Humanities - Playing for your life

17th August 2012 at 01:00

What it's all about

The Second World War is a fantastic topic to teach. Pupils are fascinated by its impact on daily life and evacuation is a wonderful way to emphasise its effect on children in Britain, writes Chris Fenton.

But I also like to encourage pupils to consider the impact the war had on children in occupied countries, particularly those who were Jewish. Victimised, humiliated and persecuted, they did not have the luxury of evacuation to keep them safe, which is why I am so keen on relating the story of Anne Frank.

I take the class into the hall or school grounds for a game of hide-and- seek. When they return, we talk about how seekers were outwitted or how easy it was to find hiders who gave themselves away. They soon realise that the hide-and-seek played by many Jewish families was a desperate bid for survival.

I have also erected screens in the classroom, encouraging children to change into their PE kit or eat cake from a plate with a knife and fork without making a sound, for fear of being caught. They get a real sense of the terror Jewish families must have felt.

Children understand hiding. By using it to teach what war meant for those who were caught up in it, Anne's story ceases to be mere writing on a page. When the ending is revealed - that her family was captured, sent to a concentration camp and most of them slaughtered - the class is devastated.

What else?

Watch a recreation of Anne Frank receiving her diary in a dramatisation from BBC Class Clips - History. Explore Anne's life with a timeline activity shared by fairykitty.

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