World War 2 KS2 to KS4 – D-Day and VE Day teaching resources
Victory in Europe Day and D-Day are ideal opportunities to understand this terrible time in history, and reflect on the sacrifices made in World War 2…
- by Teachwire
Browse our pick of the best World War 2 KS2, KS3 and KS4 resources to use in your classroom...
World War 2 will never cease to be relevant. Sadly, with everything that’s been going on in the world in recent years it’s scarily easy to draw parallels between then and now.
But, of course, that’s no reason to shy away from it. If anything, it means the opposite. It’s an important topic, but it’s just as important to deliver lessons sensitively and age-appropriately to your class.
Victory in Europe Day and D-Day are great opportunities to not only understand the past (and, in turn, the present) but to see the hope and goodness that can eventually emerge from such dark times.
What is D Day?
D-Day was the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the Allies landed more than 150,000 troops on Normandy beaches.
This marked the start of a long campaign in north-west Europe which ultimately convinced Germans that defeat was inevitable.
When was D Day?
D-Day took place on 6th June 1944.
What is VE Day?
VE (Victory in Europe) Day was the day that Germany surrendered in World War 2. People marked the news with street parties, singing and dancing.
The war against Japan carried on until August 1945.
When was VE Day?
VE Day took place on 8th May 1945.
D-Day in fiction
D-Day Dog is a beautifully written and compelling novel. It’s a great World War 2 KS2 resource for pupils aged 9+. It follows the story of Jack, who can’t wait for the school trip to the D-Day landing beaches.
But when Jack’s own dad is called up to action, everything Jack believes about war is thrown into question.
Jack is drawn to the heart-wrenching true story of one particular D-Day paratrooper. On 6 June 1944, Emile Corteil parachuted into France with his dog, Glen. Jack is determined to discover their fate.
- Cover prediction worksheet
- Blackout poem challenge
- Discussion questions
D-Day Landings in Normandy
The D-Day landings were a key factor in the outcome of the war, splitting the German forces that were mostly in conflict with the Russians in Eastern Europe. For an introductory overview this piece from Imperial War Museums is a great place to start.
You can also rely on the British Legion for Victory in Europe Day too with this information page.
The BBC’s archived Learning Zone page on the end of the war has loads of ideas and activities too.
And if you still need more, head to the Guardian’s How to Teach…VE Day page for a whole bunch of resource links.
The steps to war
This differentiated card sort exercise lets students identify and connect the steps that led from the armistice to the start of the Second World War.
Bev Forrest explains why it’s essential we educate primary children about the Holocaust and discusses how much young children need to know to create a better foundation of learning for studying the topic further in secondary school.
Also check out the wealth of classroom materials at the Centre for Holocaust Education.
Belsen concentration camp
What did the British find when they entered Belsen concentration camp? Belsen (full name Bergen-Belsen) was set up in 1943. It was never used as a death-camp, but was still a place of unbelievable horrors and brutality.
Towards the end of the war, thousands of Jews had been evacuated from camps in eastern Europe and marched west to avoid the advancing Soviet army. There were 40,000 prisoners at Belsen in April 1945, many dying each day, as well as thousands who had recently died and had not been buried.
The outside world knew of the camps even before the war, but took little notice of reports of what they were like. Thus when Allied soldiers began to advance into Germany at the end of the war and discovered the camps, they were deeply shocked by the conditions. These documents from the National Archives record what the British soldiers found, and how they responded.
Holocaust Memorial Day
Created for Holocaust Memorial Day in January each year, these resources can be used at any time to learn about the atrocities committed in WWII.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank has long been the go-to text for educating young people about what life was like for those living in hiding from the Nazi regime.
Anne Frank Trust UK and Amnesty International produced a set of resources to go with this famous account, called Writing in Impossible Circumstances.
If you want to take things further, this webpage from Imperial War Museums, called ‘The Way We Lived: Exploring Jewish Life and Culture’, has a number of helpful videos.
This set of WWII posters from the Imperial War Museum come with a PowerPoint presentation full of discussion points and suggested activities.
They’re perfect for a lesson on persuasive language and imagery, as well as being a great insight into what it was like in Britain during wartime.
London in the Blitz
This KS3 resource features a varied collection of activities to accommodate different learning styles, centred around the experience of the Blitz, how London was affected and how historians have interpreted it.
We’ve picked out and reviewed some of the best WW2 books to use in your classroom, including stories focusing on diverse characters. There’s plenty of great World War 2 KS2 resources to choose from on the list.
Browse our pick of Remembrance Day activities.