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Wartime Christmas


									Wartime Christmas

What is the format for the day and where does it take place?

After a brief introduction in Learning Space 2 the children are divided into 3 groups.
Each group will spend approximately 25 minutes at each of the following activities:

Activity 1 – Christmas Images

A look at Christmas during the War years through images – slides, film and in
particular, the close examination of photographs. This activity explores the
experiences of those who were lucky enough to celebrate Christmas with their
families and loved ones. But also what it was like for military personnel serving far
away from home. What would it have been like for evacuees? What was it like to
hold your Christmas party in an air raid shelter? A series of thought provoking
questions will be produced and the children are invited to offer their thoughts and

Activity 2 – Wartime Toys / Games / Decorations

Toys and presents for children during the War were scarce and lots of toyshops
displayed empty shelves. This activity gives the children an opportunity to examine
genuine wartime toys and games and to learn how to make a simple toy of their own
when they return to school. It allows them to explore how inventive people had to be
at a time when it was often impossible to purchase Christmas trees and decorations
because of timber restrictions and paper shortages. People had to make their
own.....often out of newspaper!

Activity 3 – ‘Put that Light Out’ at Christmas

This is a structured handling activity led by a character from the period. The children
are invited to sit in the decorated period room and explore some artefacts belonging
to an ARP Warden. The character chats about Christmas and highlights all the
things she has managed to do to make the house look festive despite wartime
restrictions. She is very proud of her preparations for Christmas lunch and chats to
the children about how busy she has been in her garden and how inventive she has
been in the kitchen with just meagre rations!
Looking closely around the room there are objects that may look a little out of place
to the children but wouldn’t have been out of place during the war years! Why are
these objects here? This activity hopes to make children aware of the fact that
Christmas would have been enjoyed and celebrated wherever possible but that this
was still a time of conflict and that the threat of bombing raids was always there.
Although not essential if you would like the children to come to this activity in 1940s’
costume here are some ideas:

Role play costume ideas

This need not be an expensive enterprise and can be achieved with just a little effort
and imagination! If there are difficulties children could always wear school uniform as
they would have been evacuated collectively as a school.

Ideas for boys: Short trousers, shirt and sweater or sleeveless pullover. Dark knee
length socks, shoes, plimsolls or even wellington boots but NOT trainers. If possible,
a school cap or balaclava.

Ideas for girls: Dress or skirt and blouse with a cardigan. Shoes, plimsolls and short
socks. Hats could include hand knitted ones, berets, straw boaters or even
balaclavas. Long hair, tied in plaits.
Any items of clothing that are home knit would add to the effect as most adults and
children would have worn these.

Ideas for ladies: any dress worn with an apron and a scarf tied around the head is a
simple idea and gives an immediate appearance of the wartime housewife. Trousers,
dungarees and siren suits (jumpsuits) would be acceptable to represent those
working for the war effort as ammunition workers or Land Army girls. Colours of dark
blue, khaki, green and browns add a wartime feel.

Ideas for men: men of the time wore dark suits with waistcoats and always a hat of
some description. A look that can be created quite simply is to represent a member
of Civil Defence such as an Air Raid Warden. Dark blue overalls, boots and an
armband worn on the sleeve (initialled ARP) would create an instant impression.
Alternatively, and if obtainable, men could always dress as members of one of the
armed forces.

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