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Lesson plan: Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel fact quest

Aim

To provide a general overview of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel during the First World War, as well as the sacrifices and achievements made by the people of Canada and Newfoundland.

Objectives

Youth will be expected to:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the key aspects of the participation of Canadians and Newfoundlanders in the First World War during the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.
  • develop an awareness of the conditions endured by those who fought in the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel.

Target Audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 17.

Sequence of Events and Anticipated Time Frame [60 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research [20 minutes]
  • Debrief [25 minutes]
  • Possible extension activity [variable]

Materials

Introductory Discussion [15 minutes]

The First World War began on August 4, 1914. Ask your students what they know about this major event that took place more than 100 years ago, changing the world and Canada in many ways. You may want to use 10 Quick Facts on... The First World War, 1916 - Prelude to the Somme or the Remembrance timeline to help with the discussion.

Ask students to talk about prior knowledge, movies they have seen, books they have read, websites they have visited or songs they have heard pertaining to the First World War. Are they aware that Canada played a role? Do they know that Newfoundland was not a Canadian province during during this period? More than 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served during the war.

Tell your students that the lesson will focus on the efforts and sacrifices of Canadians and Newfoundlanders during the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. Indeed, the heavy losses suffered by the Newfoundland Regiment during this campaign are still solemnly commemorated each year on Memorial Day in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Share that July 1, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. Special events and ceremonies will mark this important milestone, in Canada and in France. Even though there are no Veterans from that battle alive today, we still remember those who served and sacrificed.

Research [20 minutes]

Using a map, have students locate the country of France, the villages of Beaumont-Hamel and Courcelette, as well as the Somme River.

Distribute the Newfoundland Regiment and the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel fact sheet and the corresponding question sheet to half the class. Distribute the Canadian Corps and the Battle of the Somme fact sheet and corresponding question sheet to the remainder of the class. Allow time for students to answer the questions.

Debrief [25 minutes]

Review the answers to the two question sheets with the group.

You could take the opportunity to ask if students have relatives who served in the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel or during the First World War, and let them share their connection with our military history.

Ask them if they think that it is important to remember the Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served in the conflict and to justify their thoughts. Do they think a major conflict such as the First World War could happen again? Is it still relevant to have armed forces in Canada these days?

Possible extension activity [variable]

To situate the First World War in time, have the youth give their parents’, grandparents’, and perhaps even their great-grandparents’ years of birth. How do these dates relate to the time frame of the First World War? Ask them to reach out to their parents or grandparents regarding stories they know about the First World War. They may have photo albums or memorabilia they would be happy to share with the group.

Facilitate a discussion or have youth write a brief essay outlining the consequences of Newfoundland’s loss of so many young men in the First World War and the impact it had on the Dominion after the war. It may be useful to make links to the Second World War and the decision of Newfoundland to join Canada in 1949.

You could present the video Canada and the Great War 1914-1918: A Nation Born (20 minutes), on Canada’s involvement in the First World War. Following the video, have youth engage in discussions of specific themes and topics pertaining to the “Great War” and Canada’s involvement in the Battle of the Somme and Newfoundland’s connection to Beaumont-Hamel.

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