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Durham County Record Office: the official archive service for County Durham and Darlington

Suggested Activities

The following activities are based on the sources in this Unit, and designed to help pupils understand different experiences of the Great War. The activity document associated with each workshop can be downloaded as either a Microsoft Word file or an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. The intention is that pupils can type into the Microsoft Word files and save them to a computer's hard disk. If you do not have a compatible version of Microsoft Word you can use the PDF files and print the pages to fill in by hand.

If you need to download 'plug-in' software to view these files, please see the Microsoft Word Viewer or Adobe Acrobat Reader websites. If you have any problems, please contact us. 
These workshops are best delivered in sequence as they relate to each other, with a continuation of ideas and themes between each one.

1. Poetry Workshop

What was a soldier's experience like?

Two poems are provided which give very different impressions of what it was like to die as a soldier in the Great War. Pupils are asked to read the poems carefully and try to fill in a table of comparisons, looking at how each poem suggests what it was like to fight in World War One and which words in both poems are important.

2. Gathering Evidence Workshop

Was the Battle of the Somme a glory mission or a horror story?

Pupils discover that they need to look at more information to try and really understand what World War One was like. This workshop points pupils to the entire collection of documents in this Learning Zone Unit, so they can collect enough information to make a decision on which poet's impression was right.

3. Essay Workshop

Was every soldier's experience of the Battle of the Somme as bad as Wilfred Owen believed it to be?

From the evidence they have gathered, pupils are asked to answer an essay question. A writing frame is provided to help them structure their answer.

4. Newspaper Workshop


Pupils are asked to look carefully at the Recruitment section of this Unit. They use the information to answer questions about 'Pals Battalions' and then begin looking into methods used to recruit new soldiers into the British army. 
Pupils examine posters and try to explain how each of the sources would encourage men to join up. A stencil is provided so that pupils can create two newspaper front covers. They are asked to write as if they were present in 1916, just as the Battle of the Somme was about to begin, creating a headline and a report.

In one instance the pupils are asked to complete this work as if they are a patriotic journalist, encouraging as many men as possible to join the Army. In the second, they are asked to use the same stencil but this time write the headline and report from the point of view of Wilfred Owen, who would have been very much against the new recruits joining up. Hence the two reports should be very different.