School Workshops and Battle of the Somme Play

The WW1Aintree and Melling Planning Group worked with local historians, Sefton Libraries, Junior Chefs and Real History to devise and provide exciting and informative workshops for children which would have a local focus and would engage children in a practical exploration of what it would have been like during WW1.

All workshops were extremely well received by the 3 participating schools. In all, about 180 pupils were able to benefit from these workshops, thanks to the generosity of the Heritage Lottery Fund.

As well as this, we brought a professional company to the schools to tell the story of The Battle of the Somme.

The Workshops

Real History

Real History

Real History Workshop. By Sophie Farrell, Holy Rosary Primary School

We were all very excited when we first heard that some people in our class would have to dress up in WW1 clothing, this was because we were having our final workshop lead by Real History. I had to dress up as a nurse called Kitty and others dressed as soldiers and factory workers.

As we walked into the hall, we saw a lady wearing a long tight black skirt and a frilly white t shirt; this made her look quite strict and uptight. Her name was Mrs. Ashby and she explained to us that she was in character for the workshop and she really wasn’t that strict or uptight at all, so I think its best not to judge a book by its cover. Mrs. Ashby spoke about the brave men who signed up for the war, some of whom were under age and did not realise the danger that lay ahead. There was one man called Reggie and he was thirty. He was a volunteer and did survive but suffered terribly. Mrs Ashby also said that the men in WW1 wore dog tags so that if they died they could be identified and family members would then be informed of their death. Mrs. Ashby also talked about people who worked at home making ammunition and weapons such as rifles and machine guns. Children from my class (J5) were dressed up as soldiers and nurses, and J6 dressed as civilians working and making weapons and shells. She gave us pictures of real people from that era so we could act out and dress up like them.

We were told that we were going to do some activities that related to the war. Some of us crawled under barbed wire and we also took turns throwing a potato as if it was a grenade. Then we took turns pretending to throw grenades at toy rats. It was fun although I was rubbish at throwing the potato! Even though it was great, it was also quite educational too!

The conclusion to this workshop was to remember all those who gave their lives in order to defend our country and keep us safe and free. We did this by staying silent and still and saying a prayer in remembrance for a minute for all those who had died or suffered in the Great War. We found out that there was a boy called Harry who didn’t want to go to war but he was forced to by conscription. The government decided that all those between 18 and 50 should be able to fight. If they didn’t they could face a long time in prison and be labelled cowards. Harry survived and lived till he was 111 and only spoke of what happened in the war when he was 100!

Crosby Library Workshops

Crosby Library Workshops

Pupils from all participating schools went to Crosby Library in November 2016 to attend Heritage Workshops. The workshops had been planned by Gillian Morgan, from Sefton Library Service, in conjunction with the WW1 Aintree and Melling Planning Team. The purpose of the visits was to give all the children and supporting adults the opportunity to research the story of local soldiers  listed on the War Memorials. This description of the workshop was written by Evie from Holy Rosary Primary School:

During our World War 1 topic we visited many different destinations and took part in many different activities. This time we were visiting Crosby library. As soon as we arrived, we were immediately spoken to by Dave, a local historian. Half of our class was taken to a large room which contained many World War 1 artefacts and a huge screen, the other half went off researching.

Many seats were set out next to the large screen. Quickly, everyone rushed to their seats in anticipation of the video and talk by Dave. Before long, it began. A young sad soldier appeared before our eyes. He began talking about his experience in war alongside an interviewer. He started by talking about his friend, Tom, who passed away before his eyes. He said that nobody should ever experience what he saw that day. Shortly after the video, we were guided over to a long wooden table on which empty postcards were laid. The lady instructed us to write a letter that soldiers may have sent home to their family. I wrote about how much I would have missed my family and that I ‘would be home by Christmas’. Then we strolled over to an artefacts table and examined some objects such as a vase (made out of a bomb shell), gas masks, bullets, a whistle, dog tags, some posters and letters that soldiers would have send home to their family.

Soon after, the other half of the class switched with us. Finally, it was our turn to research more about World War 1. First of all, we headed over to a wooden table full of books from World War 1. We then received a clip board, a question sheet and a pen. We began finding the answers to the questions, the answers were hidden in the book so it was very tricky to find them. But, I did not fail. I gained much more knowledge about World War 1 in this task. Next, we headed over to a desk which three computers were laid upon. A woman appeared before us telling us the code and the username to log in to the system. She then told us to go on a pacific website. I did so. On this page we would learn about special soldiers from the Aintree and Maghull area. We would learn their regiment, their names and where they are buried. I learnt lots in this task too!

After that, we walked over to a microfilm and explored many news articles from the war. Once again, we answered questions on our sheets according to the news. Finally, it was our last task, map work. We located buildings that had been destroyed in war and sketched them onto our sheet. Sadly, after that, it was time to leave and we were gathered up into our class once again and got back into our pairs. Overall I would say it was a very successful trip!

WW1 Cookery Workshops

During the cookery workshops children explored things that affected what people ate in 1914 – 1918, both at the front and at home, in communities dealing with food shortages and rationing. They looked at what ordinary people did to make the most of the ingredients available to them, and every child made their own “War Cake” to take home.

Here is a description of the workshop by Chenise Shepherd from Melling Primary School:

Fun Food Chef WW1

On Thursday, the first of December, the Fun Food Chef came and taught Year Five how to make food from the trenches. The soldiers ate what the chef was teaching us to make. The ingredients we used were: dried fruits, vanilla extract, oil – to make the food not stick to the foil, poppy seeds, coconut flakes, eggs and double cream.

 First, we sat down in the hall, then listened to the Chef. He told us to drink the juice and when our cups were empty we had to balance the cup on our heads. The juice was pure orange and carrot. Every time we answered a question right-which was often – we were given a piece of dried fruit as a prize. They tasted very delicious especially the dried pineapple, which was sweet- everyone loved the pie.

 We made the pies by crunching the banana, chopping the pineapple and apricot, then ripping the mango into pieces..

 He was telling us, about the different types of fruits there were during the war, making it into a little quiz with us. Showing us the fruits, we had to guess what fruit it was. Everyone loved making the food. This was good for people who liked getting their hands sticky! I’d never cooked anything like this in my life. This day was amazing, we all had lots of fun with our partners that we cooked with.

We all thanked the Chef at the end and I’m glad they came in because everyone got a chance to try something new. The last two weeks have been an amazing experience, bringing to life what war was really like.


Memorial Visits

Children from all the schools involved visited their local WW1 memorial and learned about the soldiers whose names are listed there. Local historians Peter Gill and Bill Borland welcomed the opportunity to share their expertise and answer any questions the children had.

This description is of the visit to St Thomas in Melling which was led by Bill Borland:

St Thomas and the Holy Rood

In November, our class (Y5) walked over the fields to St Thomas’ church. We learnt about what the church was like in the WW1 times.

St Thomas’ church is in Melling, so it didn’t take long to get there. When we arrived and sat ourselves down, the local historian, Bill Borland, told us, some amazing real stories that happened around the WW1 times.

They were about families with more than one child that perished  during this terrible time. One of the families he told us about, was buried in the St Thomas grave yard. Their family had a remembrance plaque, made from stone, put in the church. Also, he told us about the youngest soldier, who was 13 and 10 months.

If that wasn’t fascinating enough, we went upstairs and we could see the whole of the church! As well as that, Bill let us look at the huge church bell that used to call people in. The bell used to be a very important part of the church before we had clocks as it would ring the hours. When we went though, the bell was broken (good job they don’t need it anymore!) Bill also told us that the church’s brass remembrance plates were stolen once from the Lych Gate, which is Melling’s war memorial and they replaced them with brand new ones, which are now kept inside the church for safety. The plates are a very important part of a church.

All of the class really enjoyed the amazing trip. Everyone found out things they didn’t know especially if they don’t go to church! It really helped us with the WW1 project that we are doing at the moment. A big thanks to Bill for educating us about World War One!

 By Millie Teague, Y5, Melling Primary School.

The Battle of the Somme - Quantum Theatre Group

We brought in a professional theatre company to tell the story of The Battle of the Somme. Quantum Theatre played at Aintree Davenhill Primary in the morning, and then at Melling Primary in the afternoon. Holy Rosary pupils walked over to Aintree Davenhill to watch the show. Staff and children found it very powerful and moving, as well as being educational and informative.

The following is an account of the performance by  Holly Standing from Aintree Davenhill Primary School:

Two male actors came to our school and performed a play about the Battle of the Somme. They did lots of singing, dancing and different voices.

There were lots of hats and props which they switched in a different scene. I really enjoyed this play because although it had a very serious element to it, the actors made it fun and they used funny voices. They also made it interactive by asking people up to take part when they recruited soldiers . One man had a moustache and kept blowing it because it got in the way. Everyone found it really funny.

They sang songs about the war and you could join in.

I learnt that they recruited famous men to fight in the war and they went to the football ground to ask men if they wanted to fight in the war. They used this to help encourage other men to join them in the army.

We learnt lots of facts about the Battle of the Somme and it was done in a really fun way.