World War One is a tragic chapter in history. It lasted four years, three months, and two weeks, mobilized 70 million military personnel, affected 13 million civilians, and involved more than 100 countries. That is why it is also called the Great War, and War to End All Wars. Consequently, it’s a mega topic and a highly complex war. But don’t be intimidated: we offer you tips and guidance for teaching this broad topic to your students.
See the fact file below for more information on the World War I Curriculum or alternatively, you can download our 10-page World War I Curriculum worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
Before we start
Below are guide points for teaching WWI. They are:
- (1) Avoid glorifying war. Though nationalism and the ‘glory of war’ was an important factor in WWI, it was still violent conflict. Many people rose to the call for king and country, there were heroic figures, strong leaders, epic battles, and new technology and weapons, but try keep focused on the issues of war, such as its causes, effects and lessons.
- (2) Provide the right context. WWI didn’t happen spontaneously – it built up over years. It’s important to properly set the stage by examining ideas of imperialism and alliances. Major powers in Europe sought to expand their territories and relied on alliances to back each other up. Thus, when Austria-Hungary declared war, a domino effect of alliances were called into effect. The essential question that needs to be answered is, “Why, after one man was assassinated, did the whole world go to war?”
- (3) Avoid Good guys vs Bad Guys comparisons. While Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by a Serbian extremist, think about the circumstances: How was Austria-Hungary affecting Serbia? Similarly, Germany was the first nation to use poison gas in WWI, but they weren’t the only ones. Britain’s Winston Churchill was an advocate of poison gas! The US was also refusing to get involved until the sinking of the Lusitania.
- (4) Highlight the scale and destructiveness of the war. Let’s face it, the war ended in 1918, which is a long time ago for young students. In fact, the last WWI veteran died in 2012. It also occurred in a world with no TV or Internet (radio was still in its infancy, as were airplanes, machine guns, and tanks). Nevertheless, it is considered the first industrialized war, with mass troops, highly destructive weapons, new technologies, and increased mobility. It was also a time of ingenuity: aircraft became militarised, blood transfusions were developed, as was plastic surgery. Nevertheless, it sat on the cusp of an old and new world. And tactics such as attrition warfare and the scale and impact of trench warfare are important topics to discuss. Similarly, while technology was being deployed, 8 million horses were a major feature of WWI.
- (5) Remember and respect the victims. Millions of people all over the world were impacted by WWI. If it wasn’t directly, it was indirectly in the form of humanitarian crises, such as starvation and illness.
- (6) Draw attention to the values that started and ended the war. Toxic ideas of nationalism, secret and public alliances, attitudes of superiority and domination sparked WWI. While values of community, teamwork and international cooperation, courage, optimism and sacrifice showcase the best of humanity in dark times.
- (7) Where possible, personalise the history of WWI. If you have a family history of people affected by WWI, include that in your lessons. For example, a grandparent may have been born at the end of WWI, or perhaps family members immigrated to the US after the war. Failing that, there are many war memorial organizations and online resources that have rich archives of the war and stories told by veterans, “lest we forget”.
- (8) Lastly, explore how WWI affected the world after its conclusion. Women played a crucial role in the war effort and US and UK women were granted the vote. The Roaring 20s was a decade of exuberance following the destructiveness of the war. Communication such as radio reached most people’s households. And, more sinisterly, the blame was laid squarely at the feet of Germany, which fell into economic ruin over the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. This created fertile ground for the emergence and popularity of the far right Nazi party and the rise of Adolf Hitler. In just a few decades, people who experienced WWI (Hitler, Churchill and Stalin) would become leaders in WWII. Another major political event of WWI was the Russian Revolution that saw Tsar Nicholas abdicate and Lenin and the Bolsheviks take power to create the foundations of Communist Russia and later the Soviet Union.
World War I Curriculum Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the World War I Curriculum across 10 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use World War I Curriculum worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the World War One which is a tragic chapter in history. It lasted four years, three months, and two weeks, mobilized 70 million military personnel, affected 13 million civilians, and involved more than 100 countries. That is why it is also called the Great War, and War to End All Wars. Consequently, it’s a mega topic and a highly complex war. But don’t be intimidated: we offer you tips and guidance for teaching this broad topic to your students.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Teaching World War I
- Lesson Plan Template
- Suggested Worksheets
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.