Marking the 100 years of WWI seemed the perfect time to introduce this period to my children. Usually in primary schools (under 11s) the children are introduced to WWII but not WWI. The centenary prompted me to realise it surely makes sense to introduce the Great War first. The centenary also meant that where previously there were very few junior resources about this period, websites and centres have been rolling out resources for all ages.
Some useful resources we have used in our project this Autumn...
- BBC Primary interactive WWI resource
- TESiBoard (TES is free to join and has a great deal of useful resources; the iBoard is only 11.99 per year and offers so much more!)
- BBC Radio "Private Peaceful" by Michael Morpugo read in 13 episodes (one a week has been a real treat!)
- BBC "WWI at Home" series on iplayer covering factory work, women during the war, hospitals, zepplins, and war animals. The eldest enjoyed them all, the youngest students enjoyed the zepplins and war animals episodes but drifted during the rest! There are currently three episodes left on iplayer... "The Safe House", "The Spies Who Loved Folkestone" and "Whose Side Are You On".
- Our own collection of pre-war song books (the section on national anthems includes the German one, and it includes other German songs, all led to a discussion on how we date it this way) and the recent Daily Mail WWI tribute pages (designed with a modern idea of early 20thC style and on fresh untainted paper led to how we can tell this is a "fake".)
- The film War Horse from Michael Morpugo's children's novel.
- BBC's Teenage Tommies about the children who signed up with false ages and went to war.
- And yes, Mr Gove, we also thoroughly enjoyed watching the funny and moving final episode of Blackadder, "Goodbyeee".
Older children might get something from All Quiet on the Western Front, the original movie from 1930. It is worth showing. I would recommend the novel for teens. I read it at age 17 on my journeys to and from work, and I remember finishing the final chapter around 7.30 on a dark winter evening, one of only a handful of people on the train, with tears streaming unashamedly down my cheeks. A beautiful and moving piece of literature.
Local museums, libraries, churches and community centres are great places to look out for free or low-cost information events, exhibitions and social gatherings around this theme right now. We took one of our children's groups to a tribute installation at a local park; a local museum had a sing-along of WWI songs, stories of local soldiers, and an exhibition; our local library has an exhibition on the Great War Poets; a local church had a Remembrance tea and my children's own Younger Church had a session around the poppies.
A useful activity at the beginning of our study was found on the BBC Schools website... the children pick a country involved in the war out of a hat. They looked their country up in the atlas, found the flag of the time online so they could draw it, and then collected together announcing to Daddy, "We are the Triple Entente" and "We are the Triple Alliance". The older ones also learned how to say "I am... *their country*" in their country's language using an online translator to call out too. Practicing this for Daddy really helped it to stick.