Interviews and research
Help students discover primary source evidence about life on the Home Front through interviews and research.
- To teach pupils basic interviewing skills in order to learn about life on the Home Front during World War Two.
- To enable children to connect with 'living history' through contact with people who lived through the war.
- To utilise ICT for research.
Teaching activities and ideas
- Explain what an interview is and practise simple question and answer technique in class. The printable interview factsheet and tips (PDF 1.2 MB) resource can be handed out to the class as a guide. Suggest pupils practise different types of questions in pairs, indentifying fact and opinion.
- Explain to children about 'oral history' - what people remember, the stories they tell.
- Explain that interview research is part of historical inquiry. Personal recollection based on experience is primary source history. If a story is recounted at second or third-hand it may have less credibility, but is still useful as secondary source evidence.
- Using the WW2 People's War website, ask the students carry out research about life on the Home Front. A list of suitable stories has been aggregated on the resources page to save time. Encourage students to identify key themes such as food and rationing, air raids, evacuation from their research which can be discussed then explored on the Primary History WW2 website.
- Enable students to connect with 'living history' through family members or the local community and conduct their own interviews. You might arrange an in-school event for elderly family members or friends. Students can identify questions and topics for discussion through their previous research, or alternatively, use the sample interview questions (PDF 407 KB) provided. With permission, interviews can be uploaded to the BBC Memoryshare website.
- Extend the research beyond the UK by pointing out that Britain in the 1940s was the 'home country' and centre of the British Empire. Many people from the Empire/ Commonwealth experienced a different type of Home Front. Useful stories have been identified on the resources page. Ask the students to find out how the Home Front in other countries differed to the Home Front in the UK.
- Using the information gathered from research and/or interviews, encourage the students to act out role plays as evacuees or children from other parts of the Empire/ Commonwealth. The children can develop their character by using the Children of the world printable resources and adding 'thought-tracks' to their character. Or alternatively, print out the children templates to use as visual aids in the lesson.
- Using a family tree or timeline (try the Primary History interactive timeline - accessed via the Primary History homepage), explain how World War Two fits into a wider historical perspective, and encourage students to understand about generations, ancestry/family trees, and how long ago things happened.
- You can extend the inquiry beyond World War Two by explaining that people born in the 1940/50s will have memories of post-war Britain and the after effects of the war such as rationing (which did not end until the 1950s), bombsites, old air raid shelters etc. People of the post-war generation may recall stories their parents told them about the war (secondary source evidence). Post-war audio and video clips can be found on the Class Clips website.