Image credit: Kolforn-Wikimedia
School street party
One of the most iconic images of VE Day is of revellers celebrating in the streets. Hold a street party in your playground with lines of tables covered with cloths. Either lay on a rationing-style meal with spam sandwiches or invite attendees to bring a dish. Open it up to the local community to bring people together. Provide entertainment with music, games and a singalong.
Fair and parade
Parade were held across the country on VE Day. If you want to organise your own, why not combine it with a 40s fair? Invite visitors to attend and parade in fancy dress. At the fair, set up classic games, such as tin can alley and award tokens in pounds, shillings and pence, which can be exchanged for prizes. Hold planting activities with a ‘dig for victory’ theme. Stop for the three-minute silence at 3pm.
During VE Day, dance halls stayed open until midnight, so turn your school hall into the venue for a ‘40s dance. Organise a shindig for adults with a bar, live music and dressing up. Hold dance lessons at the event to get everyone waltzing and jiving away. If all else fails, did you know revellers congaed through the streets on VE Day?
History in the classroom
Organise a history day at the school. Invite local veterans to speak and challenge pupils to create a newspaper page announcing the end of the war. Make your event even more fun by inviting pupils to dress up, and hold activities such as cooking a rationed meal, tasting 1940’s foods and playing traditional games. Create a display in the hall using the finished newspaper articles to raise awareness throughout the school.
Plan a World War II art display inspired by propaganda posters and display the results at your school. Host an open evening where you can play wartime music (or have a live singer) and sell tea and cakes. Parents could even buy the designs afterwards.
Tips and advice
Flags and bunting
On VE Day it was announced that people could purchase red, white and blue bunting without using ration coupons, so use copious amounts at your event! For a make-do-and-mend twist, make the bunting out of old school uniform if yours is one of those colours.
Invite people to come dressed in 1940’s attire to your events. Collect clothes before the event and hold a sale for those who don’t have anything to wear.
Games and activities
Crack out traditional games such as cards, marbles, dice and jacks. To bring everyone together, how about a wartime singalong? Teach pupils the songs beforehand or hand out lyric sheets for everyone to follow.
1940s and wartime compilation playlists are available on music streaming platforms. CDs are cheap to buy and are commonly found in charity shops. To add some real pizazz, hire a live jazz band. Check licensing requirements for music played at events.