the Anzacs in the classroom, you can help the younger ones by sharing some age appropriate activities that will engage their inquiring minds as well as lay the foundations for understanding, empathy and respect. By putting in the effort you’ll be raising little Aussies who will always be thankful to our forbearers who safeguarded our freedom and helped create the ‘lucky country’ we live in today.
Explaining the Meaning of Anzac Day – How Much is Too Much?
It’s hard to know just how much you should share with your children about the meaning of Anzac Day, which of course includes war and loss of life. Talking to other adults, especially teachers, is a great way to get some guidance about what kids can absorb, depending on their age. Some day care centres and preschools will touch on the meaning of Anzac Day. Talk to your kids’ teachers to see how they will be educating their students about Anzac Day.
At home, keep it simple, as always with kids, using language they’ll understand. Start by explaining that Anzac Day is a time to remember all the soldiers who went out to fight for our country to make it a better place and to keep us safe and happy.
The subject of war is a complex one, even for grown-ups. If you do want to go into the details of the casualties of war, explain to your children that some soldiers go overseas to fight for our country, some soldiers come back and some get killed. It’s heavy stuff, yes, but that’s the reality and depending on how much of the reality you want to share and when, that’s a good place to start.
Activities to prepare your Kids for Anzac Day
Like most things, preparing your children for what is to come and what is expected of them is the best way to avoid tantrums and meltdowns. Children appreciate being included in organising events. By explaining what’s going to happen on Anzac Day you will give them time to process and prepare themselves.
Get the conversation started by getting involved in these fun activities, which will help them understand what the day is all about:
Anzac Books – Reading with your child is one of the best ways for them to learn and is, of course, a great way to bond. Check your local library for children’s books about Anzac Day. The story of Simpson and his Donkey has a great message and is easy for kids to understand – see more ANZAC book ideas here.
Buy a commemorative badge – these are available weeks ahead of Anzac Day and can be a good way to start the conversation about why we commemorate the day
Anzac Art and Craft – Another great way to get a conversation started. Even though the red poppy is associated with Remembrance Day, it has more recently been used as a symbol of sacrifice in war. Why not do a collage of poppies using red crepe paper or wrapping paper. Or just get the crayons out and get drawing. Rosemary is another symbol of remembrance and commemoration and can often be seen worn on coat lapels on Anzac Day.
Get baking – kids love cooking and being in the kitchen with them while talking about this special day will create a memory you will always treasure. Anzac biscuits are an obvious choice. Some families cook damper while talking about how things used to be done in the “olden days”, which includes times of war.
Is the Dawn Service Suitable for Children?
While it may be overwhelming to think about taking the whole tribe to a dawn service, it is possible with a little forethought and preparation. Many pre-schoolers are up early anyway, and the novelty of getting up and dressed while it’s still dark will excite most kids, which will hopefully give you a good start. Make sure you’re organised the night before and have everyone’s clothes ready to throw on. If you think the usual sit-down breakfast might be pushing your luck, have on-the-run food, like bananas, ready to go.
Make sure you’ve explained the meaning of Anzac Day ahead of the actual day (see above) and also explain what will happen at the dawn service. Tell your children that it’s a time for quiet voices and at times, no voices at all. Explain that during the quiet times, they can think about all the things they love to do – play at the park, read books, do puzzles etc. Explain to them they can do those things because of the soldiers that went to war to fight for our way of life and the things we love to do. Being silent is a good way to thank those soldiers in your mind. Check here or your local RSL website for details of your local dawn service in Brisbane.
Go to an Anzac Day March
As far as Anzac Day activities for kids go, this is probably the most kid-friendly event you can take part in. Most communities have at least one march and are a wonderful way to introduce your children to the ideas of pride, patriotism and sacrifice as well as the symbols of the poppy, rosemary and the Australian flag. There could be a few to choose from and if you think the march following the dawn service mightn’t be right for your kids, choose one that’s a little later in the day. Find more information about ANZAC Day services and marches for this year here.
There are plenty of ways to commemorate Anzac Day with your kids. Make this Anzac Day one to remember, Brisbane!