Lesson Plan: For Teachers - Life at the Front: A WWII Soldier's View
Ask students to consider those less fortunate than themselves. What kinds of things do we ignore or take for granted that others might find a privilege? (three meals a day, comfortable shelter, clean clothing). What would our lives be like if these comforts were no longer available to us? What if our lives resembled those of poor countries? What would we do to cope? How long could we stand these circumstances?
Outline the Opportunity
Direct students to the topic 1939-1945: A Soldier's War, and have them listen to the clips titled "Tea time on the battlefront" and "Rescue at sea". Then have them answer the following to understand and analyze the daily life of troops:
Describe the probable locations suggested in each of the articles.
Compare the two articles and list the similarities in the lives of soldiers/airmen as they live in their respective environments.
Contrast these articles, identifying the significant differences between the situations presented. What impact does fear have on one's perspective about living in discomfort? What is the value of laughter in the process of coping with adversity?
Next, have students write in role as either a soldier or an air officer in the situations described in the clip. They should write three days worth of journal entries describing their life in the circumstances presented.
Revisit and Reflect
Have students share and compare their journal entries, focusing particularly on the tone of the entries, and on the aspects of daily life that are chronicled. Ask: What makes the lives of these soldiers similar? Different? What factors do you think affect how they act and feel?
Have students write a song or poem that "sings the blues" about the misery and discomfort of the life of a soldier at war.