Commemorating Anzac through engaging learning

English Stage 2


A lawn with a tall, thin monument and palm trees

Anzac Cenotaph and Esplanade, Townsville, Queensland, c. 1935

Through the text Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan, students explore the author’s and illustrator’s representations of memories, memorials and their significance in communities. Students compose a letter seeking to protect a community memorial and compose a poem that commemorates the fallen.

Teaching and learning activities

Branches of a tree looking towards the sky

In 'Memorial', a fig tree is planted to remember those who served. Moreton Bay fig branches, 2015

Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan

By the statue of unknown soldier in the main street of a small country town is a huge Moreton Bay fig tree planted as a memorial after the First World War. As the town grows it eventually becomes a traffic hazard and needs to be removed. Although gone, the community’s memories of those who served in each war remain.

  • Read the story and discuss how the importance of memories is communicated through the story. Encourage students to share their memories of family, home and important events.

  • Explore how the story is told through the illustrations, for example, the ominous sequence where the reader realises the tree has been cut down.

  • Discuss the use of symbols in this book, such as seeds and birds. What does each of these convey?

  • Explore the ethical issues that were encountered in the destruction of a memorial to the fallen soldiers. Why did the author present this issue?

  • Explore the techniques used by the author to represent Australians in the text. How was a country town depicted in the story?

  • Compose a poem that addresses the commemoration of the fallen soldiers.

  • Compose a letter from the perspective of a member of the community addressing the need to preserve the memorial.

Other Texts

My Mother’s Eyes by Mark Wilson

A Day to Remember by Jackie French

Meet the Anzacs by Claire Saxby

Learning concepts

These additional questions can be used for discussion or further investigations.


Discuss the challenge that the community faced in their determination to save the memorial to the fallen soldiers. How was this represented in the text?


How are memories and changes represented in the text?

What changes have occurred since the First World War? What are the different ways that people have commemorated the soldiers?

How have people’s attitudes toward war changed over time? How do authors depict these changes?


Why does the young boy care so much about saving the tree? Why are memorials important to communities?


How have people in the community used the memorial tree over time? How is this represented in the text?


What does a statue of an unknown soldier represent?

Why are trees and shrubs planted as memorials?

Syllabus links

EN2-10C thinks imaginatively, creatively and interpretively about information, ideas and texts when responding to and composing texts

Engage personally with texts

  • respond to texts by identifying and discussing aspects of texts that relate to their own experience

EN2-11D responds to and composes a range of texts that express viewpoints of the world similar to and different from their own

Understand and apply knowledge of language forms and features

  • make connections between students' own experiences and those of characters and events represented in texts

Develop and apply contextual knowledge

  • recognise the ways that stories depict Australians who are significant at a local and community level

Respond to and compose texts

  • describe and discuss ethical issues encountered in texts