June 1, 2020
This week is the anniversary of the 1940 evacuation at Dunkirk in World War Two. Sophie (aged 7) and Ellie (aged 5) tell the story of how against all the odds the British army was saved from the Dunkirk beaches. Hitler’s plans for victory in World War Two are thwarted as the British Army makes its escape. The story is full of twists and turns so extraordinary that it became known as the Miracle of Dunkirk. We feel the fear as the German tanks close in on Dunkirk thanks to their Blitzkrieg tactics. Sophie and Ellie put themselves in shoes of a British solder waiting on the beaches for rescue. An original song brings the excitement to life as the Small Ships come into view. Afterwards Winston Churchill reminds the country that wars are not won by evacuations.
Songs, music, sound and humour bring the story to life.
- Germany attacks Poland
- We learn about the Blitzkrieg tactics
- The Germans outflank the Maginot line
- The Panzers race behind the British and French Armies
- The British and French fall back on Dunkirk
- The French buy time with a brave defence at Lille
- Hitler give his “Halt” order to the Panzers.
- We explore the different reasons why Hitler gave this order
- The Royal Navy tries to rescue the soldier from the beaches
- We discuss why this was so difficult
- The call goes out for the small ships to help.
- We experience life on board one of the small ships as it faces German air attack
- We learn what people thought back home of the soldiers
- Winston Churchill’s words ring out across time as we hear his actual radio address
- Britain may have got her army home, but we learn how it is denuded of tanks and equipment.
- Britain now lies defended only by the Navy and Airforce
- The scene is set for the Battle of Britain.
If you like this episode you might also enjoy our Battle of Britain episode:
May 25, 2020
We learn about the Fall of the Roman Empire and the End of Roman Britain. Sophie and Ellie help tell the story of how the continuous barbarian attacks, corruption, overmighty generals and a manpower shortage led to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. We dive into the story of Britain to show what this meant for one part of the Empire. Then we go to Rome itself for the Sacking of Rome in 410AD. Sophie sings a song which brings to life the abandonment of Britain by Rome.
- Britain is now reconciled to Roman rule. The era of Boudicca is long past.
- Britain is heavily garrisoned with Roman soldiers to keep out the Irish, the Picts, the Angles and the Saxons.
- But the Roman Empire is getting weak.
- It is so big that the Empire is divided into a Western and an Eastern half. But this just fatally weakens it more.
- Corruption takes money away from funding the army
- Disease sweeps through the empire giving it a manpower problem
- The Roman Empire reacts by inviting tribes into the Empire to help defend it. But this just brings their enemies within the borders
- The Generals all want to be Emperor themselves. Their fighting weakens the Roman Empire
- Magnus Maximus takes the Roman legions to the continent to help make himself Emperor
- When he loses the legions are not replaced.
- Soldiers are taken off Hadrians Wall to defend Rome
- Then the final Roman soldiers go to help drive back the Goths who have stormed across the frozen River Rhine.
- Britain is defenceless. The Roman Emperor writes to the Britons to tell them that they are on their own.
- But none of this is enough to save the Western Roman Empire
- The Goth storm the city and sack Rome.
- After more and more attacks the Western Roman Empire is abolished.
If you’ve liked this episode you might like
Our story of how Hannibal tried to defeat Rome with his elephants
Our story of Boudicca’s doomed revolt against Rome
Or our exploration of the Roman Empire at the height of its power
May 17, 2020
Sophie and Ellie tell the story of how America got its independence from Britain thanks to the Battle of Yorktown in 1781. We hear the different sides of the arguments that led to war between Britain and her American colonists. The war is stalemated. But the French join the war. The war culminated in the Battle of Yorktown. We feel the excitement of the battle as Alexander Hamilton storms the British positions under George Washington’s leadership. The British are left stunned and defeated. America gains her independence. The war sows the seeds of the French Revolution.
- We link the story to last week’s episode about the Jamestown colony
- The causes of the American Revolutionary Wars
- The fact that the war has different names in Britain and in America – The Revolutionary War in America, and the America War of Independence in Britain.
- The heavy German composition of the British Army
- The skill of George Washington in victory and in defeat
- The reasons why the British could not win the war
- The entry of the French
- The change in strategy of both Britain and Washington as they pivot from New York to the South
- The pivotal sea battle at Chesapeake Bay, why the British lost, and why it mattered.
- Alexander Hamilton storms the British fort at Yorktown
- The British surrender at Yorktown and play the World Turned Upside down.
- George III is left stunned by his defeat
- The British give up the war
- America gains her Independence
- The French may have helped win this war. But they have sowed the seeds of the French Revolution
- We explore how the institution of slavery tarnished the victory.
The story is enlivened with music, sound effects and an original song which brings to life the different points of view between Britain and America. There is empathy for the points of view of both sides.
If you like this podcast you might like our episode about the founding of the colony of Jamestown by the English:
Or you might like our War of Jenkins Ear in which we learn how George Washington came by his home of Mount Vernon
Or you might like our episode on Smallpox which shows how George Washington defeated Smallpox in the war.
May 10, 2020
We tell the story of the founding of Jamestown settlement in 1607 and how Pocahontas helped it survive so it eventually grew into the United States of America. And we tell where the Disney film Pocahontas got it wrong and got it right. Sophie (aged 7) and Ellie (aged 4) put ourselves in the shoes of the Powhatan Indians. We feel the excitement of the colonists as they build the Jamestown settlement. This is the anniversary week of the founding of the Jamestown settlement so it is a great time to listen to this podcast.
- English sailors bravely cross the Atlantic for Virginia
- They build the settlement of Jamestown
- We explore the reaction of the Powhatan Indians.
- Sophie and Ellie put themselves in the shoes of the Powhatan Indians and talk about how they might have reacted
- We feel the experiences of the settlers as they starve and freeze through the winter.
- We meet the brave John Smith. And we see him captured by the Powhatan Indians
- We hear how Pocahontas threw herself over his body to save him
- We find out more about their friendship.
- Joy turns to tragedy as John Smith is injured.
- We learn about the differences between the Disney Pocahontas and the real Pocahontas
- Things go from bad to worse in later winters for the Jamestown settlers with the Starving time.
- With John Smith gone Pocahontas stops helping the Jamestown colonists.
- Eventually the colonists decide to abandon the settlement in 1610. It looks as though the colonisation of North America by the English has failed.
- But back in England John Smith is writing a book about his adventures with Pocahontas.
- The English are gripped by the book.
- They decide to send more settlers and colonists to Jamestown.
- Just as the Jamestown settlers set sail the English fleet arrives. The Jamestown colony is saved.
- Eventually that colony grows into the United States of America.
If you like this episode you might also like our Christopher Columbus episode:
Or you might also like our Space Race episode about a more recent exploration:
Enjoy this classic history story brought to life for kids but now understand what really happened.
May 3, 2020
Sophie and Ellie tell the story of VE Day (V-E Day) celebrations 75 years ago. They are missing out this year because of the Coronavirus. They had been planning a VE Day street party. But now they are trapped at home. So with their Daddy they tell the story of the VE Day celebrations. They learn how awful World War 2 had been. They understand just how relieved ordinary people were to put it all behind them. They get swept up in the VE Day Party atmosphere of 75 years ago.
Much of the story is told through the actual words of Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II. As a young woman she partied incognito on the streets of London and later said that VE Day was “the most memorable day of my life”.
We also hear the actual words of the Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister, and of President Truman, the President of the United States of America. They both marked VE Day with radio addresses to their peoples.
- The dying days of the war
- Vicious fighting as the Russians close in on Hitler’s bunker
- Hitler kills himself
- The toughness of the home front for civilians
- Word leaks out about the precise date of VE day
- Churchill makes sure London has enough beer for a massive party on VE day
- Street parties, conga dancing and mass celebrations light up VE day
- Churchill gives a patriotic VE day address
- Princess Elizabeth sneak out of the Buckingham Palace to celebrate incognito with the crowds
- In her own words we follow Princess Elizabeth around London enjoying the VE Day partying with her
- We hear President Truman’s sadness that President Roosevelt died and just missed VE day
If you liked this podcast you might like our episode on the Battle of Britain
And you might like our episode on Animals in History which has other stories from World War 2 in it.
This episode offers a great way to introduce children to the importance of VE day in our national memory. We were supposed to be having a national holiday and a series of events to mark it. This episode can help with your home learning around this important topic.
April 26, 2020
We tell the story of the Battle of Britain through the speeches of Winston Churchill. We discover the strategy of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany to conquer Britain. We hear stirring speeches from Winston Churchill as he rallies the British people before the Battle of Britain starts. The podcast is set alive with the noise of dogfights and Spitfires and Hurricanes fight Messerschmitts in the skies above England. We learn about how the German strategy goes wrong as they start to bomb London. We hear the newsreels of the bombing of Buckingham Palace. As victory draws near we hear Winston Churchill’s on the radio telling the British people that the moment is now. With songs, including an original song, that all the kids can singalong too and help tell the story. Finally, no one can fail to be moved by Winston Churchill’s eulogy to The Few, to whom we all owe so much.
- 1940 and World War Two
- Hitler’s plan to invade Britain
- How Winston Churchill rallied Britain
- The Spitfire, Hurricane and Messerschmidt fighters
- The causes of the Battle of Britain
- Why Britain won the Battle of Britain
- We understand the critical role that Radar played in the Battle of Britain
- How the Poles and other nations helped win the Battle of Britain
- How Winston Churchill paid tribute to the brave British pilots
A great way to keep kids entertained during lockdown. They will enjoy the songs and find the battle stories very exciting. Winston Churchill’s speeches are still an inspiration to us all. With the Battle of Britain a part of the National Curriculum for KS2 you can be sure that this is a great home learning podcast.
If you like this podcast you might like our podcast about the Spanish Armada of 1588.
Or you might like our podcast about Jack Cornwall and the Battle of Jutland in WW1.
April 19, 2020
Sophie (aged 7) and Ellie (aged 4) tell the story of the Smallpox vaccine. They are bored at home with the Coronavirus. They cast their mind to the Smallpox virus which devastated civilisations and killed millions of people all over the world. We learn how we defeated smallpox through the bravery of people like George Washington and the genius of Edward Jenner with some help from Blossom the Cow. This positive and uplifting story gives hope and trust that we have beaten viruses like smallpox and can do it again.
- How smallpox killed millions
- How smallpox is a virus like coronavirus but much more dangerous
- We learn how some think that China gave smallpox to the Roman world through trade
- We follow Cortez and the Spanish as they conquer the Aztec Empire with the help of Smallpox
- We come across an evil British general who wants to use smallpox as a biological weapon
- We see how George Washington in the American War of Independence is brave enough to try a new prevention treatment for smallpox
- Sophie tells the science of how vaccines work to build up immunity for viruses like smallpox and maybe one day Coronavirus
- We meet Blossom the Cow and Edward Jenner. We learn about Edward Jenner’s experiments to develop a vaccine against smallpox.
- We find out about the scientific method and how experiments are the foundation of science.
- We celebrate Edward Jenner’s great success in developing a vaccine to prevent smallpox.
- We see how smallpox has now been completely eradicated by modern science.
- We hope for and foresee a world where other viruses like Coronavirus can be eradicated too.
This episode works well with the Florence Nightingale episode on the foundation of modern nursing:
And with the Black Death episode the on the pandemic of the 14th century:
April 12, 2020
Sophie (aged 7) and Ellie (aged 4) tell the story of climax of the Wars of the Roses. England is riven with civil war. The Houses of Lancaster and the House of York battle for the throne of England. It seems as if the House of York is triumphant. The Lancastrian king is killed. Edward IV is King of England and the land is at peace. The Wars of the Roses are over. Or are they?
On his deathbed Edward IV asks his brother Richard to take care of the kingdom and his his sons. Richard promises to do so. But once Edward is dead, Richard III takes the throne for himself. He is crowned King Richard III. He imprisons his nephews in the Tower of London. Then they are never seen again. Over time they are called the Princes in the Tower. Everyone starts to think that Richard III has killed them.
The Wars of the Roses restart.
In France lives Henry Tudor, the father of Henry VIII of six wives fame. Henry gets an army together and invades England. At Bosworth Field in 1485 the army of Richard III and Henry Tudor meet. The climactic Battle of Bosworth sees Richard III betrayed by his nobles. He is killed in battle. Henry Tudor crowns himself Henry VII, King of England. The two princes in the Tower of London are never seen again. But years later two bodies of young boys are found behind a staircase in the Tower of London. Most people assume that Richard III killed them. Henry VII and his children then blacken the name of Richard III with the help of a playwright called Shakespeare. The Wars of the Roses are finally over.
Together we explore
- Richard III – why did he do what he did?
- The Wars of the Roses
- The causes of the Wars of the Roses
- The Battle of Bosworth
- The story of the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster
- How the country came together again
- How Shakespeare and others helped ensure Richard III was hated throughout history.
The podcast is brought to life with action effects and an original song from the point of view of Richard III before the Battle of Bosworth.
Fits in well with Key Stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2) of the national curriculum and can be used by teachers, and enjoyed by parents and children alike.
April 5, 2020
Sophie tells her younger sister, Ellie, all about the Great Fire of London of 1666. We learn about the Plague, the Baker's oven on Pudding Lane, how fire ravaged the city and destroyed the remnants of the Plague, and finally how Sir Christopher Wren rebuilt the city. With songs galore which children can sing-a-long too.
- Great Fire of London
- The Plague
- The events of 1666
- Samuel Pepys
- Sir Christopher Wren
- St Paul's Cathedral
- Pudding Lane
We learn what caused the Great Fire of London and we learn when the Great Fire of London was - 1666 of course!
But before that we learn how plague had ravaged the city of London in 1665.
We learn how in September 1666 the baker Thomas Farriner started the Great Fire accidentally in his bakery on Pudding Lane. We discover how the fire spread through London burning it to the ground. The Mayor of London tried at first to put the Great Fire out. He did not succeed. Then the King of England took charge of putting the Great Fire out. But he also did not succeed.
Thousands of homes were destroyed and tens of thousands left homeless. But only eight people died.
We sing songs such as London’s burning and Oranges and Lemons. We learn how after the Great Fire was put out Sir Christopher Wren was given the task of rebuilding London. He used this opportunity to build St Paul’s Cathedral and its magnificent Dome. Afterwards a Monument to the Great Fire was also built in London.
We also discover how the unexpected side effect of the Great Fire of London was that the last remnants of the Plague was wiped out.
This podcast episode also works well to supplement the school projects done at Key Stage 1 in primary schools (KS1), part of the national curriculum. Many teachers use these podcasts to help their KS1 and KS2 lessons and parents too with their homework.
March 25, 2020
Sophie (aged 7) is joined by her sister Ellie (aged 4) and between them they help tell the story of how Hannibal crossed the Alps with his elephants to take on the might of the Rome. We learn about the love between Aeneas and Dido eventually tore the ancient world apart. We learn about how Rome had an amazing army with powerful legions. But we also learn that Hannibal learned to beat that army. We learn that there are three types of elephants. And we learn that elephants really don't like trumpets. Oh and we have a great song too!
- The Trojan war
- The Wooden Horse and the Fall of Troy
- The love of Aeneas and Dido
- The Founding of Rome by Aeneas
- How rivalry between Rome and Carthage really came about
- The causes of the Roman Carthaginian wars
- The oath of Hannibal to always be an enemy of Rome
- The power of the Roman Legions
- The invasion of Italy by Hannibal and his Elephants
- Hannibal crosses the Alps with his elephants
- The types of elephants that Hannibal used
- Indian elephants vs African elephants vs Hannibal’s elephants
- The destruction of the Roman armies at Cannae and other battles
- Hannibal’s fateful decision not to march on Rome
- The Roman fightback
- The final battle of Zama
- The fleeing of the Elephants from the sound of the trumpets
- The conquest of Carthage
- The birth of the Roman Empire
If you enjoy this topic you will also like the “Boudicca and the Roman Conquest of Britain” History Storytime Podcast
And you will also enjoy the “Roman Empire: Emperors, People and Mice” History Storytime podcast
Taken together the podcasts cover some of the major moments in Roman history and explain how Roman society worked, how the Roman legions conquered the known world, and how Rome became the greatest empire the world has ever known.
All helpful for teachers looking for materials to support key stage 1 (KS1) and Key Stage 2 (KS2). Children and parents will love how history, nature and music collide.