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15 October 2014
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About This Site > Learning Zone > Schools: Coming Home

Activities for Schools: Coming Home

The resources on this page can be used by teachers and community educators in classrooms and learning centres. Lesson Plans are based on extracts from stories which were submitted to the WW2 People's War site. They are suitable for both primary and secondary students and have curriculum links to History, English, RE, Citizenship and Media Studies.

  • Lessons meet the skill and content requirements for the UK curriculum in history, English and citizenship (England and Wales).
  • It may be possible to use some exercises to support RE classes at Key Stages 2, 3 and 4.
  • The lessons could be adapted to use as part of centre-designed history coursework for Key Stage 4.
  • Some topics will naturally fit into one lesson and others may run over a number of weeks.

This lesson plan includes:

  • Lesson 1: Returning from evacuation abroad (Key Stages 2, 3 and 4)
  • Lesson 2: Lost parents (Key Stages 2, 3 and 4)
  • Lesson 3: Rebuilding lives (Key Stages 2, 3 and 4)

How to use these lesson plans

  • Use as a structured scheme of work on the British Home Front, 1939-45.
  • Use as generic lesson plans for the teacher, rather than material to be given direct to the pupils.
  • Alter the plans and cut and paste questions in order to make resource sheets according to the ability and age of the pupils.
  • The plans are for mixed ability groups, although the teacher may want to split groups and tasks according to ability.
  • Note: These lessons raise citizenship and personal development issues that may be difficult for some pupils to cope with, so it is important to know your class well and to consult form tutors and/or SEN lists to ascertain if any members of the class have been separated from their parents for a long period of time, or face adoption issues or bereavement. Ensure you are aware of where to refer pupils who may have any difficulty in dealing with any of these issues, and warn the class at the beginning of the lesson so that they know what to do if they have problems dealing with the issues covered.

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 to compare against historical events. It is important for children to view the world in which they live as a continuation of society in the 1940s, not as completely detached from it.

The list of resources at the beginning of each lesson includes a reference to stories from the BBC's WW2 People's War site, extracts from which are on the accompanying Story Extracts file. You may find it useful to print out the full stories. There is also a guideline of preparation materials that are generally found in schools or can be provided by the teacher.

Lesson 1: Returning from evacuation abroad

Key Stages - 2, 3 and 4

Objectives - To understand how those children returning felt isolated and how shocked they were by the changes in Britain.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories can be found on the Story Extracts page.

  • York and Canada: Memories of an Evacuee
  • A Surrey Boy's War: Evacuation to South Africa
  • The Atlantic Divide: Evacuated to America

Other resources needed for the class

  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the Story Extracts page
  • Photocopies of Pupil Task Sheets

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

Split the class into pairs. Ask each pair to write a list of all the things that they miss about Britain/home when they go on holiday. Then ask them to write a list of all the things they like about going on holiday. Then ask the pairs to discuss if that list would change if they stayed away more than two months.

Activity 1

Recap on the places that evacuees were sent abroad to escape the war, for example America, Canada, South Africa. Ask pupils to raise their hand if they thought that the evacuees would have been pleased to return home in 1945 at the end of war. Then ask a selection of individual pupils to justify why they have raised their hand, and if some have not raised their hand ask them why not.

Activity 2

Spilt the class into pairs. Ask them to read extracts from York and Canada: Memories of an Evacuee and A Surrey Boy's War: Evacuation to South Africa and then answer the questions below. You can find these stories on the the accompanying Story Extracts page.

Feed back and discuss as a class. Ask the class if they are surprised that the evacuees did not want to come back.

Activity 3

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask half of the class to produce a guide for evacuees returning to the UK. This should include details of the problems their parents suffered, information about bombing and rationing, and how to help their parents cope with the fact that they have grown up and changed in six years. The other half of the class should prepare a guide for parents of evacuees returning. This should include details of activities they took part in, how they might feel about being left abroad for five or six years, how their children will have changed in this period of time, and why the children may be nervous about coming home and feel disorientated.

Activity 4

Split the class in half and then divide into groups of three or four pupils. Half the pairs are to be the parents of one author and the other half the parents of the other author.

Activity 5

Split the class into pairs. Ask them to read The Atlantic Divide: Evacuated to America and complete the task below. You can find this on the accompanying Story Extracts file.

Discuss the responses of the pairs as a class.

Plenary

Ask individual pupils to finish one of the sentences below.

  • It was hard for evacuees returning to Britain because...
  • It was hard for the parents of evacuees returning to Britain because...

Lesson 2: Lost Parents

Key Stages - 2, 3 and 4

Objectives - To understand the impact that World War Two had upon the generation born during the war.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories can be found found on the Story Extracts page.
  • What Happened when Daddy Came Home
  • What is a Daddy?
  • A Holocaust Survivor's Search for the Truth
  • I've got a Million Things to Tell You
  • An Airman's Son - Part 1

Other resources needed for the class

  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the accompanying Story Extracts file
  • Photocopies of Pupil Task Sheets

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

Split the class into pairs and ask them to write a job description for the role of 'a daddy'. Discuss how children find out what a daddy is expected to do if they do not see men fulfilling this role.

Activity 1

Split the class into pairs. Read the extract from What is a Daddy? You can find this on the Story Extracts page. Ask the pairs to discuss how the child found out about her father and what she thought about him. They could discuss the ideas such as the picture and how the father does not seem real.

Activity 2

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask them to write a list of feelings a child like the author in the last extract might feel when her father returned.

Activity 3

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask them to read the extract for What Happened when Daddy Came Home and complete the pupil task sheet below. You can find the etract on the Story Extracts page.

Activity 4

Explain that many fathers did not return and many families did not speak about their lost loved ones, and that this had an impact on a whole generation of children who grew up wondering about their fathers/parents.

Split the class into groups of four. Read the extract for A Holocaust Survivor's Search for the Truth, I've got a Million Things to Tell You and An Airman's Son - Part 1, and ask pupils to complete the task below. You can find these extracts on the Story Extracts page.

Pass the guides around for each group to read in order to decide what points they think were most helpful.

Plenary

Split the class into pairs and ask them to write a list of ways that the war influenced children born during it throughout their lives.

Lesson 3: Rebuilding Lives

Key Stages - 2, 3 and 4

Objectives - To begin to understand how people felt about rebuilding their lives after World War Two.

Extracts from the following WW2 People's War stories can be found on the Story Extracts page.

  • 'The Will to Live': Chapter 40 - Even Freedom Has its Troubles
  • The Sound of a Lancaster Engine
  • Remember to Never Forget - the Birth of a Monument
  • Cassino War Cemetery
  • Return to Normandy (Part 1)

Other resources needed for the class

  • V flags for bunting
  • Print out and, if possible, enlarge copies of the photographs
  • Photocopies of the relevant extracts from the Story Extracts page

Teaching and Learning Activities

Starter Activity

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Ask the groups to make a list of the ways World War Two influences today's society. Think about novels, films and images. Ask each group to feed back their ideas and discuss as a class. Discuss whether the portrayal of World War Two is a negative or positive force in today's society.

Activity 1

Split the class into eight groups. Give each group a photograph. Ask pupils to state what they can learn about the life of that soldier. They should think about how the experience shown in the photograph might influence their beliefs and dreams about how they wanted to live their lives after the war was over. Pupils could suggest points such as a desire to travel with their families, an interest in the history of the places they visited, a higher standard of living so that they could afford holidays, an understanding and tolerance of different cultures and religions.

Each group feeds back their ideas to the rest of the class. Ask individual pupils to make a list of the soldiers' dreams for the future.

Activity 2

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Each group should imagine that they are a family who has lived through World War Two and should prepare a charter for living and working conditions in England for the future.

Feed back and discuss as a class. Think about the improvements in living standards over the last 60 years. Explain about how institutions such as the NHS and the welfare system were created in 1945 as a result of the Labour Party's election victory.

Activity 3

Divide the class into pairs. Ask them to read 'The Will to Live': Chapter 40 - Even Freedom Has its Troubles' extract and to complete the task below.

Feed back and discuss.

Activity 4

Split the class into groups of four pupils. Each pupil in the group should complete the task below after reading one of the extracts: 'The Will to Live': Chapter 40 - Even Freedom Has its Troubles, The Sound of a Lancaster Engine, Remember to Never Forget - the Birth of a Monument, Cassino War Cemetery and Return to Normandy (Part 1). You can find these extracts on the Story Extracts page.

"The generation who lived through World War Two and those born in the aftermath can never forget it. It is only made bearable by the improved living conditions subsequent generations have experienced."

The groups then present their radio shows.

Plenary

Ask each pupil to create a 'Victory Thanks Flag' to thank the people of 60 years ago for one thing that they did during the war.

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