Your chance to explore local history using the website as an example of good oral history practice. This project will work best if the children have covered the background of this period.
To give children the chance to become Time Detectives by:
You may want to run over some of the work you have done on the Second World War already to remind children, before moving on to Step 1, which introduces the idea of people who volunteered during the Second World War.
Before you start, make sure the children have a copy of project sheet 1, which explains what they need to do.
Read out some of the stories with your class, looking at the experiences of these people during the Second World War.
Discuss how and why people volunteered to help other people, often their neighbours, who might have been affected by the war, for example by bombing. The following stories are particularly relevant:
These stories are all good examples of people, many of whom were children during the war, who volunteered to help others. They are also ideal for talking about how the war was a difficult time for many people, especially children.
Using project sheet 2, get the children to pick one of the stories on the site and fill in a log sheet about them, creating their ’story’ with words and pictures. Images, film clips and fact sheets in the story chosen, or in the resource library, will all be useful.
Children do not have to answer all the questions and could add others if they wish.
The children should be encouraged to find someone who was a child during the war. Using another copy of project sheet 2 they will ask them the questions to discover what it was like to be a child during the war in their area.
There may be someone in the child’s family who would be suitable, or perhaps they can find someone through a local community group.
Perhaps children could ’share’ an interviewee. Another option would be to interview someone coming into the school for a Veterans Day (see below). Children could record their interviews and take photographs of their interviewee.
If children cannot find someone to interview, they could repeat Step 1 with another story on the site. You may even find a story from your local area, or somewhere nearby. Another option would be to get some children to research a story and take on the character of that person, responding to questions from other children. They could even imagine they are on TV or radio being interviewed. The Youth and Cadets section would be ideal.
The next step is for the children to create a piece of written work using the interviews. You may have already have done some work on your local area during the war.
You could also look at what sort of jobs or roles people from the children’s area and background may have volunteered for (the site will give you some ideas).
The list of contributors to the site will help you select some relevant interviews to show to your children before they start their own detective work.
The children could write a story based on their interviewee’s experiences, or a letter from the interviewee to an imagined family member. The focus should be on how the war affected the lives of these people when they were children.
You could hold a Veterans’ Day at school, inviting veterans along to an assembly or lesson. You could prepare for this by making a group wall display with the children’s work, adding images and stories from the resource library. Ways of contacting veterans are suggested below.
Another extension activity could be to make links with wars today, looking at how many children are still trapped within them, and what ordinary people can do to help. The British Red Cross website has some useful resources.