Anzac Day is an important day to commemorate with kids, no matter how old they are. Anzac Day is a day to remember the service and sacrifice of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey on 25 April 1915 during World War I as well as recognise the sacrifices of servicemen and servicewomen who have participated and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.
It’s been challenging commemorating Anzac Day at in-person events in the past couple of years with many Anzac Day Dawn Services and marches were cancelled for the public. However, Australians found different ways to commemorate the occasion at home and with their families. This year, we can now return to in-person event and we encourage families to mark the occasion.
As well as attending an Anzac Day service or march, you can also commemorate the significance of the day in other ways. It’s not easy to explain Anzac Day to kids but here are some different options you can do with your family to remember the sacrifice of the Anzacs as we approach Anzac Day.
Attend an Anzac Day Dawn Service or March
Anzac Day services are an important day in the Newcastle region with many normally attending the Newcastle Dawn Service at Nobbys Beach as well as other Anzac events. Here is a list of local dawn services and marches around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie and Hunter.
Watch or hold your own Dawn Service at home
Dawn Service will be held at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. To commemorate the occasion, you can rise before dawn and watch it from home. It will be broadcast live across Australia by the ABC and streamed online. The Newcastle Dawn Service at Nobbys Beach will also be broadcast on NBN and also on streamed online.
Last year, Victorian man Justin Wilbur, the son of a war veteran encouraged Australians to hold their own Dawn Service at home. He suggested that Australians come together in their driveways at 5:55am on 25 April and light a candle or use the flashlight app on your phone and share a minute’s silence. This is now known as the Driveway at Dawn or Light Up the Dawn movement.
He’s also suggested you can decorate your mailbox in the lead up to Anzac Day. #PutYourPoppiesOut For more information, visit the Aussies & Kiwis for ANZACs Facebook page.
Read a kids book about Anzac Day
It can be difficult to explain to children the significance of Anzac Day in an age-appropriate way. However, there are some beautiful picture books and chapter books available which tell the story of Anzac Day, the ANZACS and the Dawn Service. Here’s a selection of books for kids from preschoolers to school-aged kids to learn and appreciate the history of Anzac Day. Some of our favourites include Anzac Ted, Meet the Anzacs and A Soldier, a Dog and a Boy.
A local addition to the book list is Turkish Charlie Ryan: Canakkale’s Anzac Hero which has a connection to Thornton Public School. This book written by John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher and illustrated by local illustrator Lillian Webb is a book worth getting. The story of Charlie Ryan was discovered through interactions between students at Thornton Public School and students at the Turkish school TED Mersin College. The Turkish students asked the Australian students if they knew about Charlie Ryan, an Australian medic from country Victoria. This inspired local authors and historians John Gillam and Yvonne Fletcher to research Charlie’s story.
Listen to an Anzac Day storytime
You can also listen to Anzac Day books. However, Storybox Australia is a great in-home alternative. It features 306 stories read by our favourite Australian storytellers and it’s completely free if you belong to a local library. Storybox Australia has a collection of books including Anzac Ted, Anzac Biscuits and Alfred’s War. To access this free storytime, you’ll need to log into Storybox Australia, select your library and enter your library card number.
Visit a local Anzac memorial
If you can’t make it to a Dawn Service or a march, you can still pay your respects at a local Anzac memorial. Places of Pride, the National Register of War Memorials is an Australian War Memorial initiative recording the location and images of every publicly accessible memorial in Australia. Places of Pride allows users to explore the memorials of Australia, including an interactive map and search, connecting individuals with community memorials, and commemorating those who have served our country. There are more than 25 memorials in the Newcastle region.
Commemorate the Anzacs on the Newcastle Memorial Walk
Go for a walk along Newcastle Memorial Walk and enjoys coastal views and celebrate history. The Newcastle Memorial Walk at Strzelecki Lookout was built to commemorate the Anzac centenary and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle. It’s a powerful commemoration to local soldiers who fought in the First World War and a beautiful spot to enjoy our city. The walk features steel silhouettes of Anzac soldiers engraved with 3,860 family names of almost 11,000 known Newcastle and Hunter Valley men and women who enlisted during World War I. The 450 meter cliff top walkway also features history panels with information about different aspects of the conflict as well as listing the geographic place names of various conflicts. This video by local media company Out of the Square Media was created to commemorate the first Anzac Day along the Memorial Walk.
Field of Remembrance
Every year, Newcastle Museum commemorates ANZAC Day by installing crosses and poppies. The Field of Remembrance display is made up of the Newcastle Sub Branch RSL and community white crosses that each acknowledges the name of a service person with a connection to the Hunter Region. In 2022, the Field of Remembrance will be at Fort Scratchley. You can also listen to Walter Barton’s rendition of Last Post and Reveille.
Look out for giant poppies
Giant poppies are popping up around Maitland to commemorate ANZAC Day thanks to Maitland City Council. One of these will be a purple poppy, which recognises the courage and loyalty of animals who have served alongside our military in conflict and peace. You’ll find this at Bakers Brickyard Dog Park – it’s being painted on Friday 22 April. You’ll find other poppies at Maitland Park and in Morpeth.
Learn more through stories & videos
The Australian War Memorial website is full of useful resources that parents can use to share the significance of Anzac Day. A Very Special Day is a resource for primary school age kids and contains lots of information including a video The Red Poppy. BTN (Behind the News) is an ABC Kids news channels for kids aged 8 – 12. It has a collection of videos relating to Anzac Day including The Gallipoli Story, Indigenous ANZACs and The Animals of WW1.
Learn about World War I through an interactive documentary
Suitable for upper primary and secondary students, Days in Conflict, an interactive documentary series in six parts acessible via computer and tablets. Free to download, each chapter covers a different topic. From Gallipoli through to signature battles on the Western Front and the Middle Eastern theatre of war, to the experience of Women, Indigenous soldiers and Australian life on the Home Front in the years during and immediately after the war.
Download an ebook
The Australian War Memorial has ebooks available to download free of charge for classroom and educational use. There are 11 books you can download to read including Audacity, stories of Australians who showed extraordinary boldness or courage during wartime and Devotion, stories of devotion from Australian nurses who have been serving for over 100 years. For younger kids, download M is for Mates, an award-winning picture book which contains information about animals A – Z in war.
Bake Anzac biscuits
Making Anzac biscuits is a tradition to commemorate Anzac Day. It’s rumoured that during World War I, wives and mothers baked and sent these biscuits to troops on the front line. There are lots of different recipes available for Anzac biscuits and different opinion of whether they should be crunchy or soft. Here’s a link to the original 1914 version from the CWA Cookbook as well as an Anzac biscuit recipe by Donna Hay which combines crunchy and chewy aspects.
Make Anzac Day crafts
You can make poppies out of red crepe paper. Here are instructions to make a poppy from For Teachers For Students website. You can also make an Anzac Day Lantern. One of our readers Rhonda Daniel has posted a short video on how to easily make this using items you have at home.
Research a relative
The Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour records details of members of the Australian armed forces who have died during or as a result of warlike service, non-warlike service and certain peacetime operations. If you have a relative who perished in an operation, you can research their involvement and learn more about them. My friend Kate researched her relative Stanley Millwood Garnham originally from Morpeth who was killed in action in Gallipoli. As well as a photo, the entry contains information about his rank, unit and a copy of his circular (form sent to next of kin seeking details regarding the deceased). It’s a poignant activity for kids to learn about the sacrifices of their family member.
Through Google Street View, you can the cemeteries and memorials of Gallipoli. You can walk through the Lone Pine Cemetery and Memorial which stands on the site of the fiercest fighting at Lone Pine. It commemorates more than 4,900 Australian and New Zealand servicemen who died in the Anzac area. You can also experience the Anzac Ceremonial Area which is where Anzac Services are held each year.
Read the plaque at Anzac Cove
Try not to cry as you read the poignant words engraved at ANZAC Cove attributed to Kemal Ataturk, Commander of the Turkish 19th Division during the Gallipoli Campaign and the first President of the Turkish Republic. “Those heroes that shed their blood and lost their lives. You are now living in the soil of a friendly country therefore rest in peace. There is no difference between the Johnnies and the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side here in this country of ours. You, the mothers, who sent their sons from faraway countries wipe away your tears; your sons are now lying in our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land they have become our sons as well.”
Place a poppy in your window
As well as wearing a poppy, you can also make one and stick it in your window for people to see as they walk past your house.
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