History KS1 / KS2: X is for Xmas Truce

Newsreel and images provide the backdrop for a commentary from schoolchildren.

This tells the story of the unofficial ‘Christmas truce’ that broke out between the opposing armies at Ypres on 24th December, 1914.

The children examine one of the gift boxes issued to British troops by the Princess Mary Gift Fund.

In a dramatic monologue, we meet school teacher Harry Southern, who recalls his experience of the truce.

He remembers meeting German soldiers in no-man's-land, exchanging gifts, singing carols and playing football, before the war resumed on the following day.

This clip is from the series WW1 A to Z.

Teacher Notes

Key Stage 1

Pupils could learn the carol ‘Silent Night’ and also its German version, ‘Stille Nacht’.

They could sing the carol alternating English and German verses.

The children could go on to learn and sing the words to ‘O Tannenbaum’ and its English translation, too.

The children could make Christmas cards illustrating the scene of the Ypres truce, with messages in German and English.

Key Stage 2

Ask pupils to decide what presents they would add to a tin to be issued to soldiers in the trenches.

Which gifts would be the most practical and welcome?

The children could pack small tins with gifts to illustrate their ideas, before using books and websites to establish the contents of the tins issued to the troops in 1914.

What do pupils make of the truce that broke out at Ypres?

The children could suggest and then use online sites to translate useful German phrases for the British Tommies to use during the truce.

How do the children think the officers of the two armies reacted to the truce? Why do pupils think men resumed fighting on the following day?

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

W is for Women
Y is for Your Country Needs You
Z is for Zeppelin