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The Unknown Warrior

Learn about the memorial to the Unknown Warrior and reflect in your own way. What would you like to say to them?
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Scissors
  • Sticky tack
  • A4 paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Access to a printer (optional)
  • Laminator and laminating sheets (optional)

Before you begin

  • Make sure you’ve risk assessed your meeting, and also have a COVID-19 safe risk assessment that’s been agreed by your line manager. You can check out more detailed guidance here.
  • Print out some information and pictures about the history of the Unknown Warrior. You can find some information on Westminster Abbey’s website. Older groups may be able to bring in their own research. You could separate the information into topics such as: who the Unknown Warrior is, where they’re buried, why they were buried there and when they were buried.
  • Read through the text written on the memorial of the Unknown Warrior and make sure you understand what it means so you can explain it to the group. Make each group a copy and split it into sections for everyone to put back together. It’s up to you how many pieces you make and whether you write or type the text. We’ve included it below.
  • Laminate the pieces to make them easier to clean.
  • Set out enough tables and chairs for everyone to sit safely distanced apart. Place some pictures, paper and pens on the tables so everyone has their own equipment.

Safety checklist

Use the Safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Additional coronavirus-related controls to think about may include: 

  • Make sure that everyone knows the plan for dropping young people off (and picking them up again).
  • Set up a hand washing station that you can use throughout the session.
  • Stay socially distanced when moving around the space and when talking to the leaders.
  • If you want to repeat ‘Discover what happened’, have time in between for a hygiene break and to clean the equipment.

Discover what happened

  1. Everyone should sit down at a space around a table. The person leading the activity should explain that the chairs are set out to help people stay safely distanced, so no one should move without asking first.
  2. Everyone should talk about the Unknown Warrior. The person leading the activity should make sure everyone understands who the Unknown Warrior is, why they’re buried in Westminster Abbey, and why they’re important for Remembrance.
  1. Everyone should split into small groups – one table makes a great small group.
  2. The person leading the activity should give everyone a piece of the memorial text and some sticky tack.
  1. Each team should work together to put the text in the right order by sticking the pieces on the wall or table. People should take it in turns to leave their seats and add a piece so they stay safely distanced – but they can work together to figure out where each piece goes.
  2. When everyone is happy with the order they should read it through and then compare it to the original. The person leading the activity should help people understand any words they don’t know.

Time to reflect

  1. Everyone should sit back down in their place.
  2. Everyone should talk about what they would say to the Unknown Warrior if they had a chance to communicate with them.
  1. Everyone should spend about 15 minutes using their pens and paper to write a story, letter, or poem to the Unknown Warrior. It should include some of the things people have just talked about and is a great chance to say thank you and reflect.
  1. Once everyone has finished, people who want to should take it in turns to read their letter or story to the rest of the group. Leave some time for questions or reflections in between each person.

Reflection

This activity gave everyone the chance to think about everyone who died during war. It helped everyone reflect on how different our lives are compared to back then. What did people learn about the Unknown Warrior? What’s the importance of them being buried in Westminster Abbey? Why is it important to think about and reflect on the Unknown Warrior during Remembrance?

In this activity, everyone thought about Remembrance and how it links to their lives. What did people find out about Remembrance? How did it make them feel? How are people going to take part in Remembrance this year?

Safety

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.