Friday, July 7, 2017

Our Level 4 (8th Grade) Six Week Unit on World War I

Mater Amabilis™ gives some lesson plans for History in Level 4 (8th grade) in which a student studies national history for twelve weeks followed by four six-week terms chosen from six options.

In the first term, First Son will follow the Mater Amabilis™ study reasonably closely, modified only a little to add in a few Kansas-related books.

Beginning in the second term, First Son will spend six weeks studying World War I. Mater Amabilis™ recommends Witness to History: World War I by Sean Connolly as the main book but our library didn't have it and I already owned The World Wars by Paul Dowswell, Ruth Brocklehurst, and Henry Brook so I decided to use that instead. You can find it on Amazon, but I bought my copy from a friend who sells Usborne books. 

Because my main book is different than that recommended, I had to revise the lesson plans considerably and thought I'd post them here in case anyone else happens to have this book and wants a six week study of the First World War. I haven't seen Witness to History: World War I, but I do have the World War II book of the same series. It is shorter than the part of The World Wars devoted to World War II and I think would therefore allow for more exploration of topics of interest, World War II saints, or the Church in World War II. It's probably also cheaper than the Usborne book.

I haven't actually read any of the books yet, but I have no reason to believe my plans are any better than the Mater Amabilis™ plansso this post is for the few people who might already have the Usborne book lying around.

Also, these plans have never been used. Hopefully I have the courage to report back if they turn out to be a disaster!

Mater Amabilis™ says history at this level should take about 45 minutes each day three times a week. In addition, a supplemental reading book should be chose from the recommended books. (I picked War Horse which I was able to find on

Our Resources

  • Usborne The World Wars (I purchased this new through a friend.)
  • Kingfisher HistoryEncyclopedia, as recommended in the Mater Amabilis™ plans (I bought this used from a mom in my local homeschool group.)
  • MapTrek Outline Maps of World History (I've had this for years as it's recommended in Connecting with History; I probably bought it at RC History.)
  • I printed to PDF most of the articles linked in the plans and placed them in a binder before the term began. Movies or audio files I linked in a Google doc I shared with my son.

Week 1

Lesson 1
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 376-377 and 386-387 - Narrate. (The Balkan Wars 1921-1913, The World at a Glance 1914-1949)
The World Wars p 9-11 – Narrate. (The Great War)
MapTrek Modern World Map 20: The Balkan Wars
Review the map of World War I in your history notebook (MapTrek Modern World Map 21 completed during the first term’s American History)

Lesson 2
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 388-389. (The Start of World War I 1914)
The World Wars p 12-17. (Balance of power, Assassination and crisis, Europe in arms)
Notebook: Write a brief note on the causes of the First World War.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 16-19 – Narrate. (Plans unravel)
Notebook: Write a brief summary of the Schlieffen Plan or the First Battle of Marne.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 2

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 21-27 – Narrate. (Over by Christmas?, Carving a new frontier, Fire, wire and mud, Going up the line)
Notebook: Sketch a copy of the map on p 23 of the battles and front lines in the first year of the war. Write a brief summary of life in the trenches.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 28-29, 32-37 – Narrate. (A storm of steel, North Sea raiders, Your country needs you, A day of peace)
Read more about the Christmas Truce in two articles in your history binder: BBC special news report and a Smithsonian article.
Notebook: Write a summary of the Christmas Truce.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 39-49 – Narrate. (Going global, Cruiser warfare, African action, Turkey enters the war, Jihad and genocide, The Eastern front)
Notebook: Sketch the map of the Eastern front on p 48.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 3

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 51-55 – Narrate. (Deadlock, A deadly mist, Settling in)

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 56-61 – Narrate. (A dangerous voyage, Out of thin air, The home front)
Read more on the Lusitania in articles in your binder: A survivor story from SlateLost Liners Lusitania on PBSRMS Lusitania: The Fateful Voyage on
Notebook: Write a newspaper account of the sinking of the Lusitania from England or Germany’s point of view.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 62-65 – Narrate. (Gallipoli, War in the snow)
Notebook: Sketch the map shown on p 63 of the Gallipoli campaign and write a brief summary of its failures and successes.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 4

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 67-77 – Narrate. (The mincing machine, Dreadnoughts duel, Doomed youth, Sky fighters, Slaughter and Sacrifice)
Flying Aces by John Wukovits (from our library) – read Introduction and chapter 1 on the Red Baron.
Notebook: Written narration on the Battle of Verdun, Battle of Jutland, Air warfare in the First World War, or the Battle of the Somme.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 78-87 – Narrate. (Trials and trauma, Women in uniform, Shock tactics, Secrets and spies, Desert wars)
Read about Lawrence of Arabia at IWM, found in your notebook.
Notebook: Write a short biography of Lawrence of Arabia.

Lesson 3
Explore the EWTN Fatima website:
Notebook: Written narration on the apparitions at Fatima.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 5

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 89-91 (Riots and Rebels)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 392-393 (Ireland: Civil Unrest 1916-1923)
MapTrek Modern World Map 24: The Division of Ireland.
Notebook: Written narration on Ireland just before, during, and after World War I.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 92-93 (Peace, bread and land)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 394-395 (Russia 1917-1924)
MapTrek Modern World Map 23: The Russian Revolution.
Notebook: Write a summary of how Russia’s participation in World War I ended.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 94-95 (Waking the giant)
Read Wilson’s War Message to Congress and what it meant, both in your binder.
Notebook: Question to answer – Do you think the USA should have entered the war earlier? Explain your answer.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 6

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 96-105 – Narrate. (Drowning in mud, Backs to the wall, Death throes, Armageddon, The time for peace)
Review MapTrek Modern World Map 22 of the final allied offensive, in your binder from first term.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 107-113 – Narrate. (Peace and its aftermath, Coming to terms, Redrawing the map, The glory and the pity)
Read some war poetry in your binder: Dulce etDecorum Est by Wilfred Owen and The Soldier by Rupert Brooke.
Review MapTrek Modern World Map 25: Europe, Post WWI, in your binder from first term.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 114-121 – Narrate. (A changed world, Soldiers’ stories, Visions of war, Lest we forget)
Notebook: Write an essay sharing what you have learned from studying World War I.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

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