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Guide to using war memorials in primary schools

Child studying a war memorial © J Peach-Miles, 2012This overview shows just some of the ways in which war memorials can form a meaningful part of your curriculum throughout the year. Further information is available on our ‘How war memorials can be used by schools,’ primary helpsheet.

The following ideas can be taught as separate subjects or combined to make a cross curricular scheme of work. More detailed lesson ideas on general issues concerning memorials are given in our 'Introduction to war memorials' section, while key anniversaries and significant memorials are covered in other sections which can be accessed using the menu on the left.



By exploring the place of war memorials in Remembrance commemorations and studying the conflicts and reasons that led to the creation of so many memorials, even younger pupils develop an understanding of their significance. Older pupils can develop their analytical and questioning skills by examining what war memorials reveal about people and places, especially the local area, in the past.

As well as learning about the general history of war memorials using our 'Introduction to war memorials' resources, pupils could also find out about specific examples of particularly significant memorials or those that commemorate more unusual situations such as the Animals in War memorial.



War memorials were usually the responsibility of the local community. That local connection to the memorial is often still evident today. Studying your school’s local war memorial is a great way of involving the wider community in the school’s work. Caring for a war memorial by carrying out a condition survey and reporting the results of this also helps pupils develop empathy and play an active role in their community, and helps you incorporate outdoor learning into your teaching.



War memorial inscriptions can provide some interesting source material for studying language selection, use and meaning. A war memorial can also be an interesting and unusual inspiration for fiction writing, helping to integrate literacy teaching with the rest of the curriculum. Attending an event such as a Remembrance service or getting involved with the local memorial’s care can also provide stimulus for various non-fiction genres.


Children using the CWGC website to research war casualties © War Memorials Trust, 2012ICT/Mathematics

An important feature of many memorials is a list of names of the fallen. Researching these names provides not only fascinating historical insights, but opportunities to apply data handling skills.


Art and Design

War memorials can be used as a stimulus for the more practical curriculum subjects. They vary widely and often contain interesting design features. These provide opportunities for observational work and developing pupils’ own design ideas.

For students

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