BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Box of Delights: Five Inch Bather, The (1942)
In the Classroom

Some suggestions on how to use this title in the classroom and where it fits in to the curriculum.


QCA Unit 9: What was it like for children in the Second World War? (Year 3/4)

In Section 5: What did people eat during the war? children learn about food rationing, its causes and the impact this had on everyday life. This film could be shown to support this lesson and show other examples of rationing.

Before watching the film, talk to the class about their bathing habits, do a quick survey to find out who likes to have baths and who prefers showers. Ask a few children who prefer bathing to explain why they like baths and make a class list of the things needed to make a perfect bath (lots of hot water, lots of bubbles etc), then show the children the film.

How would children feel if they could only take a bath in 5 inches of water and take a shower for five minutes? Does the film make the children feel dismayed at the prospect of water rationing, if not why not? What sort of response is the film aiming to provoke? Ask the children to explain why they think the film was made and why one of the producers of the film was a company called Public Relationship Films.

Explain that the other organisation behind the making of the Five Inch Bather was the Ministry of Fuel and Power, why do the children think they wanted to encourage people to use only 5 inches of hot water for bathing during the war? What was happening during the war that was causing the rationing of hot water?

Curriculum links

  • NC History objectives: 2a, 2c, 3a, 4a, 4b, 11b


Primary Framework for Literacy Non-fiction Unit 4: Persuasive texts (Year 4)

If you are studying the Second World War with your Year 4 class you could also use this film to support your Literacy work in Phase 1: Shared reading and familiarisation with the text-type in this unit.

Explain to the children that during the war the government used films like the Five Inch Bather, alongside other forms of media such as posters, to persuade the public to help with the 'war effort'. Divide the class into four groups, re-watch the film and ask one group to identify how either the soundtrack, sound effects, voice-over or the moving images were used to persuade the audience to join with the rationing of hot water (the Focus Questions will help with this). As a class, discuss how sound and moving images act as persuasive devices; how does the film make you feel about water rationing?

Show the children some posters from the war years and compare the film with these posters. What sort of a response are the posters trying to provoke - anger, pity, excitement? Identify the language used and the elements of the written and visual text that provoke this response.

Explain to the children that they are going to design a poster to persuade the public to join in with water rationing. Ask them to choose an image and create a slogan by picking out the strongest images and phrases from Five Inch Bather.

Phase 2-3 of this unit guide children through the process of creating their own movie trailer, you may want to watch some more wartime Public Information Films (COI) and adapt this unit so that your class can work on creating their own short films about another issue presented in one of the wartime posters you have studied.

Some useful films for comparison:

Coughs and Sneezes (1945) A sneezing man with poor hygiene habits is taught the error of his ways.

Eating out with Tommy Trinder (1941) Tommy Trinder extols the virtues of British Restaurants, and urges the public to organise one in their area.

Filling the Gap (1942) The British public is urged to grow their own vegetables at a time of war shortages.

Curriculum links

Primary Framework for Literacy

2. Listening and responding
Compare the different contributions of music, words and images in short extracts from TV programmes.
Investigate how talk varies with age, familiarity, gender and purpose.

7. Understanding and interpreting texts
Explain how writers use figurative and expressive language to create images and atmosphere.

8. Engaging with and responding to texts
Interrogate texts to deepen and clarify understanding and response.

9. Creating and shaping texts
Develop and refine ideas in writing using planning and problem-solving strategies.
Summarise and shape material and ideas from different sources to write convincing and informative non-narrative texts.
Show imagination through language used to create emphasis, humour, atmosphere or suspense.
Choose and combine words, images and other features for particular effects.

11. Sentence structure and punctuation
Clarify meaning and point of view by varied sentence structure using phrases, clauses and adverbials.

12. Presentation
Use word processing packages to present written work and continue to increase speed and accuracy in typing.