One of our current background topics is World War 1. (I say background topic because the kids read a bit about it, have a break then come back and do something, have a break and so on – it seems to be a slow topic that is constantly being circled back to). And one of the books that we have found really informative and a great springboard is The Battle of Passchendaele: Band 18/Pearl (Collins Big Cat). It is one of their Big Cat readers and has been written for Key Stage 2 ages but I love these books and I still think it is an invaluable resource for my Year 7 daughter to read and reread. The Big Cat books are written in a very easy style, packed with information but not overwhelming detail. And although the book is called the battle of Passchendaele it really is a general World War 1 book which highlights that specific battle.
It starts with a good explanation of why the world war started, life in the trenches, what a Tommy wore and no man’s land. Then it goes onto Passchendaele and why it was considered so important. While talking about the battle of Passchendaele they cover the whole issue of mud in quite good detail as well as different weapons used (including gas). It covers animals in war (my kids like learning about this), what was meant by a war of attrition and how it was not just the countries in Europe involved but their whole empires. We also really enjoyed the sections about war time medicine – my kids find the advancement of medicine during the wars fascinating.
And then in concludes with some facts about how many died and a brilliant visual summary of key facts.
So although it does highlight the battle of Passchendaele, the book is filled with general information about World War 1. Both my kids really enjoyed reading it (aged 9 and 11) and I think it has been very well written with lots of information but nothing too grim.
After reading the book my son spent some time on the Twinkl website and found the Life in the Trenches hotspot page good (the kids click on the crosses and then a box with more information pops up).
He also liked “The beginnings of World War 1″ booklet – a few pages the kids can print out and then create their own booklet.
And if you do have Twinkl membership their World War 1 eBook is very handy resource. (My son really liked the way they explained the start of World War in the eBook.)
My daughter actually found some pages on Passchendaele on the Teachit History website. It is a three lesson plan set up around nursing the wounded at Passchendaele. She is still working through it but says it is very informative. – Lesson 1, lesson2, lesson3.
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