World War I Timeline: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: David Wilson

David has taught college history and holds an MA in history.

The First World War has influenced history and politics for roughly one hundred years. Over forty different nations fought in Europe, Asia, and Africa from 1914-1918. Read on to learn how World War One (WWI) unfolded and affected the lives of millions.


June 28: Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austro-Hungarian Empire is assassinated by Serbian nationalists, or independence fighters.

July 28: Austro-Hungarian Empire declares war on Serbia. Like a single domino falling over, this results in many more European nations declaring war on the enemies of their allies, which are countries that partner together, often in war. (By August 6, Austria-Hungary and Germany together went to war against against France, Great Britain, and Russia.)

August 4: Germany invades France through Belgium. This move, called the Schlieffen Plan, results in most of the fighting of World War One (WWI) taking place in northern France.

August 26-30: German forces attack Russia in eastern Europe. Germany wins a major victory at the Battle of Tennenburg. This battle reveals the weakness of Russia and the strength of Germany.

September 15: German, French, and British armies in France find themselves in a stalemate, where neither side is winning. Everyone digs protective trenches, and the area between each trench is called 'No Man's Land.' For the next four years, most of WWI is fought in No Man's Land.

Soldiers in WWI Trench
Soldiers in WW1 Trench

October 31: Japan enters the war by capturing a German-held city in China called Tsingtao (pronounced sing-tow).

December 25: Soldiers on both sides sing Christmas carols. They walk to No Man's Land to find their enemies, and instead of fighting, they exchange gifts and even play soccer. This 'Christmas Day Truce' is a rare moment of peace.


February 4: Germany uses submarines to try and create a blockade, a surrounding that no one can enter or exit, of any ships heading to Great Britain.

April 25: A force of Australian and New Zealander soldiers begin to attack a region in Turkey called Gallipoli. The attack turns out to be a disaster, and after eight months they retreat.

May 7: A German submarine sinks the ship Lusitania, which had many Americans onboard. The U.S. nearly enters the war.

September 15: British soldiers attack using poison gas.


February 21: The Battle of Verdun begins. It continues for the rest of the year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

May 31: German and British warships fight at the Battle of Jutland, the only sea battle of the war, but neither side wins.

July 1: The Battle of the Somme begins, and the first tank of the war is used by the British. At first, it isn't very effective.

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