World War I

Learn about World War I, the results of the war, and how and when the U.S. became involved.


  • Students will be to state that World War I began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
  • Students will understand that the United States remained neutral at the start of World War I and did not enter the fighting until 1918.
  • Students will be able to identify the Lusitania and explain why it is significant to World War I history.
  • Students will be able to identify the sinking of American ships by Germany as the impetus for the U.S. to declare war on Germany in 1917.
  • Students will be able to describe the purpose of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.
  • Students will understand that President Wilson signed the Treaty of Versailles but it was never approved by Congress and the U.S. did not join the League of Nations.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade – 7th Grade


  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

The First World War began in 1914, a few years before the United States entered the battle. The war began when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungry, was assassinated. Countries took sides with their friends, and soon a world war was in full force.

In the beginning, President Woodrow Wilson asked Americans not to take sides in the war taking place between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers. The Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The Allied Powers included Great Britain, France, and Russia. Greece, Serbia, Romania, Italy and Portugal also fought on the Allies’ side. While the U.S. remained neutral at first, it did send supplies to troops fighting overseas on both sides of the war. This was seen as simply a matter of doing business with other countries. However, early on, American ships carrying supplies to the Central Powers were stopped by the British Navy, but no one interfered with American trade to the Allied countries.

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