The War to End All Wars, that’s how everyone talked about World War 1 when it happened. You could practically see the capital letters when it was said. And yet, that’s not what World War 1 was. It was just practice for our next World War a generation later. I’m not too sure the right lessons were learned from that war. My kids sure learned a lot from our World War 1 Unit, and I hope they learned some of the lessons our world did not learn. It’s a fascinating time, the world is full of new technologies, there are new ideas and theories running all over, but no one knows how it will all shake out.
(This World War 1 post is sponsored by Candlewick Press, they write some of my favorite historical books as well as the Judy Moody books and the Spark Readers, I frequently find their books in my library bin though I don’t check out their Brand New Readers or the Read and Wonder books as often, though they were frequent stars when I taught early elementary in public school, but as always my opinions are my own)
World War 1 unit resources
There are almost no picture books or anything really written about World War 1, part of why I was so excited to find these books from Candlewick Press on their Pinterest page (I’m checking their boards for World War 2 books right now), my usually well-stocked library had pretty much no picture books, and most of the non-fiction books were more of the “military history” type.
For the book descriptions, I’m trying to walk a very delicate line here. Most of the books we used for this unit are picture books, and so have a short plot, and the emotional depth of the book would be compromised by my saying too much, but at the same time I don’t want you to be surprised…
- Archie’s War Scrapbook– this was our spine, it’s told from the point of view of a tween boy in England, and is told in a super fun comic book style. This was my very favorite of these books, and if you have sensitive kids is the only one I would recommend (the others might get too emotional, you need to read them for yourself to decide what your child can handle).
- The Donkey of Gallipoli– great picture book about the Battle of Gallipoli, which I still cannot pronounce. It follows the story of a medic who rescues a donkey and then used that donkey to rescue other soldiers. Of the three emotional picture books, this is the least emotional. This is also based off a true story.
- Midnight– the story of a rancher turned soldier who brings his horse over to fight in the Great War. I especially liked this story because, and The Donkey of Gallipoli because both of them are true stories, and in the afterword there are actual testimonies and sometimes pictures from the actual soldiers. If your child is an animal lover this one is going to be a difficult story for them because the horse does die.
- Once a Shepherd– I’m just going to tell you right now, you will cry when you read this book, I bawl like a baby even after reading it several times. It follows the story of a shepherd from his marrying his wife, her sewing his great coat (from the wool of his sheep), to the war, and then back to his family. The illustrations are perfect to convey the emotion, but not overwhelming considering the topic.
- The Great War– This was to provide extra information and the idea of the time. It’s a collection of short stories. Each of the authors was given an artifact and asked to write a short story from it. I had my kids choose short stories with in the book to read, and they all enjoyed them, but they are emotional.
- Silver Donkey and Without Warning are both novels set in the time, which I have, but did not use, it would have been too much reading for the kids for my purposes
These books are the inspiration for many of the activities we did during our World war 1 unit and form the bulk of what we used.
I realized as I showed the kids Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I was a lot more influenced by that movie than I realized.
What’s coming in this World War 1 unit
- How did World War 1 start?
- Simulate Trench Warfare in your backyard
- Create a World War 1 soldier helmet
- Create a World War 1 nurse’s hat
- Write a comic inspired by World War 1
- How did World War 1 end? (still coming needs more research)
- What are the consequences of World War 1? (still coming needs more research)
Some of these posts are ones I’ve written before, I wrote about our trench warfare simulation before, but we did an entirely new version of trench warfare, which you’ll have to wait and see what happened (or if you check out the videos on my Facebook page, you can find the activity, wear clothes that can be stained).
UPDATE: Win books from Candlewick Press and a discount!
If you’ve got an early reader who is just starting chapter books you will want to win these Judy Moody books. They’re a great early reader series, and one I wish I’d found back when Princess was little.
25% off with promo code CANDLEWICK at checkout, just don’t blame me if you go broke buying awesome books.