History KS1 / KS2: L is for Lusitania

Newsreel and commentary about the Lusitania, a passenger ship that set out from New York, bound for Liverpool on 1 May 1915.

A German U-Boat submarine sank the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland on 7 May, with the loss of 1,202 lives.

In a dramatic monologue, we meet Lizzie Brownlee, 28, a stewardess on board the ship.

She tells us her survivor’s story.

The sinking of the ship is widely held to have been a decisive factor in drawing the USA into World War One.

This clip is from the series WW1 A to Z.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 1

Pupils could make models of steam ships like the Lusitania, from a variety of materials.

Encourage the children to base their models on images of ships from books and websites.

Ask pupils to list all the jobs they think might have been done on board.

The class could mime some of these jobs, such as stoking the boilers, or keeping a lookout.

Key Stage 2

On a map, pupils could trace the route from New York to Liverpool that the Lusitania took.

How far had she travelled when she was torpedoed? How much further did she have to go?

Encourage pupils to list any questions they have about the sinking.

For instance, why did Germany want to sink a passenger ship?

The children could seek answers to their questions in books and websites.

The sinking is said to have been decisive in drawing the USA into the war. Do your pupils agree with this judgment?

If so, how do they explain the two years that passed before the USA’s declaration of war in 1917?

Curriculum Notes

This clip is relevant for teaching History at primary school ages for Key Stages 1 and 2, or First and Second Level.

More from the series WW1 A to Z

K is for Keep The Home Fires Burning
M is for Medicine
N is for Nurses