Braidside Integrated Primary School visiting the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum.
Located in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast, the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum (NWM) remembers those who sacrificed their lives in World War One and Two, as well as those who died in the blitz on Belfast in 1941.
Alongside this, Primary schools can visit the NWM and take part in its Primary school programme to learn about life in Northern Ireland during World War Two.
The programme delivered by the NWM’s Education and Outreach department and which is suitable for both Key Stage 1 and 2 pupils, can also be tailored to cater for specific needs and interests.
The programme allows students to investigate how life changed on the Home Front during World War Two through a variety of hands-on activities. Pupils are taught about air raid precautions, the Dig for Victory campaign, the evacuation of children from the city and the Belfast Blitz.
The day begins with a fact-filled audio visual display, which is complemented by photographs, newspapers, oral accounts and real objects from the museum handling collection.
“They are thrilled to hold an incendiary bomb and astounded to see a baby’s gas mask up close,” Jenny Haslett, the museum manager, explains. “They love to hear interesting and quirky stories such as that of a baby girl born under a kitchen table during an air raid, children eating bananas for the first time after the war, and about a little girl called Ruby who was found unhurt in the rubble in Belfast in 1941 and rescued by an air raid warden.”
In the next part of the session students visit the Home Front exhibition, which looks further into Northern Ireland’s role in World War Two and specifically the Belfast Blitz, the Ulster Home Guard, Civil Defence and the American servicemen who trained in the country from 1942 to 1944.
Objects, artworks and uniforms relating to wartime industries are on display and students will be able to complete a gallery trail or creative quiz whilst looking around.
They will also visit a wartime kitchen display, which encourages discussion about rationing, and the Dig for Victory and Make do and Mend campaigns.
The final, often most popular, part of the day sees students (and teachers!) get to try on military and civilian coats and helmets that were worn during the Belfast Blitz.
In total the programme lasts between two and three hours. There is also an option to stay and use the education room as a space for packed lunches.
Class size for the programme is restricted to 30 pupils.
During the day students will also be encouraged to use and develop their skills in areas such as problem solving, decision making, working with others and managing information.
The NWM also encourages schools to take the knowledge gained as part of the visit back to the classroom and provides craft and wartime recipes ideas to try post visit.
The programme is available to schools free of charge.