WW1 Project Retrospective: Secondary School Sessions

Image of the project poetry book

I was so excited when Bury Archives asked me to be a part of the ‘Bury Remembers the First World War’ Project as a Secondary School Facilitator. What a great opportunity to be more involved with the Archives, connect with schools and learn so much more about World War One in the Bury area.

My role was to look through articles which volunteers had picked out from five digitised newspapers from 1914-1916 and use these to create ‘Inspiration Boxes’ full of engaging items. I took the boxes to secondary schools in Bury to engage pupils with World War One in the local area.

I soon discovered there was so much information! There were many themes I could have picked to focus on but three things which took me by surprise were; the layout and materiality of the newspaper itself, the masses of adverts using the war to sell products and finally letters printed from the soldiers showing the conditions when fighting.


An ‘Inspiration Box’ showing artwork, articles on postcards, newspapers,pencil and wrist band.

During the school sessions, I filled the walls with today’s newspapers to compare them with the ones from World War One. The children were brilliant at identifying the differences such as; no colour, no headlines and pages crammed full of tiny writing (hence why we added a magnifying glass to the ‘Inspiration Boxes!)

image of old and modern day newspapers

I prepared A2 size versions of different articles which each group used to highlight their immediate thoughts. We then looked more closely at them to see what daily life was like for people at home during the war. Many of the children were surprised to see that Bury football club carried on their matches, even during a time of conflict. We also noted that some businesses used the war as propaganda to sell more products- a great example was a large advert by a tea company using the newspaper to accuse their rival ‘Lipton Ice Tea’ of having German owners! Focusing on life in Bury was great for the children as they recognised certain elements that they could relate to, such as references to the streets they now live on.

Lastly, the children looked at the poems and letters written by soldiers to think about what a soldier fighting in a foreign country would have felt. They used these and their ‘Inspiration Boxes’ to create pieces of work of their choice; an artwork, poem, advert or letter. These were better than I could have hoped for and I was so impressed with the variety of responses and what the children achieved! These works will be around for primary school children to look at during the coming sessions this year. [See other blog post]


A poem by Charlie Prince, St Monica’s High School:

“As the Snow falls on my face

Making me numb with its frozen flakesimage of the original poem

Day before Christmas, oh such fun!

Us in the trenches dying one by one

It should be one of the best days of our lives

Instead there is gun shots up in the sky.

People looking under their trees

Us wondering when we will be free

And when all hope seemed to be gone

A snowflake falls and makes us one.”

For further information about our Secondary School resources or to order your free ‘Inspiration Box’ with a suggested lesson plan, please contact Gina Warburton at gina.warburton@bury.gov.uk


3 thoughts on “WW1 Project Retrospective: Secondary School Sessions

  1. Pingback: WW1 Project Retrospective: Secondary School Sessions | Bury Archives & Local History

  2. This is excellent about the children being engaged with the World War One and how life was for those within the conflict and for those at home. I was certainly moved with the poem by Charlie Prince, the meaning was very well established and conveyed feelings of fear, doubt. On Christmas Day I believe the guns stopped and the British and German men started to show civility to each other. I think it is great that children are engaging in looking into the past to really see how life was beforehand and in the period of the World War One.


    • Thank you Michael. We are hoping to send our ‘Inspiration Boxes’ out to members of the general public in the coming months so more people can interact with this fabulous resource.


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