Living with the War is a schools' play specifically designed to support the exploration of World War One at Key Stages 1 - 4. Available to schools across the UK, over 5,000 children and young people have taken part in our WWI Schools play and workshops over the last two years.

Living with the War - Schools Play

It’s difficult to comprehend the scale of World War I, with millions of young lives ended by the conflict. So Living with the War explores the events of 1914 – 1918 through the eyes of two families, one wealthy, the other scraping a living, in the fictional English village of Puddington. And this interactive performance shows how, while they may have been hundreds of miles from the battlefields of France and Belgium, they were still caught up in events. With fathers, sons and brothers away fighting, those left at home did their bit by making “comforts” for the soldiers and working in the munitions factories.

Commissioned from professional writer and former teacher Dr Paul Burns, Living with the War introduces pupils to the outbreak of World War I – before taking an emotionally sensitive approach to the extents to which its ripples were felt. Working with Sir Arthur and Lady Puddington and Lizzie and Tom Mayne, pupils will have opportunities to re-enact a range of aspects of life on the home front (and to learn some topical songs) as they move through the years from 1914 – 18.

The 75 minute interactive performance (which is suitable for up to 180 pupils at a time) is followed by six, 60 minute, age-differentiated workshops (each suitable for up to 30 pupils) that use drama to explore some of the themes in more detail, (accommodating 120 pupils in total).

The performance is particularly suitable for Key Stages 2 - 3 but can be adapted for older age groups – please ask for more details.

Outcomes: greater knowledge of the causes and course of the War; heightened awareness of activities on the home front; increased understanding of the roles played by class and gender during the period.

Cross-curricular Links: History, Geography, English, Drama, Maths, RE

"Thank you for bringing your superb WW1 play and workshops to us last week. The children were captivated by the play and thoroughly enjoyed the workshops. They got so much out of the whole process and there was a lot of scope for us to follow up afterwards. I was very impressed by the old fashioned language used in the play -something year 6 picked up on later. Above all, the show was moving. I had been to see the poppies at the Tower of London the day before, but this small drama brought tears to my eyes for the small, human story of one village through the war. Thank you." (Helen Graff, Edith Neville Primary School)


Other World War I workshops on offer include: 

Key Stage 1 / 2: Mise-en-Scène Memories (Visual and Performance Arts)

While you’ll surely remember your first day at school, there’ll be little else before that’s concrete in your mind. Combining autobiographical storytelling, creative questioning techniques and simple decoupage, we’ll encourage children to cherish the Mise-en-Scène Memory Dioramas they’ll make with us today – dioramas that will hold their memories forever.

Time: 1½ - 2½ hours (depending on your timetable and the number of classes we’re working with)

Cross-Curricular Links: History, Art, Literacy, Geography


Key Stage 3 / 4: Personification Poetry

Adapted from a technique we learnt from Michael Rosen, Personification Poetry allows students to view landscapes and events from the perspectives of inanimate objects and to explore how rhythm, repetition and resonance can help them create their own powerful war poems.

Time: 1½ - 2½ hours (depending on your timetable and the number of classes we’re working with)

Cross-Curricular Links: History, English, Geography


Key Stage 2 / 3: Wilfred Owen - A Soldier’s Story (Poetry and Visual Arts)

We’ll introduce the pupils to Wilfred Owen, a serving soldier who died in the dying days of the conflict – and a soldier whose memories live on today through his poems. Taking at least one letter each, they’ll work together to create a collage of clay tiles that spell out the bittersweet title of one of his best-known works: “Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori”.

Time: 1½ - 2½ hours (depending on your timetable and the number of classes we’re working with)

Cross-Curricular Links: History, Art, DT, Literacy, Geography, MFL


Key Stage 2 / 3: The Veteran (Drama)

Margaret Postgate Cole was one of the women poets who chronicled the War – and her short verse “The Veteran” was designed to challenge assumptions. After using drama techniques to acquaint themselves with the poem, the pupils will work in small groups to plan, prepare, perform and appraise short plays exploring some of the less visible ways that the Great War has influenced all our lives.

Time: 1½ - 2½ hours (depending on your timetable and the number of classes we’re working with)

Cross-Curricular Links: History, Drama, Literacy, Geography, Science, RE


Upper Key Stage 2: Pals’ Promotions (Drama and Visual Arts)

Made up of men from the same neighbourhood, workplace or football club, Pals Brigades were intended to support teamwork and build morale. And they did – but often at the cost of whole communities finding their young men wiped out. But what makes your neighbourhood fantastic? And how could it be celebrated through drama and/or visual arts? This spiritual, moral, social and cultural programme is longer term than the others in this leaflet -  but is one that’s sure to leave longstanding results.

Time:  2 x full days

Cross-Curricular Links: History, Drama, Art, Literacy, Geography, RE

"I want to say thank you for a fantastic day for our Key Stage 2. The children really enjoyed it and were engaged at all times. It covered a range of learning styles and the children enjoyed it immensely. The sessions were really hands on and interactive and the children were always switched on. I feel they have learned a lot from the sessions and it will show in their up coming history work. I know from discussions with the staff and pupils that it was an entirely enjoyable experience and you  will be our first port of call for any future history topics.  Thank you very much." (Rob Nixon, History Subject Leader, The Berkeley Primary School) 


Get in touch

For more information or to book any of these programmes please email us at or call 0151 708 8886.


First World War Centenary commemorations

14-18 NOW, the official cultural programme for the First World War Centenary commemorations, has now been launched. The new 14-18 NOW website is now live, where you can find out more information about the full programme of events.


Useful WWI Links


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