Life in the Trenches {World War I}

Life in the Trenches

Life in the trenches was like nothing the soldiers had ever experienced before. ‘Digging in’ as it was called was a fairly new phenomenon. But living in the mud and squalor surrounded by giant cat-sized mice become wearisome very quickly. The young men had signed up to fight for their country and believed that excitement and bravery would follow. However, they soon found themselves knee high in wet mud, with dead bodies all around. And they began to wonder just what this war was all about, and whether they were making any tangible difference at all.

Life in the Trenches: Resources

I continued to use our two main text books, both of which had chapters about trench war-fare:

The read-alouds were My Story: The Trenches and Dear Jelly. Both described life in the trenches. The first is written from the perspective of a young engineer who lay the communication cables along the trenches to allow telephone contact between the different trenches. Dear Jelly is a non fiction book containing real letters written by two brothers to their sisters, whilst they fought on the front line. Both books added a great deal to our studies.

Life in the Trenches

The two picture books the girls read were also helpful at allowing them a peak into the horrors of the trenches but without scaring them. Both books are thoughtfully written and beautifully illustrated:

My online go-to has been Twinkl. This educational website has lots of information and activities on every subject under the sun. We used their trenches power point, an interactive guide to a trench, a trench labelling activity, and a 3D model of a trench.

Life in the Trenches: Artifacts

Life in the Trenches

Try to ignore the fact that I photographed the map upside down! These were fascinating to look at and read. Trenches, although new, became organised very quickly. Every soldier was issued with a trench digging tool and book with extremely specific instructions of the layout and how to dig a trench.

Life in the Trenches: The Western and Eastern Frontline

During the Great War, there were two main frontlines – the Eastern frontline and the Western frontline. The Western frontline was situated within France and ran parallel (approximately) to the borders of France. This front was fairly static throughout the war, moving small distances towards inland France to then only retreat back. The Eastern frontline was very changeable and covered large distances over the course of the war. We focused on the frontline at the beginning of the war for map purposes.

I marked the approximate location of the trenches on the front line so the girls could paper mache the trenches onto our map:

Here they are creating the trenches:

Life in the Trenches

And a close up of both fronts:

Our map so far, showing the alliance system in action and both trench frontlines:

Life in the Trenches: Creating a Trench Scene

This was a fun activity I got from Amazon. It allowed the girls to create their own trench narrative. They thoroughly enjoyed doing this!

And, added many sound effects along the way…

Exploring the Trenches

First we looked at the 3D model online and interactive model online from Twinkl (which I really recommend as a supporting resource for literally any subject):

Next, I had the girls label a trench just before the weekend, and asked them to think about how we would recreate a model of a trench:

Lastly, I joined two different resources from Twinkl to create a really fun way for the girls to write a diary entry about living in the trenches:

Making a Model of a Trench

I wrote about how we made our Trench Model on Monday. This was a great activity which really made the girls think about what it might have been like to live in a trench:

A close up:

We have just finished learning about the first Christmas the world spent at war, and that’ll be my next post.

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