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Favorite WWI resources for young children

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You ladies are always so helpful, so I’m coming here first!

We’re about halfway through SOTW 2 but my boys want to take a break to study WWI this summer . . . and I’m rolling with it. 😎 They love history — thanks, SWB! — but they’re still little. They’re finishing up 3rd and 1st grade now.

Do you have any favorite resources for young kids interested in WWI?

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If you can find a book about Stubby the dog they might like that. My kids did. I’ve seen a couple of fictionalized novels (from the dog’s POV) as well as nonfiction books. Sorry I can’t remember titles.

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War Game is very sweet and sad:
https://www.amazon.com/War-Game-Michael-Foreman/dp/1857937139/

I have to be honest... it's not a war I'd think of doing with a first grader. The horrific cruelty was captured really well on film and photos. The backstories are all tragically pointless. The ending is sad. There was no greater ideological point to focus on like the American Revolution or WWII. It's a tough one.

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WW1 changed things, in the USA and abroad. The bulk of the best children's public domain literature was published just before, during, and just after WW1. To skip the war entirely leaves the literature without important context. This is only as significant as the amount of this type of literature used, I guess.

Ideological points is an interesting discussion. They can differ for different people.

The principle approach of history is an interesting example. There are only about a dozen key periods and they are studied every year, with a very rigid worldview of a linear history tightly focused on a few principles. On their very short list, the Bible printed in English is a key point. It is top 10 significance to them, but of no importance to some modern non-Christians.

I don't know how to skip WW1. But I guess that is in context to my world and my belief system. It happened. It changed things. Things that matter more to some people than others. With my Mennonite background, the mass emigration of the Hutterite colonies is a significant event that still affects people that I care about.

I am having trouble finding the exact dates and people involved, but the USA government made promises to the Anabaptists before they made the choice to move here. Promises that were not kept and that came to a head in WW1. Anabaptist history charts their martyrs as the backbone of their history programs. WW1 must be in the top 3 events for all the different denominations.

Hutterite Martyrs of 1918

https://anabaptistwiki.org/mediawiki/index.php?title=Hutterite_Martyrs_of_1918

Of the many accounts of war resistance during the First World War, there are few more harrowing than the story of the four Hutterites who were imprisoned in Fort Leavenworth in 1918. 

By 1874, most of the Hutterites had moved to South Dakota and begun new communities, or “colonies.” For forty-five years they lived in relative peace. But that peace was shattered by Wilson’s Conscription Act, and by the summer of 1918, four Hutterites living in South Dakota had been drafted into the Army against their will.

But the deaths of the two Hofer brothers could not be so easily forgotten, and by the end of the year, the great majority of Hutterite colonies had emigrated to Canada to escape further persecution – including vandalism by their neighbors because of their refusal to buy war bonds.

Edited by Hunter
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I call the shots where so much of our homeschooling is concerned. When my kids express an interest in studying a specific topic, I try to say yes. So we are going to “do” WWI to some degree. It may not be much more than a few picture books, a read-aloud, a recipe, and a museum trip. Certainly not in-depth by anyone’s measure.

Thanks for the suggestions and the caution — I’m grateful for them both!

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I think if I were covering ww1 with my current first grader, I'd focus on the idea that people thought this was a war that would end war, but then at the end, the winners wanted things to be "fair" and punished the losers so much that they made people angry and resentful and set things up for the next war. A lot of kids that age, mine included, want stories to have morals, and I think that's one that my kids could relate to (I'm always reminding them that "fair" is not always a good goal) and would help with their broader understanding of history, despite being simplified. Just my thoughts.

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15 hours ago, xahm said:

I think if I were covering ww1 with my current first grader, I'd focus on the idea that people thought this was a war that would end war, but then at the end, the winners wanted things to be "fair" and punished the losers so much that they made people angry and resentful and set things up for the next war. A lot of kids that age, mine included, want stories to have morals, and I think that's one that my kids could relate to (I'm always reminding them that "fair" is not always a good goal) and would help with their broader understanding of history, despite being simplified. Just my thoughts.

I agree; that understanding (the actions taken during and after WW I led directly to WW II) is one of the big takeaways for WW I. WW II is its “sequel” in a very cinematic sense - the events at the end are setting up what will come. The “origin story” for Hitler begins in WW 1.

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There is more than one story about the Christmas Truce. This one might be a bit older than your dc? Your library may have it.

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