The students will now be introduced to the personal stories of individuals and how they experienced the War. Teacher to project an example of a letter home from The Canadian Letters and Images Project: WWI. There are many examples on this database and they are even organized by date, therefore students could read one written on the same date they have class. Optional: Teacher can play short NFB doc: Front Lines: The Trenches. Excerpts of letters home are read describing soldier life in the trenches. 9:45 mins.
Teacher or student to read the letter out loud. Ask students to analyze the letter in small groups or as a class. Teacher should emphasize that all letters were read and sometimes censored, so that important military information such as location details or other sensitive, sometimes classified information, was never leaked nor intercepted by the enemy.
Students to answer the following:
- Who is writing the document?
- Who is the person writing to?
- What details does the person give about their life or duties in the War?
- What does the person say about their personal wellbeing?
- What details do they give about their physical surroundings?
- What is the purpose of the letter?
- What facts or information would you like to know that are not said?
Teacher to project a copy of a telegram received and read out loud the contents. Teacher to ask the class what is the difference between the two documents, a letter vs. a telegram. Use this example from The Canadian Letters and Images Project: WWI.
Teacher to project a copy of a Christmas card sent to Canada by a soldier during WWI. Teacher or student to read out loud the contents. Ask students what is the sentiment expressed by the card. How must it have made families at home feel? How it is different, or similar, to a Christmas card today?
Other activities you might like
This exhibition provides an overview of the First World War, from its causes to its consequences, with a special focus on the Battle of Vimy Ridge and its importance to the conflict. It is composed of 14 panels.
Nothing compares to a visit to our partner museums for students to directly interact with history. Guided museum tours and complementary activities make history come alive and will spark your students’ interest!