UKEdMag: 26 First World War Lesson Ideas For Schools

13) Basic Training

You no longer teach PE. Now it is basic training. New recruits in were first put through three months of basic training. Take your young recruits through a training regime using some real examples of training sessions from the First World War. The aim of basic training was: to build up physical fitness and confidence; instil discipline and obedience (sound appealing?!); and teach the fundamental military skills necessary to function in the army. This could include marching, assault courses and hiking. See a real training video from the US army on YouTube at

15) Classroom Invasion

Plan the invasion of a ‘rival’ class. Using maps of your school, intelligence from look-outs and information intercepted by the teacher about the class, write a detailed invasion plan as a piece of instructional writing. The plan must then be sent in secret to all of your army using methods from the day. However, probably best not to carry out the invasion. You don’t want to interrupt a spelling test!

16) Scaling the Trenches

Create a collaborative accurate scale model of a trench system where the pupils work in groups to research and build a section of trench [ordered by high command, of course] which will slot together with models for other groups to create a whole trench system. Make clear that they are creating a replica, not a piece of art and historical accuracy is paramount. Models could include real mud or clay, wooden craft sticks for wooden planks and supports, and barbed wire. See one possible design at

17) Fight Them On The Beaches

Unless you have an impressive school sandpit available, you will need to travel to a beach. Create a two sections of trench s deep as possible using shovels to show how time consuming and difficult this would have been, especially when under fire.

18) Triangle Letters

During the war, people sent letters folded into triangles because of an envelope shortest. Folding the paper in this way meant the message was a little more private and so the address could be easily seen. Write your own triangle letters from the trenches writing about your experience on the front lines.

19) Shhhh!

Letters to and from home were censored during the First World War. Many reasons have been given for this, but the main one is to keep up morale, both in the trenches and on the home front. Your pupils have the tricky task of censoring letters from the trenches, either using copies of the triangle letters from above, or using a letter provided by the teacher. What will they omit and why?

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About @ICTmagic 780 Articles
Martin Burrett is the editor of our popular UKEdMagazine, along with curating resources in the ICTMagic section, and free resources for teachers on UKEd.Directory

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