Year 6 learn about World War 2 as part of their topic.
On Thursday, 10th November, Year 6 enjoyed a WW2 workshop in the classrooms and the community room at Atwood Primary School. The teachers had timed this as close to Remembrance Day as possible, and the workshop proved to be a relevant and enjoyable experience for all Year 6 children.
To start the day, children came in dressed in superb costumes to suit our theme: evacuees, soldiers, pilots and folk in 1930s/40s dress. The workshop started off with children introduced to Gayle, our visiting WWII expert. Gayle used a map of Europe to explain how WW2 started, which couldn’t be done without exploring how Europe had been left after WW1, and the conditions and sentiments in Germany in the 1930’s. We learnt how a disgruntled soldier from WW1 – Adolf Hitler – had risen in popularity at this time in Germany by exploiting public discontent and the conditions imposed upon the country by the Treaty of Versailles. Year 6 proved exceptionally adept at identifying world flags in this activity – maybe international football helped with this quite a lot!
Gayle then led the children through the conditions of WW2 in the UK, and how people left minding the home front would have to take on many jobs that men going off to war had done. We also learnt about the home guard, and how people used ingenious ideas to fight potential enemies, for example putting dinner plates on the ground in fields so that enemy tanks would think they were mines.
After exploring the war at home, Gayle led us through what war was like on the front lines of WW2. She had brought with her the various uniforms soldiers had worn in different divisions, and these were real artefacts from WW2 that some children got to try on. Then came some historical artefacts that both classes seemed surprised and shocked to see in real life: our expert historian produced a real magazine of WW2 bullets, and a decommissioned bolt-action rifle. Gayle explained that the word rifle refers to the barrel of the gun being rifled in a circular pattern. This would make the bullet turn in the barrel and fire more accurately. The session ended with Year 6 being allowed to fire the rifle (obviously with no bullet inside!), and finally learning to salute in the army/RAF way and then the slightly different Naval style (palms faced down, after an unhappy Queen Victoria had not been pleased to see Navy hands covered in blisters and grime on one of her inspections!).
Children loved the other activities of the day, including Bletchley Park codebreaking, learning how to march, stretcher races and bomb disposal skills. I am sure this is a workshop that all the children will remember for a long time, and the day was a perfect part of our WW2 topic for history that we are studying in the Autumn term.
Many thanks to Gayle at Portals to the Past for another wonderful workshop, and well done to Year 6 children for listening and having a go at all the activities on offer.
Prepared by Mr Simons and the Year 6 children.