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For Teachers: Tips On How You Can Make World War 1 Lessons Fun

Are you getting ready to dust off your old World War 1 Lesson Plans for another round of teaching the Great War? How many years have you used this lesson? Are you going to be excited to come to school to teach it? Are your students going to be excited to come to your class to learn about World War I? The answers are probably no to both. If you’re not excited it’s fairly easy to predict that students won’t be excited either.

History Simulation Gaming

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way for students to experience the First World War instead of just listening to you talk about it? has created some very hands on lesson plan activities that are designed to increase student engagement and create student interest in World War 1. Students are assigned the roles of leaders of countries involved in the 1st World War. Each country has a standing army and a schedule of reserves that are activated by mobilization. Some countries even have navies that can do battle with other navies and can transport troops from one region to another. Now you might ask: how does this not just turn into a quest for world domination or a game of Risk? Each country has a set of objectives that were the objectives of those countries in World War 1. The objectives are part of the student’s grades! Students are constantly negotiating and conducting diplomacy with other countries based on their strategy to achieve those objectives. With’s online platforms, a lot of these tasks are automated like mobilizing troops, calculation of sea and land battles. Troops and navies are represented by numbers and the country’s flags on the map. The teacher can move troops into a zone and double click on the zone- activating the battle.

When the simulation ends, student interest is a lot higher as to what actually happened in the war. The discussion is better and more engaged. also has a complete set of Keynote and PowerPoint presentations that get students engaged in learning. I don’t think you can underestimate the impact that getting students interested in a subject has. In February of 2018, using periods 1-5 of my World History sections at IFAHS i can show you the comparison of scores and the factors related to them. In the previous unit, we studied 2 sections of Ch. 24 “Nationalist Revolutions Sweep The West”. We followed that up with the World War 1 Simulation. When the simulation was over, we studied what really happened in the war, going over 4 sections of Chapter 29 “The Great War”. So we are talking about covering twice as much material on the test! You can see the results in the chart and decide for yourself if participating in a simulation increased learning:

Why and how to teach kids about World War 1

World War I or otherwise known as the War to End All Wars, started in July, 1914 and ended in November, 1918. But it would not end just there. This was just the beginning to a long journey of reform and recovery. World War I started when a Serbian terrorist, Gavrilo Princip, shot an Austro-Hungarian archduke, Franz Ferdinand, in Sarajevo, Bosnia. How could one single loss of life, have such a global impact? This is what kids need to know.

Many were shocked when the start of the war broke out. It seemed to just come “out of the blue.” But was that really the case? Some believe that the seed of war was planted long before that. So what is an effective way to educate kids on the timeline of events and the war itself? This is where the World War I lesson plans come into play. Rather than having kids funneled into a classroom listening to lectures, taking notes off a screen, and reading chapter after chapter in a dull textbook, why not create small scale reenactment? Fortunately enough, that has already been done.

The World War I simulation is similar to that of a game. It includes events, stories, and challenges that were faced within the timeline, similar to the real life event. The main focus of the simulation is the interactive map that is projected for the whole class, in which the teacher controls. The map allows the students to see their country, plus others as well. The map is color coordinated to show who is allied with each other and who is neutral, also showing each countries number of troops.

Throughout the simulation the students are informed to the very last day of the war what they are supposed to accomplish. Students, usually in pairs, are assigned to a specific country. The kids are then given a binder with a set of rules, guides for their army, information specific to their given country, and a list of goals to complete before the last round of the simulation. Kids are not only expected to be active in the simulation in class, by participating in the rounds, but they are also expected to do a bit of their own research outside of class.

The students should be doing their own research outside of class to have knowledge of the real life event. When the kids do this it gives them the upper hand in the simulation and by having background knowledge you know what you should be trying to do and avoid, similar to that of the real life event. Rather than just going in blind and being completely lost. Kids are also required to keep a daily journal of their information/findings, what happened within the simulation that day, and their own thoughts and feelings regarding the simulation.

History Simulation Gaming

The World War I lesson plan is meant to be an interesting and interactive time in the classroom. It allows for students to have a healthy amount of competition and fun, while still learning the importance of the topic. When simulation time rolls around the corner, not only does it get the class excited about the upcoming unit, but the whole school is on the edge of their seats to hear about the events taking place. Simulation time is fun for all students and something everyone looks forward to.

5 Stunning Facts About Civil War For Kids

North or South. Union or Confederate. Freedom or slavery. What do all of these things have in common? You guessed it…the American Civil War. The American Civil War start was in 1861 lasted until 1865. The United States was divided between North and South and a war was fought all across the United States. The journal, “Live The Adventure,” says that there are three main reasons why the Civil War is something very important for kids to understand. The first of the three reasons is that the Civil War was perhaps the greatest event in our country’s history. It is believed to be one of the single most important events because it completely reshaped our nation. America was divided between the North and the South, the biggest difference between the two “sides” being the practice of slavery. But according to the “Live The Adventure” journal, the second reason kids need to know the events of the Civil War is to understand that the Civil War was not only about slavery. When most people think of the Civil War, they think of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Yes, this was a very important and key feature of the Civil War but the conflict of the Civil War did not start because of slavery but rather because of states wanting stronger federal rights and then becoming increasingly angry they were not gaining those rights. When the North wanted to abolish slavery, that is when each territory, North and South, really started to become angry. This anger lead to the start of the Civil War. The third reason that the knowing the Civil War for kids is important is because it gives us an insight as how beliefs and convictions motivate people. As a kid learning about the Civil War, I would always question why so many people had to die at the expense of a disagreement. By studying the Civil War, I have come to understand the role that beliefs and convictions can make when fighting a war. Understanding what caused the Civil War to happen provides many, children and adults, with a deeper understanding of how to better avoid the things that lead to such a divide in our nation.
Once the three main reasons as to why learning the Civil War is something that is imperative to understand is understood, we can look at the true history of the Civil War and even come to understand some stunning facts about it.

One interesting fact about the Civil War was that one-third of the soldiers that fought for the Union Army were immigrants and every one in ten was African American. During the Civil War, the African American soldiers fighting with the North actually refused their salaries for 18 full months in an effort to protest being paid lower wages than that of the white soldiers. The Union Army was fighting for freedom and equality of the slaves being kept in the South, usually African Americans and yet, they refused to pay their soldiers equal amounts. I think that this is another example of the third reason as to why learning the Civil War is important. Seeing that there was still segregation in the North, even when those soldiers were fighting to abolish that, shows us what beliefs and convictions about certain people can do. Another surprising fact about the Civil War is that even before the war started, Abraham Lincoln pushed to send freed slaves abroad. Even before the push to free the slaves, Lincoln was pushing to free the slaves. But because of the push to free the slaves and territorial disagreements, a war swept the United States. Another surprising fact about this war is that more men died in the Civil war than any other American conflict. That includes WWI, WWII, Vietnam War, etc. Knowing and understanding what happened during the Civil War is a very important thing to learn. By understanding, we as a nation, can better avoid any conflicts within our country that would lead to something like this.

WWI Simulation Germany

World War I Simulation

Germany 1 1913

We are planning to take over France, the easiest way to get to paris is through Italy. Speaking of Italy, we want to make an alliance with them so it is easier for us to get to France without anyone getting killed on the way. Our next target place is Russia. They have a strong military so we have to be careful that we don’t get too confident in what our abilities are. We are at an alliance with the Ottoman Empire so they can also help take over Russia. On the way one of us might as well take over Bulgaria so they are out of the way. Paris or bust!!

Germany 1 1914

We agreed with the Ottoman Empire that they are going to take over Bulgaria so we don’t have to worry about them trying to attack us. Once they took it over we sent our navy to attack the Russian navy and we came out victorious! (That’s a shocker.) We also took over part of Russian land and we surprisingly came out victorious in that battle too. I don’t know how they thought they could stand a chance but France thought they could take over part of Germany and we ended up winning that fight also. Hopefully now that we know we can be victorious over France, we will be able to take over Paris and conquer France. That is the next goal we are trying to accomplish. Germany’s two main goals are to take over France and Russia. Oh, and not that this is a big deal, but while we were at it, we decided to take over Belgium too.

Germany 1 1915

Now that France took back their capital we don’t really want to go after France. Our main goal is to close in on Russia with the Ottoman Empire. I think that if we get enough troops between the two countries we should be able to be victorious. We have to watch out for our navy because the British has a good navy and they could attack anytime. We are waiting to see what strategy Serbia and Greece are going to go with because we want to take them over also. When Russia declared war on us they used poison gas and we didn’t, but we still were victorious. You can surrender anytime now Russia!

Germany 1 1916

The British took out our navy which wasn’t a huge issue but it isn’t the best thing that can happen. The country that is the most concerning at this point is Great Britain. Especially since the United States joined the Allied Powers they are more intimidating. We have to keep a good military and try to keep as many troops as we can. We declared war on Russia and they gave up and they only sent 1,000 troops, we had an easy defeat. We also declared war on Romania and even when they sent all their troops and used poison gas we were still victorious. Russia finally surrendered because they knew they didn’t have a chance to take over the Central Powers. So now we don’t have to worry about them anymore. The Central Powers pretty much want to take over all of Europe so we thought we might as well get Serbia and Romania out of the way. The British, French, and the Italian navy are all moving towards Southern France so they can come together. The U.S. joined the Allied Powers this year after being neutral for two years.

Germany 1 1917

There was a lot of navy movement from the Allied Powers and they are all finally starting to come together. We moved our U boats from the Baltic Sea zone to the North Sea zone to get closer to Great Britain. Even though Russia didn’t have any power left, the Central Powers still took out their navy. Just because. The Allied Powers teamed up against Germany to get Belgium back but it wasn’t a big deal because we don’t really need Belgium. All of the Allied Powers are finally closing in on the Central Powers after three years, and we will be ready for them! All the countries in the Central Powers still has plenty of troops to defend ourselves, so I think we will be ok.  Bring it on Allied Powers!!

Germany 1 1918

The Allied Powers took back so of their territory like Belgium and Libya. We tried to take over French North Africa but the Allied Powers were victorious. France took over part of Germany but that’s ok because in the end the Central Powers won the war. And besides that we took over some of France so we were kind of even anyway. Germany ended pretty good because we still had quite a bit of troops left after we defended ourselves from three other countries. We worked well with our allies and we couldn’t have won the war without them. We are just glad we took over most of Europe because that was our main goal.

WWI Simulation Italy Journal

WWI Simulation

Italy period 1 1913

We have come up with a plan which is to stay nurtural until we can South Tyrol from Austria Hungary. We also planed to make alliances with France, Germany, Austria Hungary and Russia and that plan work wonderfully. As I look around most of the other countries have formed alliances as well. Austria Hungary’s Arch duke was assonated and Austria Hungry blamed it on Siberia. Siberia delivered a speech saying that they were not responsible for the assassination of

Austria Hungary’s Arch Duke.

Its bad enough that Russia has started a war with Germany. Seeing this I started thinking that at this point more bad things might be on there way for the rest of the countries especially Italy. One of the things I am worried about is what would happen if one of our alliances gets defeated in battle? I don’t know if we have a backup plan for that, but if i sense that is about to happen I’ll talk to the higher ups to see what they think.  I really hope that nothing to horrible will happen to Italy.

Italy period  1 1914

We had just learned that Germany might be planing to betray us, this makes staying neutral harder for us. Our plan now is for everyone in our alliance to move in on Germany and hopefully have the Russians cut through the Austrians and try get them to the Germans. Austria Hungary has declared war on us so we had to come up with a plan on how we can win the war against them. Unfortunately We lost the battle against Austria Hungary and half of our country was overtaken by them.

It is really unfortunate that half of our country has been taken over. I kinda wish that we did move our troops so that we could have possibly prevented the current outcome form happening. Hopefully this will be the only major bad thing that come our way because I don’t want to see country being completely over taken. I also hope that none of the other countries in our alliance will turn their back on us. I really hope that everything will turn out ok in the end.

 Italy 1 period 1915

We were unable to move again because our capital was taken over by Austria Hungary in just the last year. The only objective that we have no is to develop an alliance with the allies. We had already made an alliance with the Allies in 1914. Hopefully we are able to form with them again otherwise, it will be the complete end for our country. At this point we are at a critical risk of losing everything if we don’t make an alliance with the Allies.

I’m up for this plan a hundred percent but at the same time I’m worried that this plan won’t work or that it will backfire on us. I also don’t want to see any of our allies get destroyed by the other countries. The one country that I hope doesn’t target any of our alliance members is Germany because we had heard that they were going to betray us and I still believe that is going to happen.

 Italy 1 period 1916

Once again we can’t do anything  right this moment. Part of Russia was taken over by Germany. We have no plan because we don’t have any land. We had received word that Russia had surrendered and lost 1/3 of their population, 1/3 of its agricultural land and 3/4 of its industries. At this point we don’t know what to do or whats going to happen.  I had just learned that Great Britain is going to try and take over the ottoman empire.

I hope that it will work because we want our allies to gain as much land as possible then, we might have a chance of getting our country back. I can’t believe that Russia had surrendered because we had now lost one of our allies. At this point I hope we don’t lose anymore of our alliance because if we do then we could loose our country and possibly everything else. Hopefully all of us can come up with a plan so that doesn’t happen. If we don’t have a plan soon then we might just loose the war.

 Italy period 1 1917 

We had just found out that from the Zimmerman telegraph that Germany is trying to get help from Mexico. We had decided to move our navy to the atlantic I hope we had made the right choice. It looks like all of our allies are moving their navies to the Atlantic. Russia had went into war and lost half of their land. I really don’t want any of our allies losing more land because if  they don’t lose land then there might be a chance to get our country back.

I hope that Great Britain can come up with a plan to save Russia and us. One of the things I thought of is that we should form an alliance with the United States. If we did that Then we might have a chance of getting our own country back. I talk to the higher ups about that. I hope we can get our own country back in our hands.

 Italy period 1 1918

Great Britain (one of our allies) sent some U.S. troops over to France. With some help from Great Britain the Allied powers were able to win a battle against Austria Hungary. With the help from our allies we will be able to win more battles. Germany had just wiped out all of our troops and our alliances troops. I thought things couldn’t get any worse that it already but, it turns out things have because of what just happened.

I don’t think theres not much more that we or our alliance can do. The only thing that could possibly turn this around is if one of the other countries loses some of there own troops in battle. I hope that we will be ok and be able to get back in the war. I am still worried about what our alliance is going to do with the remaining troops that they have. I hope everything will work out in the end.