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Impact of World War I on the United States

Main Core Tie

Social Studies - 5th Grade
Standard 5 Objective 1

Time Frame

1 class periods of 60 minutes each

Group Size

Small Groups


Sheri Sorensen


After reading about World War I, students will decide which event had the most impact on the United States.

Enduring Understanding - The United States emerged as a world power with influence which spanned the globe.

Essential Question - How did World War I, the Great Depression, and World War II change the United States in the 20th century?


  • paper
  • pencils

Instructional Procedures

  1. Explain to students that you are going to read them a book and that you would like them to use details/evidence from the book to decide what war the book is about. Read In Flanders Fields aloud to students, stopping to point out details in the pictures that give clues to the context (bayonets, barbed wire, trenches, uniforms, technology, what the soldiers are doing to pass the time, etc.)
  2. Explain that World War I was called "The War to End All Wars" and was a bloody war that engulfed Europe and the United States. World War I set the stage for World War II only twenty years later.
  3. Divide the class into four groups and assign each group one of the readings from A History of the US: War, Peace, and All That Jazz. Each student should choose 3-5 main ideas from their selection and one visual (photograph, political cartoon, picture, map, graph) that helps summarize that reading.
  4. Organize students into groups of four, with one student from each of the reading groups. Give students 3 minutes each to summarize the main points of the selections they read and to answer questions from their new group members.
  5. Assign each group to determine which event had the most impact on the United States. Students must reach their decision by consensus and be prepared to share their reasoning with the class.
  6. If you have a class timeline, as events are shared, add them to the classroom timeline.

Strategies for Diverse Learners

  1. The difficulty of the reading materials can be differentiated as necessary. Students can be grouped according to ability and the teacher can provide reading materials suitable for the ability of the group members.
  2. The assessment product can be differentiated. Other possible products could be: newspaper editorials, debates, newscast, etc.

Assessment Plan

Using examples of political cartoons from the Hakim reading selections (page 32 is especially powerful), explain that political cartoons are meant to provoke emotion and thought on a particular topic through the use of humor or strong feeling. Assign students(alone or in their groups) to create a political cartoon on the event selected by their group for the classroom timeline. Political cartoons should be illustrated and should demonstrate understanding the event's impact on the United States.


  • Lesson plan taken from Granite School District Fifth Grade Interconnections
  • In Flanders Fields by Norman Jorgensen and Brian Harrison-Lever
  • A History of the US: War, Peace, and All That Jazz ("War's End," "Fourteen Points," "Another Kind of War," and "Mom, Did You Vote?") by Joy Harkim

Created: 06/26/2009
Updated: 02/05/2018