First World War Friendship Book

Teachers' notes, activities and linked resources

Curriculum Links:

KS2-3 Arts Award: Identify and experience a range of art forms
KS2 Art: Creating sketch books to record their observations and use them to review and revisit ideas.
KS2 History: Chronological knowledge beyond 1066; Local history study
KS3 History: Challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day; Local history study

Aims of resource:

To provide an interesting perspective on First World War artefacts and to illustrate a more personal way in which soldiers recorded their wartime experiences.

Learning Objectives:

Knowledge of why soldiers felt the need to collect mementoes
Understanding of the significance of Friendship Books and how they were created
Skills to interpret the sentiments behind the drawings and messages

Discussion ideas:

  • Why do you think Joe Smalley made this book? 
  • Why do think soldiers chose to draw more often than write in these books? 
  • Why do you think they drew funny cartoons of or for Joe?
  • Where and when do you think they had the time to draw and write in each other’s books? 
  • If you were a soldier, what would you choose to draw or write in Joe’s book?
  • Does seeing these drawings help you understand what life was like for the soldiers? 

Activity ideas:


History:
  • Research: Students can carry out online research to find out more about Joe Smalley and the 10th Battalion of the York and Lancaster Regiment.  The links at the bottom of this page might help. Questions could include:

    - Where did the 10th Battalion serve and what battles did they fight in?
    - How many Battalions were in the York and Lancaster Regiment during the First World War period?
    - Did Joe Smalley survive the war?
    - Why would Joe have had a page dedicated only to York and Lancaster Regiment signatures?
    - Who are the other men named in Joe’s book?  Can you read their handwriting?
    - What other regiments are named in the book? Which area of were they from? What does their cap badge look like?
Art:
  • Make a friendship book: Students can recreate a friendship book to commemorate a school event, visit, or for another occasion such as an 'End of Year' leaving memento.
    This could be introduced with the following questions:
    - Would you want a signature page dedicated just to your own class?
    - Who would you want to sign your book?
    - What would you draw or write in other people’s books?
    - Do you have any friends or relatives at other schools that you would like to draw or write in your book?

  • Create autograph/scrap books: Students could replicate the minimal resources available to soldiers by assembling small books themselves from only the scrap material available in class, then contribute a drawing using only a pencil.
  • Compare and contrast First World War art:
    Students could research both official and unofficial art from the First World War and compare examples of these with the examples in the Friendship Book, considering:
    - How are they different?
    - Are there any similarities?
    - What do they tell us about war?
    - Which examples do you think are likely to be the most accurate? 

View other relevant WW1 resources on My Learning. Scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic.




 
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