Essex Farm Cemetary – Flanders

 John McCrae’s Grave

Lt Col John McCrae


Purchase Lesson Plan #1

Story Behind John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields Poem

“In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row”

Sergeant-Major Cyril Allinson, the first person to ever read John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields poem remarked, “The poem was an exact description of the scene in front of us both. He used the word blow in that line because the poppies actually were being blown that morning by a gentle east wind.”poppies fields in flanders

When one thinks of Remembrance Day poems and Memorial Day poppy poems it is the words to In Flanders Fields poem by John McCrae that comes to mind.

The In Flanders Fields poem is the world’s most recognized and beloved of all war memorial and Remembrance day poems. It was written on May 3, 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae during WWI, while still at the battlefront during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium.

In Flanders Fields Lesson Plan #1

Review the Story Behind the Creation of the In Flanders Fields Poem


“The torch; be yours to hold it high”

Grade Level - K – 12:

  • Identify the poem’s author and other key individuals that influenced the poem (K – 12)
  • Commit In Flanders Fields poem to memory (K – 12)
  • Describe the events that inspired the author to compose In Flanders Fields poem (Grade 4 – 12)
  • Compare the use of In Flanders Fields poem during WWI and after the war (Grade 4 – 12)
  • Examine the poem’s affect on soldiers, civilians and furthering military efforts (Grade 4 – 12)

TIME: This lesson plan may take 2 – 3 (45 minute) classes or can be edited as required.
OBJECTIVES Students will be able to:

  • Develop a deeper understanding of the inspiration behind the creation of In Flanders Fields poem
  • Evaluate the affect that trench warfare had on McCrae and the other soldiers
  • Gain a sense of what life must have been like for McCrae at the battlefront
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the relationship between the poem and the use of the poppy as a symbol of Remembrance
  • Gain a sense of the significance of Remembrance and the importance of remembering fallen soldiers from all conflicts since WWI

Purchase Lesson Plan #1


Start this lesson by introducing students to the Flanders Fields song, a CD music recording of In Flanders Fields poem, and review the text in Data Sheet #1B. This lesson will introduce the story behind the creation of In Flanders Fields poem, the world’s most recognized war memorial poem. Students will review historical data, people and events that inspired John McCrae to compose the poem. They will also explore the poem’s popularity and compare how post-war use of the poem differed from its use during WWI.


Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the In Flanders Fields poem on May 3, 1915 while still at the battlefront during the Second Battle of Ypres in WWI.

Read the In Flanders Fields poem and share the “Data Sheet #1B” essay information with your students. Explore the events leading up to May 3, 1915. Explain what sort of affect working for “17 days” non-stop and the death of McCrae’s close friend Alexis Helmer must have had on McCrae’s physical and mental well-being.

What do you suspect John McCrae must have been thinking as he wrote the poem? Who is McCrae writing about in the poem? What message is McCrae trying to convey with the poem? Students should explore these and other questions.

Purchase Lesson Plan #1


  • Data Sheet #1A – IN FLANDERS FIELDS Poem
  • Data Sheet #1B – The Story Behind In Flanders Fields Poem
  • IN FLANDERS FIELDS music CD, CD player
  • Black Line Master A - “Complete the Flanders Fields Poem”
  • Black Line Master B - “Poem - Matching Exercise”
  • Black Line Master C - “Adapt Flanders Fields Poem for Singing”

To purchase the Flanders Fields Educational Kit – 6 Lesson Plans for Teachers
visit the Download Lesson Plans page


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Please Email Flanders Fields Music for more information about:

Flanders Fields Song
Flanders Fields Video
Flanders Fields Sheet Music
Flanders Fields Educational Kit – 6 Lesson Plans for Teachers


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