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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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About This Site > Learning Zone > Families: End of the War

Activities for Families: End of War

In learning about the past it is always best to start in an environment that is familiar. All children have some understanding of the world of today, which they can use as a point of reference in comparison with historical events. When learning about World War Two, it is important for the children of today's multi-cultural society to view their world as a continuation of society in the 1940s, not as completely detached from it.

The activities below will help them to imagine the celebrations that took place at the end of the war. These activities should supplement formal education by giving a sense of what life was like in the 1940s, rather than a detailed factual knowledge of it. They are meant to be engaging - both for children and for the adults helping them - but not to appear to be part of a structured curriculum. You can do one or all of the activities, depending upon the time available.

Thoughts on VE Day

Activity 1

Make print-outs, and read the following extracts with your child.

  • Victory Celebrations and Epilogue
  • VE Day Celebrations and Reunions
  • VE Day - Trowbridge Celebrates

These extracts appear on the Story extracts page.

Give your child a copy of one of the pictures of VE Day celebrations on the Story extracts page.

Suggest to your child that you could adopt a character in the picture, perhaps in pairs. Develop your character by deciding on your name, age, experience of war, parents' role in the war, and what you feel about the end of the war. You can then ask each other questions about how you feel about the celebrations and the end of the war.

Make print-outs and read the following extracts with your child.

  • VE Day and Belsen
  • VE Day Germany
  • VE Day As Seen from a Field near Venice

These extracts appear on the Story extracts page.

As you read get your child to highlight in red the words and phrases that indicate happiness, highlight in blue the words and phrases that indicate relief, highlight in green the words and phrases that indicate sadness.

Afterwards make a list of all the events that took place to celebrate VE Day abroad, and describe how they were different from the celebrations in Britain.

Coming home

Activity 2

Read the following extracts.

  • VJ Day Remembered
  • VJ Day factfile

These extracts appear on the Story extracts page.

Describe why soldiers could not just come straight home once the war was over. Reasons might include the necessity of helping to rebuild Europe, of guarding prisoners of war, of ensuring that food was distributed, of ensuring that democracy was restored, of ensuring that local people did not take revenge on alleged collaborators.

Ask your child to imagine they are a father in the British army in Europe on VE Day. They should write a postcard to their family explaining why they are not coming home immediately, and why they have to stay abroad for a little while longer.

Together re-read the first extract, and then write a list of the differences between VJ Day and VE Day.

Together re-ead the second extract. Discuss whether VJ Day is more important than VE Day, and why the men who fought in the east should not become the 'forgotten army'.

You could discuss organising a celebration to commemorate the end of World War Two, and how you could go about organising it.

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