Christmas Gifts for WW1 Troops

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum links:

KS3 Art and Design - Artefacts
KS2-3 History - WW1
KS4 History - Britain 1905-1986; Britain at War

Aims of resource:  

To encourage students to think about the roles children played in WW1 and the importance of morale among troops.


Learning objectives:

Knowledge of the Overseas Club and children’s involvement in fundraising
Understanding of why children were targeted as fundraisers and the effect on soldiers’ morale
Skills to consider the importance of morale in wartime and the role of charity work

Discussion ideas:

  • Why were children, rather than adults, asked to fundraise for the Overseas Club?
  • Why do you think children would have wanted to raise money for the troops?
  • What effect do you think the Christmas boxes had on soldiers?
  • What would you put in a Christmas box to send to a soldier today?
  • Why were the boxes important for the war effort?

Activity ideas:

  • Research WW1 propaganda posters in which children are pictured, or which seem to be aimed at children. Think about the messages behind these posters and the techniques used to get the message across. Why might children have been targeted or used in WW1 posters?

    Children could then design their own posters. These could either be for the First World War, asking people to donate small gifts to soldiers or for a contemporary issue.

  • Analysing evidence: Look at the Overseas Club certificate Walter Whitely received. List five ways in which the pictures and text persuade children that their fundraising is important, such as the words ‘to help one another’. Also add a judgement on how effective you think each one is.

  • Create a memory box: Use the downloadable activity sheet from the British Postal Museum & Archive to help pupils design their own memory box, resembling those created by soldiers in WW1. Children could create or draw designs of their own memory boxes, which could be kept in their portfolios, to revisit later in the year or when they come to leave the school.

  • Roleplay: In groups, children can take turns to adopt the role of a soldier and then talk about how he would have felt about being in the trenches at Christmas. Think about questions like:
    - How do they feel about being away from their families at Christmas?
    - What might they be missing - any Christmas traditions?
    - What is their Christmas in the trenches like?
    - What would they like to have sent to them from home?

  • Christmas Charity Box event: As a whole school or class campaign, children could create their own charitable boxes, inspired by the Overseas Club. For inspiration, visit the link below to the Samaritans guide to filling a Christmas box for a child overseas.

Teacher's suggestion for using this resource:

'I would use this resource during PSHE or assembly to persuade children to donate to charity at Christmas time, or any other time during the year. 
'Although 'WW1' is not a required study for KS1 or 2 in the New Curriculum, I would recommend this resource to teachers in KS2 studying a particular aspect of history stated in the New National Curriculum as 'a study of an aspect or theme in British history that extends pupils’ chronological knowledge beyond 1066 'such as 'wars/soldiers throughout History'. 
Joanne Karlson, Year 3 and Lower KS2 Phase Leader.

View other relevant My Learning WW1 resources or s croll down for a list of related links on this topic.




 
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