Weston Park, near Telford, provided a fascinating experience for our Year 5 classes, who were keen to learn more about life during World War II.
On arrival every child was issued with a gas mask box and instructed to carry it with them at all times that day. The morning started with watching a presentation about evacuees – who they were, why they left the cities, where they went – which led to discussion about how the evacuees must have felt leaving their families. Everyone joined in singing a couple of songs from the 1940s before being interrupted by an air raid. The children heard the aircraft flying overhead and bombs being dropped around them. Everyone was reminded that the longest air raid latest 13 hours … and found the experience of a simulated 4 minute raid, more than long enough!
Following this, everyone was taken to a genuine Anderson shelter in the walled garden of Weston Park and the children got to squeeze inside in groups of 6. It was very hard to imagine being stuck in there for long periods.
A session on rationing came next. The children found out why food was rationed, which foods were and were encouraged to think about how little they and their families would have been allowed to consume. The sandwich lunch which followed was literally ‘food for thought’!
The children loved dressing up in period costumes – the boys in military jackets and hats and the girls in beautiful dresses. They sat in a 1940s sitting room with blackouts and taped windows, had a good look over household artefacts from that time and took turns to squeeze into a Morrison shelter.
The final activity of the day was to make their own Anderson shelter out of corrugated card. It was a lovely way to finish a fascinating day which consolidated the children’s prior learning and gave them more information to work with on return to school.
Parents are very welcome to visit the Year 5 classrooms to see what the children have been doing, to see the artefacts they have brought in from home and the information they have presented on family members who lived during World War II.