WW2 Art (KS2) Fun Facts And Activities

Becky Gamester-Newton
Dec 12, 2023 By Becky Gamester-Newton
Originally Published on Sep 17, 2020
A boy sits on his father's lap as they read a book about WW2 art together.

Image © freepik, under a Creative Commons license.

The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945 and is one of the most important historical events your child will learn about at school

Primary school children in KS2 (Year 3, Year 4, Year 5 and Year 6) will learn about the period in various different lessons, not just history. It could also crop up in design and technology, maths, geography, English, physical education and art lessons.

This fascinating subject is a great way to combine your child's creative side with history. So, we've come up with lots of WW2 art ideas to bring the powerful events of the period to life, and to help you to provide brilliant homework help on the topic.

What Is Interesting About World War 2 Art?

British artists produced more than 6,000 pieces of war-related artworks. These were often influenced by their own first hand experiences, as, during the war, these artists were forced out of the comfort of their studios to don military uniforms, with some even experiencing life on the front line.

These powerful experiences influenced their work, which was often produced in very difficult circumstances - if shells were flying then artists would inevitably have to put their sketchbooks down!

Children will also be taught about WW2 artists' intent. Much of the artwork produced during the Second World War was actually propaganda - this is art that was produced with the aim of spreading a message, often for political gain.

One of the most famous propaganda posters read "Better pot luck with Churchill today than humble pie with Hitler tomorrow. Don't waste food!"

and was designed to ensure people stuck to their food rations. During the war, there were shortages in food due to various factors including a lack of people able to work on farms and German blockades stopping imports of food.

Another theme of WW2 art, particularly common in Blitz art, was the use of the silhouette. Artists found that a black silhouette really stood out against a bright background, such as the Blitz bombings, and the end result is often very powerful and striking pieces of art.

Homework Help World War 2: WW2 Artists

Established in 1939, The War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) was made up of the country's most talented artists. Each artist was tasked to create propaganda imagery, but the committee understood that their talents should not be limited by the creation of mass-produced posters.

They were keen to preserve the talents of the artists for the future and knew that their artwork would be a historical record of the atrocities faced at home and abroad, for years to come.

In total, more than 300 artists were commissioned by the WAAC, including the likes of Henry Moore, Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash.

After the war had ended, one third of the artworks were given to the Imperial War Museum while the rest were distributed to museums across Britain and the Commonwealth.

World War 2 Art Ideas

Art is a great way of teaching and exploring the World War 2 topic with children. Why don't you try out these World War 2 craft ideas to continue your child's KS2 learning?

Image © Pikwizard

Create Propaganda Posters:

Firstly, decide with your child which campaign you want to recreate (perhaps rationing or morale would be a good place to start).

Next, come up with slogans to include on your poster. This is a great way to practice your child's creative language skills and use of figurative language tools such as alliteration. Try to encourage them to keep the slogans short and simple, to make them as catchy as possible.

Then decide where the slogans should appear on your WW2 posters, and the type of imagery you want to use alongside them. Ask your child to think about the tone of the World War 2 slogans and how this should be reflected in the images on the posters.

Think about the use of colour. The pictures should stand out but not detract from the important messages in the slogans.

Go ahead and draw, colour in and paint your posters. Make sure your child takes them into school once dry to show their masterpieces to their teacher. We have no doubt that they will be really proud of these World War 2 school projects done at home!

Experiment With The Use Of Silhouettes:

Silhouettes were widely used by artists in WW2 and this technique might seem a bit technical at first. But don't fret if you're worried about teaching this, as it's a lot easier than it sounds.

To begin, encourage your child to paint with solid bright colours onto a sheet of paper. In order to keep it WW2 themed, we suggest using oranges and reds to create a replica of the famous examples of Blitz art.

Using a black piece of paper or card, draw the outline of a building or buildings that you want to use and carefully cut it out to create the silhouette.

Once the painted background is dry, stick the silhouette on top to complete your replica Blitz artwork!

Image © Racool_studio, under a Creative Commons license.

Create A Bomb Shelter:

If you're struggling to come up with WW2 craft ideas, how about creating your own bomb shelter? This activity would probably be best for older children in KS2 (Year 5 and Year 6 pupils will love this), and we think it's a great way to introduce models to primary school children.

Essentially, your shelter should be made of card or other materials and then painted accordingly - it could be painted silver to represent a metal colour, or you could use other materials to camouflage it, as shelters were often kept hidden from view during the war.

Get creative and build your shelter using whichever materials you have to hand and, when it is complete, you could ask your child to make sure it passes the following tests:

1. Can a Lego man (or one of your child's favourite toys) sit inside?

2. Can a heavy-ish weight (like a bag of sugar) sit on the top of it?

3. Can it survive being drenched? Make sure it's waterproof!

Focus On One Of The Famous Artists:

Start a research project with your child on a WW2 artist of your choice. For example, you could look at Henry Moore's Tube shelter drawings and try to recreate them yourselves in the same style.

Exploring these important artworks can inspire an inquisitive mind in children, it might even inspire a trip to see some WW2 art in real life at a museum or gallery.

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Written by Becky Gamester-Newton

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism

Becky Gamester-Newton picture

Becky Gamester-NewtonBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism

A countryside lover at heart, Becky grew up in the Yorkshire Dales and now resides in West Sussex with her family. She has been living in London for more than 10 years, where she pursued her journalism career before relocating to the countryside in 2019. In her free time, she enjoys watching live sports and drinking tea while being entertained by her chatty toddler and middle-aged cat. She has a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Central Lancashire.

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