Wojtek the Soldier Bear

The project will be an exploration of issues connected with the story of Wojtek, the ‘Soldier bear’. This brown bear became a member of the Polish army during the Second World War. He finished his life after the war in Edinburgh Zoo. Monuments to the bear exist in Poland, Scotland and England. Pupils will learn history and develop their creativ...

Project overview

Partner schools

This project has two partners: Eastburn Junior and Infant School, Eastburn, England and Szkoła Podstawowa nr 9 im. Mikołaja Kopernika, Dzierżoniów, Poland.  It has included many varied cross-curricular activities.  These are listed below and further detailed information on each can be found in the relevant project Page.

Shared reading of 'Wojtek The Bear: Polish War Hero' by Aileen Orr

Pupils in both schools read the book, which is a true account of a bear which was adopted by the Polish army.  He famously took part in the supplying of munitions to allied troops at the Battle of Monte Casino in WW2.  After the war, he and his Polish comrades were stationed in the Scottish borders and he ended his days in Edinbugh Zoo in 1963.

Project logo design

The first activity was a project logo competition.  Children in both schools designed logos and then voted for their favourite.  This has become the project logo.

Wojtek models

Pupils in the Polish school designed and made models of Wojtek the bear.  These were then photographed and the English children voted for their favourite to select the winning design.

Music composition

Children in Year 3 in Eastburn School chose 5 episodes from Wojtek's life.  Working in groups, they composed a suite of music based on his life.  They performed this during the video call with Poland and it was also recorded and used on the Youtube video.

Video call

A video call was held between the classes in England and Poland.  The English children performed their suite of music about Wojtek's life.  Children in both schools talked about their learning in the project.

Youtube video

A video has been compiled of pictures of Wojtek's life created by the Polish children accompanied by the music created and performed by the English children.

Video for Polish School anniversary

The project was included in a video to celebrate the 55th anniversary of the founding of the Polish school.

Joint lesson - England and Poland

The Polish and English teachers made a joint lesson on Blendspace, to teach the pupils about events in WW2 which affected Poland and England.  Both classes took part in the same lesson.  This was followed by a quiz to test the chidlren's understanding of the lesson.  The feedback from the English school included: 'I liked the lesson as it was more difficult than usual.'

Exchange of letters

The Polish children initiated this activity.  They wrote letters to the English children to practise their English.  This inspired the Year 4 children in Eastburn to reply.  Improving writing is one of the whole school targets at Eastburn, so it was wonderful to have an opportunity to include writing for a real audience within this project work.

Writing to the author

Pupils in both schools wrote letters to the author of the book, Aileen Orr.  She has replied to these letters.

PSHCE (Personal, Social, Health and Citizenship Education)

The project was used in the English school as part of the PHSCE curriculum.  In particular, it led to discussions about migration and how visitors are welcomed, both to the class and to the country.  Children started to understand why Polish soldiers and families came to the UK at the end of WW2.

Memories from Siberia

Polish children interviewed their older relatives to ask about their lives and experiences in WW2.  These have been shared on the Twinspace and read by the children in England.  This first hand information has been incredibly valuable.

Reflection and evaluation

Pupils and teachers reflected on the learning in the project.

Quizzes

A number of quizzes were created by the Polish teacher for the pupils to test their understanding of lessons learned through the project.

Comparison of life in England and Poland today

The proect has continued with discussions between the classes about life in Poland and England today.  Pupils have compared their school timetables.  The exchange of letters continues.  The Polish children sent bookmarks to the English children as gifts to remember the project.

Wix website

A website has been set up to save key parts of the project so that it is available in the future.

Quality labels

Both schools have been awarded national Quality Labels for this project.

Dissemination

Articles have been published in local papers in both Poland and the UK.

Project Journal

The project journal has been used throughout and gives a week by week account of activities in the project.

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Diana Linford
Last editor: Diana Linford