How do we explain Anzac Day to toddlers?

The Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Ministry of Education has a programme underway to introduce our youngest generation to the subject.

This week, children at ABC Kawaha Point have been exploring the history of Anzac Day and why the event is still significant in our lives. Early childhood teacher Melissa Temara said the preschool's Anzac mission began after they received a Fields of Remembrance World War I Commemoration Package from the Ministry of Education. Melissa grew up in Waiouru and the army has been an important part of her life.

"As we began unpacking it we could see the eagerness and wonder in our children's eyes and started to brainstorm ideas. Before long we had a full military base in action including a hospital, letter writing station, sleeping barracks and battle fields."


Melissa's friends from Waiouru came to the party lending the preschool some of their army kit, including camo gear.

Included in the package were three white crosses to commemorate the men and women who died serving New Zealand during the war. The crosses represented Sergeant Dick Travis - New Zealand's most decorated soldier killed in action in July 1918, Staff Nurse Nona Hildyard - died 23 October 1915 on board the Marquette, hit by a German torpedo and Second Lieutenant Thomas Grace - killed in action on 8 August 1915 at Chunuk Bair.

"Over the weeks we've been able to make links with photos from the past to the present, created poppies, the Anzac biscuits story, humanity rescue missions and so much more."

Melissa says throughout their Anzac experience the children are developing skills and lifelong attributes such as gratitude, empathy, general knowledge about our world, humanity and team work.

"It's been an amazing journey - the children's sense of pride of their family connections and hearing about their families - it's been quite lovely."

ABC Kawaha Point are holding their own remembrance service at 9.30am today and welcome everybody along to take part.

* The Fields of Remembrance Trust and the Ministry of Education partnered to focus on supporting all early learning services to join in the nation's four-year World War I commemoration effort to inform younger generations and stimulate conversation about this part of New Zealand's history and the impact of World War I on New Zealand.