Students will:

  • Understand the symbolism and history behind the Buddy Poppy
  • Draw connections between the poem “In Flander Fields” and The Poppy Lady
  • Identify ways that patriotism can be put into action

Three 60-minute Sessions

Materials Needed:

  • Buddy Poppy or picture of a Buddy Poppy
  • The Poppy Lady by Barbara Elizabeth Walsh
  • Copies of “In Flanders Fields”

Introductory Activity:
Read aloud the poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

  Between the crosses, row on row,

  That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

  Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

  We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie,

  In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

  To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

  We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

Whole Group Activity:
Display a picture of a Buddy Poppy or bring in one as an example. Ask the students if they know what the object is and what it symbolizes. Explain that the Buddy Poppy is a symbol of those who died in war, and mention that students may have seen these flowers used on Memorial Day to remember those who gave their lives. Explain that the students are not only going to learn more about what the poppy symbolizes but also about the woman who was inspired by “In Flanders Fields” and went on to show her patriotism as she honored those who sacrificed their lives.

Read aloud The Poppy Lady by Barbara Walsh. As students listen to the book, they should listen for examples of Moina’s patriotism.

Small Group Activity:
Have the students gather in small groups, review the facts they heard in the story, and share the examples of patriotism they identified. If students still have questions about the Buddy Poppy, encourage them to research the answers.

Individual Activity:
Pass out printed copies of “In Flanders Fields”, and have the students read the poem to themselves and think about the words in the context of Moina’s story, especially this part of the concluding stanza:

“Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.”

Ask the students to answer the following questions in their journals:

  • How did Moina take up the torch?
  • How will you take up the torch handed to you by those who gave their lives for our country?

Whole Group Activity:
Lead a discussion about Moina’s actions and the legacy she left and the students’ ideas of how they can carry the torch. Challenge students to think about patriotism as an action, and ask for examples of how they can show their respect for their country in tangible ways.

Class participation, journal entry

Extended Activities: 
Do additional research about the Buddy Poppy and how it came to represent veterans who sacrificed for their countries. Since the poppy is used in countries around the world, this research can include how other countries remember their fallen service members.

Draw or make poppies and display them in the classroom or school. You can also have students write the names of fallen service members on their poppies to represent those who they know who gave their lives.

Research Medal of Honor Recipients from World War I.