Monday 4 May 2015

A Trip Down Memory Lane

This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of VE Day. A day which brought, for many across our nation, great joy, relief and celebration, for others the return to a "normality" which would look very different to their pre-war lives, and to many, the sadness of loved ones gone forever.

Its so important to teach our children this history... to let them learn the lessons from the past so that some mistakes are never repeated. It's a tough topic for little children, and yet this Friday provides the perfect opportunity for us, as a family, to begin to broach a topic so alien to our littles.

And the best way to do that? To earth it in the personal.

Ava has, over the past year or so, shown increasing interest in my grandparents. Only one is still living. My Granny passed away this time last year, and she mentions her from time to time. My Mum's parents passed longer ago, but their photos can be found around our house. The girls know who they are... they find it fascinating to hear about loved ones who are now "in heaven with Jesus". The war stories that I grew up with first hand will never be passed on to my children unless I do it. This is a new generation of young people, now totally removed from the generation who lived and breathed the Second World War.

And so, on Thursday, while the girls were upstairs having their down time, I gathered up all my war time bits and bobs... photographs of my grandparents; a gas mask I was given by the lady who used to babysit for us growing up and is long departed; my Grandmother's memory book... so very precious; a children's novel that my Grandmother was given as a prize in 1939... and other memorabilia - not genuine, but things that would help Ava to picture what life was like.

She was mesmerised... Wide eyed and eyes darting between me and the treasures on the floor... "Can I touch them?" she whispered. And so began an hour of exploration while little sister slept on... There is something wonderful about allowing children the freedom to handle artefacts... Letting them feel the pages, smell the scents, hear the sounds...

I had printed off some key words from Twinkl resources online too; this girl loves writing, so was in her element copying words like "air raid shelter" and "gas mask" and asking questions... question after question after question... about what the words meant and what the pictures represented.

To finish we just sat down and read my Nanny's memory book... And Ava questioned more, enjoyed the wartime stories of cycling home in pitch dark blackout, the tales of soldiers camped in the garden, and giggled at her Great-Nanny telling how she'd played teachers as a child and was forever giving the imaginary children the cane...

"probably a good thing I never became a teacher for those poor children's sakes!"

But my favourite line; her one piece of advice to pass on to future generations...

"To give my heart and life to The Lord Jesus Christ and live for Him. I have done this to the best of my ability but I would still like to do more... Wish I had given Him more"

The best lesson to learn from history!

Here are some ideas for helping preschoolers celebrate VE Day this Friday...
* Ask a family member/friend who experienced the war to share some stories
* Take a trip to the library and borrow some age-appropriate books
* Gather some memorabilia together. An old suitcase and a teddy bear would help you tell the story of evacuees
* Spend an afternoon playing evacuees... Dress up... What would you pack in your case? How would you feel?
* Explore online resources - Twinkl has lots of lovely resources to download for free.
* Throw a VE Day Party - lots of red, white and blue!


  1. Such a beautiful idea and so lovely to make history real for them! My granddad fought in the First World War and we have a diary he kept -increibke to think these events aren't just information in books!

  2. Beautiful! A lovely way to make history real for a generation so far removed from the events! Very touching to see your little lady take such an interest! x

  3. Sharon Walker4 May 2015 at 09:34

    Lovely x

  4. Love it that my grandchildren are learning about what their great grandparents experienced. Well done Claire x

  5. This is amazing x

  6. "The Lion and The Unicorn" by Shirley Hughes is a vivid wartime story from the point of view of a child -- not too graphic or traumatising for young children, but a perfect gentle introduction to the effects of war on ordinary people's lives. My kids love it.

    Could I ask what the book is that you're using -- the big one that's open to a page entitled "The War Years and After"? It looks promising!


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