Victory in Europe Day (VE Day) commemorates Tuesday, 8 May 1945, the date when the Allies of World War II formally accepted the Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender of its armed forces. (The formal surrender of the German forces occupying the Channel Islands did not occur until the following day, 9 May 1945). It thus marked the end of World War II in Europe.
Many schools choose to commemorate the day through assemblies or by undertaking research in class. We hope this blog will support you to explore how people reacted at the end of the war in Europe and how the British celebrated on the Home Front with your pupils.
To introduce the day perhaps you could use the BBC Sound Effects resource. You could explore which sounds your pupils recognise from the “mystery sounds” you play. There are many sounds to pick from including: Doodle Bugs, gunfire, air raids and tanks.
Then to explore and learn more about WWII, the Widgit resource has WWII ‘Books’ and ‘Activities’. The titles in the books include: World War 2, The Blitz, War in the East, Life at Home and Life for Children. These short books contain simple sentences and pictures, with each covering a separate topic. Each book is available at 5 different levels and has relevant vocabulary cards at the back and has an activity pack (with six activities – matching activity, missing vowel, quiz, sentence matching, spelling and wordsearch) to download also.
Busy Things has a ‘World War 2 warfare’ resource which explores the question, “What was it like for soldiers to fight in the war?” In addition, you could use the new Comic Strip resource in BusyThings with your pupils. They could storyboard the announcement that the war was over, the way people celebrated VE Day or even the causes of WWII by choosing from the preprepared templates for comic strips. The example was completed in BusyThings in English>composition>storytelling and poetry.
Should you want to explore the work of women as code breakers during WWII then our resource ‘Women in Computing’ aims to recognise and promote the achievements of women in British computing within the social context of the time. The pupils can learn about the important role they played in the eventual victory of WWII.
To explore the Holocaust and Nazi era in greater depth, you could use the Documenting the Holocaust resource. LGfL has been given unique access to the Wiener Library’s collection (a world leading and extensive archive on the Holocaust and Nazi era). This powerful resource is aimed at Key Stages 2-5 PSHE, Citizenship, History and R.E.
The M Room resource from LGfL gives exclusive access to secret World War II listening sites where the British Secret Service bugged high-ranking German Military prisoners. The resource features an interview with one of the original secret listeners and extensive primary-source material from the Ministry of Defence, relatives of those involved, and The National Archives.
Further resources not hosted on LGfL which are free to access can be found below:
The War and Peace Shed from the Literacy Shed, has a range of short films that could be used when looking at the theme of World War II (including ‘German in the Woods’, ‘The Piano’ and ‘Beyond the Lines’.)
In addition, you could play Winston Churchill’s announcement below: