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History Heroes’ World War 1 game in school

6th November 2014

History Heroes took its World War 1 game to a lovely primary school in Basingstoke this week and had great fun, running three History Heroes’ World War I school workshops there. The 67 children were fantastic: they ranged from year 3 to year 6 and all were receptive and engaged. Every single child contributed something to the experience.

World War 1

World War 1

At the beginning the children were a little ropey on the key characters of World War I – unsurprisingly. WWI was 100 years ago, after all, which is a long time ago when you’re 9, 10 or even a venerable 11 years old. Asked if they knew who the British & Commonwealth King had been in 1914, a couple of brave individuals hazarded a guess: Hitler? Hmm, not quite. Churchill was the next guess, at least a little closer!

Within minutes, however, they had all got stuck into their various History Heroes activities, which included small groups presenting a World War I History Hero of their choice to the rest of the class. They first acted out a short play that they devised, based on the facts on the relevant History Hero’s card and then, if the other children couldn’t guess who  the WWI Hero was, the performers took it in turns to read out the facts on the Hero’s cards. It was thrilling to see groups of 8 – 11 year olds, creating plays about Gavrilo Princip shooting Archduke Franz Ferdinand; the sinking of RMS Lusitania and brave Billy McFadzean. It’s a great way to learn.

There were aspects of World War 1 that the children found too alien to comprehend. A multi-racial class, for example, struggled to take on board that Walter Tull was the first black combat officer in the British Army despite the fact that World War I military regulations FORBADE ‘any negro or person of colour’ being an officer. The children were completely nonplussed, too, by the description of the Munitionettes as ‘Canary Girls’ due to their TNT-induced yellow skin: none of the children had ever seen or had a clue what a canary was!

All in all, it was a great day. The children enjoyed and learnt. So did we! We look forward to going out and running some more workshops soon.