Before World War One began, men were thought of as the 'breadwinners', bringing in the weekly wage. The jobs they did were often tiring and required a lot of strength. Life for women changed dramatically during the war because so many men were away fighting. Many women took paid jobs outside the home for the first time. By 1918 there were five million women working in Britain. The money they earned contributed to the family's budget and earning money made working women more independent. Many enjoyed the companionship of working in a factory, office or shop rather than doing 'piece work' at home. The Army needed thousands of guns and millions of bullets and shells. Thousands of women answered the call to work in munitions factories making bombs and missiles. Many women were ready to do the work, not only to help the war effort but also because it was better paid than most women's jobs. By 1918, women were making almost all of Britain's munitions. By the end of World War One around 20,000 Women’s Land Army volunteers had filled the gaps left by men, alongside some 250,000 other women working as labourers on the land. Find out what life for many was like when Vicky Johnson has a cup of tea and a chat with her neighbour, Albert, who reads her a postcard sent from his wife in the country.
Children could make a list of jobs women took on during World War One and go on to draw comic strips showing a woman's day in the war years. In those days, any productive space was put to work growing food. Pupils could try preparing a vegetable plot, if your school has space, to raise a crop of their own. If space is an issue, you could try growing some vegetables in containers. Children could link this work to their study of green plants in science. They could record how the vegetables grow and note the conditions in which they grow best. The class could then harvest their vegetables, cook them and enjoy them. You could ask pupils to research from books and websites where the main industries were located in Britain during World War One. They could add sketches around the map to illustrate the roles women played in keeping these industries going in wartime. Each sketch could be linked by a thread to a location on the map. Children could study examples of wartime posters that encouraged women to take on work outside the home. They could produce their own versions of these posters or design their own to encourage the mothers and sisters of World War One Britain to go out to work.