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8 of the Best Free World War I Teaching Resources for Primary School

With the centenary of the end of World War this 11 November, take the opportunity to teach some great lessons about the importance of this event with these free resources, activities and lesson plans...

  • 8 of the Best Free World War I Teaching Resources for Primary School

1 | Women at work lesson plan

The Great War changed the lives of women in this country – by examining local stories, your pupils can begin to understand the bigger picture, in this WWI and social change lesson plan for KS2 history.

Download it here.

2 | Make WWI relevant to children

Remembering those who died in WWI a hundred years ago involves exploring difficult themes such as service, conflict and, ultimately, death.

With primary-age children, this can feel like dark stuff. However, don’t be put off. Commemoration has a place in primary schools and the challenge is to make it accessible.

Here Vicky Hatchett has some ideas on how you can do just that.

Read the full feature here.

3 | The Great War lesson plan

Why was the First World War also known as the Great War? The 11 November 2018 marks 100 years since the end of the First World War.

If you are looking for a new approach to teaching KS2 pupils about the First World War why not try this lesson plan using an article from Science+Nature and one from The Week Junior as a starting point?

Launch an in-depth historical enquiry and explore the events of the Great War, discover how it started, and investigate the amazing inventions and discoveries that happened because of it.

Did you know that without the First World War we wouldn’t have blood banks and mobile X-ray units?

You’ll find this resource here.

4 | The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha book topic

A tortoise waking up might not sound the most thrilling topic starter, but the slumbering reptile in The Amazing Tale of Ali Pasha has an account of WWI that begs to be told, and retold.

Set up a news room, write letters home from the trenches and look at maps of the war to give children a global perspective with this excellent book topic from Clare Pearson.

Click here to download.

5 | The war at home and abroad

This primary resource from National Geographic Kids explores the events of the First World War, both at home and abroad. Discover how the war started and how long it lasted. What made this war different from the conflicts that came before it? What is a trench? When did the war end?

Pupils will learn about the role of women during the war, and what life was like in Britain while soldiers were abroad.

The resource can be used in study group tasks for an overview of World War I. It can be used as a printed handout for each pupil to read themselves, or for display on the interactive whiteboard, as part of a whole-class reading exercise.

Plus, it great things like a First World War comic and resources on war horses.

Explore this great resource here.

6 | War Horse on stage

Talking of war horses, the National Theatre stage production website is packed full of resources for KS2.

There are singing and music lessons; memory box activities; poetry-, diary- and letter-writing exercises; drama tasks and loads more.

Check them all out here.

7 | Children at war

For the WWI centenary The Royal British Legion is bringing the Thank You movement into the classroom, with a set of free downloadable resources made in partnership with the National Literacy Trust.

There are two for Key Stage 2 that aim to raise pupils’ awareness of the golden threads linking their lives today back to the First World War generation, ensuring that Remembrance is understood and available to all, and handed to the next generation.

There’s one on child mill workers and one on female bus conductors.

You’ll find them both here.

8 | ‘They’ by Siegfried Sassoon

A great poem to use for teaching WWI is Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘They’, a piece about the vast chasm between the propaganda offered to the general public and the actual experiences of those sent to fight.

This excellent short video on the BBC website gives a short context to the poem, and has an animated reading to really emphasise all of the poetic devices with which students will be starting to get to grips.

Written in two short stanzas from the perspectives of a bishop and a soldier, its ideal for contrasting the language used in each and looking at voice and perspective.

Here’s the poem in full:

‘They’ by Siegfried Sassoon

The Bishop tells us: ‘When the boys come back
‘They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought
‘In a just cause: they lead the last attack
‘On Anti-Christ; their comrades’ blood has bought
‘New right to breed an honourable race,
‘They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.’

‘We’re none of us the same!’ the boys reply.
‘For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind;
‘Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die;
‘And Bert’s gone syphilitic: you’ll not find
‘A chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change.
‘And the Bishop said: ‘The ways of God are strange!’

And here you’ll find the video and accompanying classroom ideas.

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