Monday, November 9, 2015

World War I Unit Study and Lesson Plan

This unit was shorter than I expected it to be, and we didn't take a ton of pictures, but it was a really interesting topic. I didn't know too much about World War I. I had learned about it in European History classes, but I didn't have a clear picture of what went on and I thought it was mostly just a war over…nothing. Which isn't exactly true. I learned a lot as I read and studied the historical situation in the early 1900s, and I was interested to learn how much of the "modern world"—down to even our kind of pervasive attitude of skepticism and sarcasm—can be traced back to World War I.

Anyway, my pinterest board has some good ideas for a World War I study, and I'll highlight a few of our favorite resources on this post.
We had this book from this library, and it gave us the idea for a War Censor activity. I printed out a letter from a soldier, and the children went through with a black pen and "censored out" the parts that might endanger the soldiers or otherwise prove useful to spies. They had fun doing that.
We really liked this documentary "World War I in Colour." It's amazing how seeing color pictures of the war makes it seem more immediate and real! There are six parts and we found them all on YouTube.

We made paper poppies for Remembrance Day.

This was a good short video about a (statistical) WWI mystery!

These Horrible Histories shows (find clips on YouTube) are pretty funny. Some can be crude, so they're worth previewing first. But the children could not get enough of this song, by Tsar Nicolas, Kaiser Wilhelm, and King George V. They LOVED it. 

Interesting video showing cases of "shell shock."

Here's an animated map of WWI.

We learned about the term "doughboy" and made these World War I Salvation Army doughnuts.

We read several picture books about the 1914 Christmas Truce. I cried and cried through every one of them. Such a sad and touching story! Here's a video about it.

The Zimmerman Telegram was an important factor in the United States' decision to enter the war. Here's a decoding activity we did with it.

We looked at and studied this powerful painting by Sargent.

Here are some recordings of popular music during WWI--songs like "Over There" and "It's a long way to Tipperary."

On the lighter side, we learned about Charlie Chaplin and silent films (one of Chaplin's first movies came out in 1914 and many were popular during the war). We watched some examples. They are SO funny and good. We also particularly like Buster Keaton. Here are some good ideas for movies and books to try on this topic.

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