Free learning resources from arts, cultural and heritage organisations.

Teacher's Notes

Resource created by Leeds Museums and Galleries:  Discovery Centre.

This resource tells the story of how Monopoly boards help thousands of WW2 prisoners of war escape.

A Global View:

WW2: As the name suggests, the Second World War (1939 - 1945) involved people from across the globe. The Allied Powers on one side included Britain, France, Russia and (from 1941) America, while the Axis Powers on the other included Germany, Italy and Japan. The imperial status and ambitions of some of these countries brought others into the conflict. Australia, Canada and India all fought for Britain, for example, while Japan gained control of large parts of East Asia and Germany made conquests in North Africa and Eastern Europe.

Millions of civilians from around the world found their lives affected in devastating ways: Jews and other minorities across Europe faced brutal persecution from the German Nazi regime, bombs caused the utter destruction of huge numbers of cities, sieges and blockades caused severe food shortages, millions of people became displaced from their home countries and societies were torn apart by the high death toll of people in combat. Around 60 million died world-wide and recovery was a slow and difficult process. Almost nobody alive anywhere during this time could have escaped the effects of war.

Curriculum Links

  • Key Stage 1 & 2 Design Technology
  • Key Stage 1 & 2 Science: Materials
  • Key Stage 1 History: Significant local historical events, people and places
  • Key Stage 2 History:  Theme extending knowledge beyond 1066
  • Key Stage 2 Geography: Locational knowledge, Geographical skills

Activity Ideas

Research, plan, design and make your own board game. You will need to think about:

  • What is the aim of the game?
  • What theme is the game focused on? This will help you to decide on the design.
  • What materials do you need to make your game?
  • How many players is the game for? What player pieces you will need?
  • How players will move around the board? What challenges might they meet?
  • What is your game called?
  • Have a look at the monopoly escape maps produced during WW2. Can you find the destinations on a modern atlas? Make your own escape map for a different country of your choice.
  • Try making escape maps on different materials, e.g. silk, paper, tissue, fabric, card, leaves, plastic. Test each of your maps for durability, water resistance, weight, sound and the smallest size and shape that they can be folded to. Which type of material is best for an escape map? Why?
  • Imagine you are a POW in a German prison camp. You have found a map and some escape tools in a monopoly board sent by a British charity. Write a diary or story of how you escape using the tools you’ve found. You will need to research and think about where the camp is and where you are trying to escape to, who you might meet, what challenges you have on your journey and how you eventually reach safety.
  • Research some of Christopher Clayton Hutton’s other inventions. Design and make an invention with a hidden compartment in it. Who is your invention for? What will it help them to do?
  • Research the main agreements made in the Geneva Conventions for the treatment of prisoners and civilians in wartime.
  • Where else could you hide escape plans? Have a look at these secret shoes. 
  • Watch the Yorkshire Film archive film about the various jobs that the men and women of Leeds did for the Home Front in WW2

Discussion Ideas

  • Research different board games past and present. Which ones do you like to play and why?
  • Why do you think the Nazis allowed POW to receive gifts from family and charities?
  • Why do you think the British Secret Service didn’t ask charities like the Red Cross to send out the monopoly escape kits?
  • What would Christopher Hutton had to have considered when he was designing and making the escape kits, to make sure they weren’t discovered?
  • There were prison camps in England for German prisoners of war. What do you think life was like in the prison camps in Germany and England?
  • Why are the Geneva Conventions still important?