A day out to se the poppies installation at The Tower of London was our incentive to launch into a week or two of learning about WW1. We visited The Tower on the 10th and so, still a little jet lagged and starting our days pretty late we spent a chilled out Tuesday morning following Remembrance services on the TV and holding our own 2 minute silence. We watch every year and I’m always struck by how C is touched by the coverage. Once again taking full opportunity of the freedom that HE gives us we took our neighbours’ dogs for a walk up to a local war memorial and followed this with a visit to the library to see what books we could find about WW1. There isn’t a lot that is suitable for KS1 but we found a few and have managed a fair bit of reading independently with some chapters needing extra support. It always amazes me that, when engaged and motivated to do so, children will attempt to read far more challenging texts than we would generally expect.
C has also been desperate to start learning about the Victorians so we have begun some research about the timing of WW1 and once he’s finished learning about the horrors of the frontline and conditions in the trenches we will move on to look more at the lifestyle at home. Leading smoothly back in time into the Victorian era in time for the Dickens Festival and a planned HE group visit to ‘A Victorian Christmas’ at Kent Life. Perfect. Again, I am as excited about his (our) learning as he is!
So, going back to WW1, we started at the very beginning, by looking at the countries who made ‘promises’ to each other before the outbreak of war. C really wasn’t in the mood for writing and so we decided to create a large map together, introducing the concept of a key to show which countries were ‘together’, who was neutral etc. I haven’t drawn a map since secondary school; it was such a relaxing activity to do together and he was very proud of his results, and more than a little shocked at how the war started!
We’ve squeezed in a bit of drama (no surprise there!) with me taking on the role of the soldier reporting to duty and my ‘captain’ giving me advice on what to expect in the trenches and how to keep myself safe. What a great way of exploring how much he had understood from his own reading!
We’ve been to visit to the RE museum where he really put the weeks learning into context, referring back to propaganda posters, “oh, I saw that one in my book”, and deepening his understanding of trenches by experiencing the trench experience. It was ‘in the trenches’ that he again demonstrated how much he taken in from his reading as he explained to me about the firing step and pretended he was taking care not to poke his head up in the same place! Both boys had a great time, trying on the uniforms, sending morse code messages and constructing a strong defence for a castle wall.
Here’s how we got in a bit of structured literacy teaching too. The challenge was to get the sentence from the dining table to the door. It meant he had to think about word groups, spellings and war terminology.