World War 2 Topic

Our World War 2 topic has a narrative which runs through it. The main focus is on the lives of ordinary people during the war and particularly evacuees. The children create an evacuee character for themselves and much of their learning is based around this.
The English work is all linked to the central wartime topic. The children develop their reading, writing, grammar and punctuation skills through this. They learn how to structure and write character descriptions, letter and diaries as their evacuee characters. They also write fictional stories set during the war.  
Reading skills are taught and developed through texts linked to World War 2, both fiction and non fiction.
In Science, the children study the topics 'Light' and 'Electricity'. These are also woven into our topic. Key skills of scientific thinking such as hypothesising, drawing conclusions etc are developed through experiements. The children then apply these in topic-based Science such as making a Morse code tapper with an electrical circuit and exploring 'The Blackout' by finding the most effective fabrics to make World War 2 blackout curtains using their knowledge of transparent, translucent and opaque materials.
Lots of the key skills and attitudes that are central to our curriculum are addressed through challenge and curriculum theme days, such as 'World War 2 Survival Day'.

The premise of the day is that the children of Year 4 are soldiers stranded behind enemy lines during World War 2 and have to survive until they are rescued.

A key aspect of the day, as well as the acquisition of knowledge about life during the war, was the development of some of our key skills, such as resourcefulness, resilience, cooperation, organisational skills, communication and team work.

 

The children were in small groups and each group was given a ‘Survival Kit’ with many of the resources they would need to tackle the challenges of the day.

 

The first challenge was to feed themselves by locating the food that was hidden around the school grounds. The groups used the OS style map and used 6 figure grid references to find the food, which was fresh vegetables.

 

Next they used the food preparation skills they had acquired in ‘Food for Life’ sessions to chop the food and prepare it for cooking. The food, a vegetable soup, was cooked in a large pot over a fire in the woods.

 

 

The next challenge was to find materials and build a shelter which all of the group could fit into. The groups had to decipher the directions to resources like ropes and a parachute by cracking some codes. They used these code wheels. Once they had found all their equipment and materials, and located a suitable location in the school grounds, they worked together to construct the shelters.

 

 

This does a great deal to develop subject specific skills and content, such as map skills in Geography, World War 2 knowledge and understanding in History, shelter building in Outdoor Learning/Forest Schools and food preparation, cooking and healthy eating. But in addition to all of this, crucially it does much to develop key overarching skills and learning behaviours, such as resourcefulness, resilience and independence, self reliance and taking the initiative.