Haven’t you ever wondered that? I mean it’s on a different continent after all, and there’s an ocean between us and them. It’s a big ocean.
So, I posed the question to my kids: How did the United States end up in World War 1?
First we had to address the Luisitania. The Luisitania is the sister ship to the Titanic, and it was quite the luxury liner.
The only problem? It was smuggling munitions for Britain while carrying those expensive passengers, and everyone knew it. Germany even printed an ad in all of the New York newspapers warning they were going to sink the ship. Did people listen? NOOOO, only one person canceled their tickets.
And the Germans did what they said, they sank the ship. The American press and media were outraged, “how dare they sink the ship!”
We watched this video together and the kids were outraged and shocked watching the sinking of the ship. I was surprised how much they were upset by it. Princess was almost crying.
So like any good American we wrote a strongly worded letter of protest! Oh the outrage!
Then we learned about the role of journalism in getting us into the war. After the sinking of the Lusitania there were many editorials and articles about the sinking. We talked about the difference between straight journalism, editorials and propaganda.
Can I just say I WANT that dry erase board?
Straight journalism is just the facts, with no attempt to input the writer’s opinion. Honestly this is almost impossible to do because we all have our opinions and we all want to influence opinion somewhat. Sadly I didn’t get a good video of this one.
Editorial. You are blatantly stating your opinion, you are naming names and giving reasons. I did not get a video of this one because Superman outright accused someone else of stealing, he named names. Just like you would in a good editorial.
Propaganda. You are trying to influence what people think, but you’re not letting people know that. Honestly most news today falls into this category on both sides. Democrat, Republican, Conservative, and Liberal, all of them when the reporter writes their story or talks into their microphone you can hear it in their voices and in the words they use.
Propaganda replies on connotative meaning of words. If you looked up the dictionary definition it would be black and white, but if you think about the shades of meaning in how we actually use the word there’s more to it. It relies on descriptive words to give the emotion.
Now if the Lusitania had been the only factor we probably would have stayed out of the war, but then there was the Zimmerman telegram……….
Germany sent a coded telegram to Mexico proposing an alliance and Mexico could take the United States…… Britain intercepted the telegram, decoded it, and that was the end of it. We got into the war.
Other posts in this series or sites you might find useful:
What was it like in the trenches of World War 1?
World War 1 soldier Paper doll
World War 1 activities and simulations
World War 1 explanation videos
I’m gonna share at both of these great history linkies, thanks ladies for hosting every week!
I really like the idea of incorporating letter writing or journaling to express feelings of unhappiness or anxiety regarding a situation encountered in history – what a great way to learn and foster an ability to express how they feel about some of the more unseemly and unjust parts of human history.
I was surprised at how well it worked out. I remember when I was teaching 2nd grade we learned about the American Revolution briefly and the kids enjoyed writing letters to King George to express their outrage.
I have filed this away under ideas for teaching history – I like the comment below about protest signs as well – really great ideas! I always knew history didn’t have to be boring (wish my history teachers growing up had realized that ;)!
This is super cool. I love how you direct the topic but invite all of the kids to participate in ways other than reading textbooks. I’ll be learning from this!
Thanks! It was a lot of fun. I really don’t see why history has to be boring.
Lindsay @ Bytes of Memory says
Great post!! I always wondered why we got involved in WWI.. I think I must have been day dreaming in history class when we went over this!
Or more likely it wasn’t really covered. It always felt like in high school we never really got much past the Civil War, and in college my professor focused too much on their pet projects.
Very interesting, especially for slighter older audience. I wonder sometimes how much we influence political choices of our kids when discussing politics and world events at home.
I am quite sure we do much more than we realize when I’ve heard my kids espousing extreme versions of things I’ve said. I’ve started making sure I clarify on topics that I disagree with the person on that issue, but the person I disagree with might genuinely believe they’re right. Of course inwardly I’m thinking that’s right they are stupidheads for thinking that.
Oooh, I like this!! I can see this cropping up a lot in our homeschool! Letters of protest… the fun we could have!!
It was so much fun! We read a book last year as part of our geography studies that covered the Waynesboro sit ins, and the kids had a blast making protest signs.
I don’t recall learning much about WWI in History in high school and had forgotten why we were involved. I loved how you incorporated the letter writing and even loved the idea of protest signs. Both are great ways to help teach how this happened. Thanks for linking up!
I’m such a big fan of history, I’m going to support as many history link ups as I can, especially when the two I know of are run by friends of mine 🙂
Great learning!! WWI can seem a little more difficult to get a grip on than WWII I think. You have done a great job breaking it down. Thanks.
I wanted to share with you, I read this post and actually got to share this infor with my boys on our trip to D.C. last week. We were at the WWII memorial, and while I knew how we got involved in WWII, I didn’t know how we got in WW I. But when they asked, because I read this, I actually knew the answer! I impressed both them, and my husband. Now they’re interested in learning more about the Lusitaniana (mainly because it was the sister ship to the Titanic). Thanks for the great blog, I appreciate all that you post! 🙂
Tina Gaskins says
Thank you so much for blogging your WWI studies and that nice list of links! We will be getting to WWI in a few weeks, and I have not found much that is well-written and engaging for the kids on WWI.
Your ideas and links will enhance our studies. I truly appreciate it.
I’m so glad it could help you!