World War I Timeline Activities

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace attended James Madison University has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school social studies in several states around the country.

Use these activities to help middle and high school students better understand the key events and players in World War I. There are opportunities for both individual and group activities in this resource. Updated: 10/24/2019

Understanding World War I

One of the best ways to sort and categorize information in history is through timelines. During or after your studies on World War I, use these activities to help students think critically about the events of the war and reaffirm their understanding of the most important concepts. Depending on the ability of your students to research and work independently, you may want to incorporate these activities in the middle of your studies or at the end of the unit as a review.

Top 10 of World War I (Individual Activity)

For this activity, students will be creating an individual timeline of what they believe to be the most important events from World War I. As this is an individual project, it will look a little different from student to student. This is best incorporated as a review activity because students will be sorting through the history of the war to pick the ten most pivotal events (for younger students, you could pare this down to five events).

For each event a student picks, they should include the date (or date range) of the event, an image to go with it, a title for the event and a description of why this event was important.

Students can complete this on a computer or tablet or using old fashioned pen and paper. If using a computer, there are several websites that will help students set up their timeline.

  • Materials Needed: Computer/ tablet OR paper and writing materials

Timeline by Country (Group Activity)

For this activity, students will be working in small groups to create the story of one country's history during the war. Break your students into groups of three or four assign each group a country. Possible countries include the Ottoman Empire, Germany, Austria-Hungary, France, British Empire, Russia, Serbia, Belgium, the United States, and Japan.

After receiving their assigned country, students will create a timeline that shows the event that led the country to war, the events that happened to the country during the war and how the country was impacted by the war. Different groups will have a different number of events to cover. It is recommended to tell students to pick no more than 12 events (using their critical thinking skills to discern which events were most important).

For each event, students should include a title, date, description, and image. After all the groups have finished their timelines, they should share them with the class. This will help students see both a broad picture of the war and the role of each nation.

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