Lesson 1: What is commemoration?


By the end of Lesson 1 it is intended that pupils will have come up with their own definition of commemoration. A ‘graffiti board strategy’ might be used throughout the launch stage to record pupils’ initial thoughts and questions about celebrations and memorials, encouraging them to draw on their own experience and prior knowledge. The graffiti board allows initial ideas to be revisited, illustrating how initial ideas are often not the best ones and can be amended and clarified through further discussion and listening to each other. By the end of the launch stage the children will see a record of their ideas displayed and the teacher can show how their thinking has progressed from generating ideas, to refining and shaping them, so that they become clearer.


  • The class should be divided into 4 or 5 groups.
  • A range of visual images or pictures showing different forms of celebrations should be circulated to each group. (See Resource 1).
  • Pupils are asked to consider and discuss the type of things that are being remembered or celebrated in the images? (For example, special events / anniversaries / famous people)
  • Each group is then asked to focus on just one of the images and to discuss the way in which each of the events or celebrations are being remembered (For example, through medals / stamps / monuments / statues).
  • Each group shares its ideas and the teacher records these on a graffiti board.
  • The teacher explains that memorials are ways in which people remember (or commemorate) a person or event.


  • Each group is asked to suggest forms of memorials from their own locality or special occasions in their own lives.
  • Their suggestions could be recorded on a grid (below) or in Resource 2
Name of memorial Type of memorial e.g.(war monument /wall plaque /statue?) What is the memorial remembering? ( For example war/conflict etc.)

Each group compares their findings and identifies similarities and differences with other groups. In discussion pupils might consider:

  • If there are any interesting memorials or plaques in their area?
  • If commemorative artefacts have been brought to class (medals/coins/plates/photographs) who the artefact is for?
  • Which memorials are the most common e.g. in towns?
  • Would everybody in the locality be interested in the memorial?

Points are recorded on the graffiti board. Comparisons may be drawn between initial thoughts and ideas and the information the children have found out.

  • What did we find out?
  • What would we now change on our graffiti board?
  • What words or phrases best describe the term commemoration?
  • Can we agree a definition?

The agreed definition might be displayed in a prominent place in the classroom.


  • How did using a graffiti board help us to remember and clarify our ideas?
  • What further questions do we want to ask about memorials that are found in different communities?