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Teaching World War One with History Bombs

Bring World War One to life with our fun and engaging video lessons and classroom activities.

Here’s an overview of our World War One series and how you can use our captivating videos and corresponding materials in your lessons to engage your students and encourage them to critically assess the key questions of this seismic global event. 

Use our downloadable teacher packs alongside our videos for full lesson plans designed to consolidate your students’ understanding and encourage independent critical thinking. These activities can be used at both primary and secondary level.

1.1 History of World War One (in One Take)

Our first video lesson is a high-octane musical tour of the key events of World War One in just 6 minutes!

Covering both the war itself and the lead up to the declaration of war, this video will be sure to captivate your students while giving them a comprehensive and fun overview of the period from the 1914 assassination of Franz Ferdinand to the armistice in November 1918.

The first activity asks students to complete a timeline. This ensures that students understand the chronology events and cement a strong historical foundation on which to build their knowledge, and creates a valuable revision source for later on in the course. 

The second activity asks students to consider the question ‘Why did Germany lose the war?’. The activity sheet presents students with a series of opinions which they must sort into four different categories. This tests students’ skills of analysis and encourages debate. 

The third activity asks students to imagine that they are a film producer. The activity sheet presents them with 16 key events from World War Two, from which they must choose eight that they consider the most important. This engages students in critical analysis of their opinions of the most significant events. 

1.2 Whose Fault Was It?

This video is a news-report style account of the perspectives of each nation in the lead up to war. This introduces students to the different reasons for the outbreak of war, and the powerful alliances and ententes between European nations. 

The first activity, ‘They said what?’, is a straightforward activity that encourages students to consider the different reasons for tension among European nations . They can then decide whether these are long-term, medium-term, or short-term causes. 

The second activity, ‘Blame game’, will consolidate students’ understanding of the causes of the war and decide for themselves who they think is to blame. The activity presents students with a series of arguments and asks them to match them with the correlating nation. 

The third activity is a visual exercise which consolidates students’ understanding of both chronology of events as well as their impact. The activity sheet asks students to put a series of events on a graph which represents dates and perceived tension.

Activity 3: How did European tensions develop?

1.3 The Slide to War 

This video covers the 1914 July Crisis, the key European powers who contributed to the outbreak of war, and demonstrates the powerful result when the web of alliances and ententes were put into action.

The first activity is a vocabulary exercise. This will help students grasp the necessary words required to confidently study the causes of the war. Students can use their activity sheets as handy glossaries after they have completed this activity. 

The second activity asks students to complete a timeline, further consolidating their understanding of chronology. Students can keep the completed flowchart to refer back to later.

The third activity, ‘Dominoes’, pushes understanding of chronology by encouraging students to visualise Europe falling into war and question the inevitability of World War One. Students will complete a diagram of dominoes, and then decide which event was the most significant. You may wish to ask students to hold debates amongst themselves before answering this question.

1.4 Why Did Men Sign Up?

This video is a two-part dramatic re-enactment of men signing up to fight in the war, juxtaposed by the reality of life in the trenches. 

This will introduce students to the reasons men were encouraged to fight and the reasons they did sign up, as well as the reasons volunteer soldiers continued despite the horrors of trench warfare. 

The first activity in this chapter invites the class to consider the first half of the video, considering the question, ‘Why did men sign up to fight?’. Encourage debate, as this will test your students’ analysis skills. 

The second activity focuses on the second half of the video, asking students to note down the different reasons soldiers continued to fight, and assigning them to the corresponding character. 

The third activity is a creative task which encourages students to apply what they have learnt to write a letter home from the perspective of a soldier in the trenches. They should integrate their understanding of the key reasons why soldiers both signed up and continued to fight. This activity will explore how soldiers’ expectations compared to reality and give a voice to the soldier’s experience. 

1.5 Battle of the Somme 

This video presents a debate between the senior officer behind the Somme, General Douglas Haig, and a World War One soldier. This should introduce your students to the Battle of the Somme, with a focus on the staggering facts and figures and an insight into the terrible first day of the battle for British and French troops. 

The first activity asks students to pick out the key arguments and perspectives portrayed in the video. This will consolidate these points in their mind and create a foundation to build upon. 

In the second activity, ask students to imagine they have travelled back in time to the late 1910s, collecting statements about the Battle of the Somme. Students can then organise the statements into different categories of reasons for the failure of the battle. 

The third activity engages student’s creativity by asking them to imagine they are a journalist in 1916 writing a report on the first day of the battle. Deciding first whether they will be writing from a pro- or anti-Haig perspective, they should question popular historical narratives and explore differing narratives.

1.6 Weapons in the Trenches 

This lesson is a Dragon’s Den style video, exploring the different weapons developed by the British to try and break the stalemate during World War One. This introduces students to each piece of new weaponry through three perspectives: practicality, military effectiveness, and cost.

The first activity provides students with an understanding of the defining details of key World War One weaponry by asking students to match the definitions with the correct weapon. Giving students a copy of the video transcript can help with this exercise.

The second activity invites students to create Top Trump cards for four key weapons, a fun and creative way for students to engage with the factual information they have been presented with. Students can even play a round of Top Trumps together when they have finished!

The last activity builds on this, asking students to rank their top four weapons. Encourage your students to consider each weapon’s effectiveness and ineffectiveness at breaking the stalemate.

1.7 World War One Poetry 

This last chapter is split into two parts. Each part covers a famous World War One poem: the first, ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, by Wilfred Owen, and the second, ‘The Soldier’, by Rupert Brooke. 

Students can compete the first activity while watching the videos. The activity asks students to note down the different ideas that each poem presents about World War One. This should highlight the clear distinction between the two poems and the perspective of the poets. 

The second activity helps students further distinguish these perspectives by considering how far they reflected public opinion. Students are presented with a series of opinions and must match these to which poem they most represent. 

The last activity is a diary entry task, asking students to adopt a personal, first-person approach by having them consider the individual experience of the soldiers in the trenches. Students should engage with both what they have learnt and also their own subjectivity and imagination. 


Whether used as a complete course of study, or slotted into your existing lesson plans, our captivating and fun videos and activities are designed to help you bring World War One to life for your students. 

Get full access to this course as well as seven further captivating topics with one of our affordable memberships.

Additionally, you can purchase a print copy of all teaching materials with a full colour World War One Teacher Handbook.

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