An integrated literacy and history unit of work

Primary History article

By Jane Carter, published 7th December 2010

The passing of Harry Patch: An integrated literacy and history unit of work

The passing of Harry Patch - the last World War I veteran - in the summer of 2009 is a fitting starting point for children in Key Stage 2 (7-11 year-olds) to begin to tackle some of the issues of the First World War. Many classes already study the Second World War and children engage quickly with evacuation, bombings, Anderson shelters, rationing and the social history of the time. At times, as a teacher, I often wonder if they ‘enjoy' the topic too much - after all this is war we are talking about!

Studying World War I does not seem to have the same ‘cosy' appeal and tends to be left to students in secondary school to tackle. But for some children this lack of simple chronology leaves them with many unanswered questions and makes attempts to present the evidence for the causes of the Second World War problematic.

With this in mind, and drawing on the unlikely source of a Year 6 SAT s revision session I ran recently based on the Siegfried Sassoon poem Hero, I have outlined some ideas for a unit of work that has strong literacy and history links, using narratives, poetry and drama, newspaper articles, song lyrics and photos.

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