In November of last year, I was privileged to be asked to help Year 5 students at Kingsway Junior School begin a piece of project work on the First World War. I spent half a day with them on 10 November, just before Armistice Day, and then they continued to work on the project with their teachers for the remainder of the term.
On 10 November, we began the morning with a whole-school assembly, in which we spent 15 minutes or so talking about the poppy, and how it came to be a symbol of remembrance. Then I spent the rest of the morning working with the Year 5 students in two groups, talking about the history of the war, and about remembrance, in more detail. We explored what they thought about the idea of remembrance, and who they wanted to remember the following day in the two-minute silence. We discussed the different backgrounds and nationalities of people who fought between 1914 and 1918, and a little bit about the conditions in which they fought.
The children then looked at a selection of images from the Remembrance Image Project showing WW1 sites as they look today. In small groups they talked about what the pictures showed, and decided which one they would choose as an image of remembrance.
At the close of the session, we introduced the idea of a WW1 poster, which they were going to develop with their teachers during the rest of the term. In the following weeks they studied subjects as diverse as trench life; war poetry; letters to and from the Front; war art; injuries, diseases and medical care; and songs of wartime.
Just before Christmas they sent me the fantastic posters which they had been working on over the weeks since I had last seen them [see below]. It’s inspiring to see just how creative and enthusiastic these nine- and ten-year-old students were, and the number of different aspects of WW1 life which they had engaged with in just half a term. I am most grateful to Kingsway School and all the staff for making me so welcome, and for allowing me to be a small part of their project work.
Mrs Robinson, one of the Year 5 teachers, said, “Simon was an inspiration to our children! He captured their imaginations at the beginning of the term, filling them with enthusiasm to investigate World War One and the idea of remembrance. I would highly recommend working with him.”
If you are a school teacher and would be interested in working with the Remembrance Image Project on some work with your students – of any age – then please just get in contact with the project.