A few weeks ago in a blogging group, we got to talking about outside learning for the summer. Y’all Texas summer is hot, like it was over 100 last week for several days. Instantly I knew whatever I volunteered had to be outside, and then I remembered this World War 1 trench warfare lesson from last year (from our World War 1 unit) and KNEW I needed to share it for summer learning. Especially since I was thinking of inviting a mob of kids over to recreate it in a month or so. It screams summer fun.
Now back to the original introduction:
When we talk about World War 1, the most iconic and remembered idea is the trenches. We’ve heard about trench warfare and the months it took to move the lines even a few feet. It’s hard to fully understand how difficult this time was without a true understanding of trench warfare. I set out to give the kids an idea of what trench warfare was like for our history lesson with this trench warfare simulation.
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Inspiration book for our Trench Warfare Simulation: Once a Shepherd
I will tell you right now, Once a Shepherd* is the hardest to read, and every time I’ve read it, I get to the end and bawl like a baby. It’s also fictional, which in some small way helps.
Once a Shepherd* follows a shepherd as his new wife makes him a coat from the wool he’s sheared, and the letters he writes as he’s at war, and what it’s like in the trenches.
It’s very simple, only a sentence or two every page, and the illustrations are gorgeous watercolors, but the ending is sad.
*****It is very important you read this book before you read it to your kids.*****
Supplies needed for trench warfare simulation
Giant tub of water, unsweetened Kool-aid packets*, sponges*, super soakers* (we were short on weapons because for some strange reason no one sells squirt guns in January and I forgot to order early enough to get them in the mail), cardboard boxes (the people at Sams thought we were quite hilarious grabbing all of the boxes that would even somewhat fit in our cart)
*******Very important, wear clothes you are okay with them being stained because that is very likely to happen********
Trench Warfare Simulation
We ran through this several times because everyone wanted to be in the trenches, and someone had to be the attackers.
First, fill a giant tub full of water, and then dump in your Kool-Aid packets. I know people who have used this method to dye fabric, so I am quite serious when I say wear clothes you can get stained.
Dump your sponges into the tub of dyed water, and fill your super soaker.
Now set up some ground rules:
- NO headshots. I got a face full of the dye and it was quite painful. We had to call a temporary truce while I washed my eyes out.
- Once you’ve been hit by a sponge or a gun you are out. You cannot keep attacking.
- Set a time limit for each round so everyone can have a turn to be the defender or the attacker.
Once you’ve set up your ground rules, it pretty much becomes a free for all. There’s lots of yelling and screaming as people start madly running at each other. It’s really rather intense.
Unfortunately, our trench warfare simulation had to end early as Superman accidentally stepped on the tub of dyed water breaking it, and I didn’t have more Kool-Aid to make another batch.
In retrospect, we did not need as big of a tub of water as I created, but it sure was a lot of fun to try.
More ideas for World War 1
Want some more fun summer learning or water fun?
I’ll have to add those in later because most of them don’t have featured images, but there’s a lot of water games