History KS1 / KS2: T is for Trenches

Newsreel and schoolchildren’s commentary describe the conditions of British trenches on the Western Front in World War One.

A dramatic monologue introduces Private Billy Short, aged 18. He’s in a trench on the front line, writing a letter home to his mother.

His cheery account in the letter contrasts with the harsh conditions he faces in reality.

Billy tells us of his everyday duties, such as filling sandbags, cleaning rifles, sentry duty, mending duckboards and pumping water.

He looks forward to the next day, when he’s due to go back down the line for some rest and maybe a bath.

This clip is from the series WW1 A to Z.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 1

Ask pupils to close their eyes and imagine the sounds they might have heard in a trench on the Western Front.

The children could use instruments, found objects and their own voices to make trench sound effects.

The children could go on to record a trench soundscape, with the sounds of daily life, such as hammering as duckboards are mended, or sloshing as water is pumped out.

Key Stage 2

Challenge pupils to use information from they have seen and heard to help them make a scale model of a trench.

Pupils could use modelling clay, cardboard, twigs and pieces of thin wire to make their designs.

They could label the various elements of the trench, using books and websites to give them more context.

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

S is for Shrapnel
U is for Unsung Heroes
V is for Victory