One of the things I want my kids to understand when we study wars is war is sometimes necessary, but it is not glorious. That is a hard thing to teach to young boys.
After all this is a common sight with my boys, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I want them to grow up and want to protect, that is a natural instinct. But, you also want your boys to know when it is right and when it is wrong, and when to walk away from a fight.
So we simulated trench warfare, so they can find out what was it like in the trenches of World War 1. Here’s what you’ll need: as many pillows as you can get, socks or bean bags, nerf guns.
First take some socks and roll them up to simulate mortars. This could be why I haven’t been able to find socks for the past 2 weeks, I will blame it on this history lesson.
Next take all those pillows you grabbed and build up your trench. I set a 5 minute time limit. Originally I was going to have the kids build trenches in our backyard for their army guys and fight with that, but we got a big rainstorm, so it was all mud. Nevermind that plan.
Split into two teams, defenders and attackers. Defenders get the mortars, and attackers will be charging the trench. This lets you understand what it’s like from both sides.
To make it more like the mortars being fired, the defenders had to throw their mortars facing backwards. When they ran out of mortars they could turn around and shoot their Nerf guns.
Here’s what we discovered:
1. It’s hard to hit your target with mortars, but it does make the attackers more wary because they don’t know when they’ll be hit.
2. It’s hard to take a trench. You will suffer a lot of casualties. Our simulations never successfully managed it.
3. Guns are accurate, and if you have a good supply of bullets, you will kill your opponents.
4. Not all guns are accurate. One of our guns was the ball shooter, it was not as accurate, and did not have as many bullets. That is a disadvantage.
After we talked through what we thought about the simulation, I printed off some of the pictures, and the kids all wrote about what they learned.
I loved Princess’ sentence: War is scary. I did not like being shot at.
I think that sums up what most soldiers would say pretty darn well.