Trench Warfare Lesson Plan

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Take your students on a journey back in time to the trenches of World War I with out video lesson. Have students create models of World War I trenches, and consider related lessons and suggestions for supplementary activities.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain trench warfare
  • describe the layout of and conditions within a trench
  • create a model of an actual World War I trench


1.5 to 2 hours


  • Copies of two different World War I trench diagrams (an image search of 'World War I trench diagram' will yield results)
  • Modeling clay in various colors

Curriculum Standards


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.


Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.

Key Vocabulary

  • Trench
  • Trench warfare
  • No man's land
  • Stalemate


  • Play the video lesson Trench Warfare During WWI: Definition, Facts & Conditions.
  • Pause at 0:35. Ask students: What must it have been like to exist in those dark and damp conditions? Discuss this briefly as a class.
  • Continue playing the video lesson through the end.
  • Define and discuss the key terms as a class.


  • When the video lesson has finished, break the students up into two groups.
  • Give each group a World War I trench diagram.
  • Have students work together in their teams to recreate the trench diagram using the modeling clay. They should also use the Internet to conduct research on the battles that took place at their unique site. Using this information, they can mold the clay to recreate the battles in terms of soldiers, weaponry, conditions and location.
  • When both groups have finished creating their models of the trenches, ask them to describe their models to the class, presenting their findings in the process.

Discussion Questions

  • Did landscape determine the type or size of the trench?
  • Did the use of trenches reduce casualties in combat?
  • Are trenches still used in modern warfare?


  • Show the class one of the many cinematic depictions of trench warfare in World War I.
  • Have students research actual World War I soldier testimonies regarding their experiences in the trenches.

Related Lessons

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