Lesson Plan: World War I: Comparing German and United States Soldiers

World War I - German Soldiers

Reenactors portraying German World War I soldiers discussed their uniforms, equipment, and the difficulties the common soldier faced. They were participants in a living history event hosted each year by the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.


This lesson uses video clips to explore the differences and similarities between the lives of American and German soldiers during World War I. Students will listen to historic reenactors describe the equipment, clothing and rations that were available during that time.


  • WARM-UP:

    Provide students with the following statement:

    Soldiers in the United States and in countries around the world are equipped with the same supplies to meet their needs.

    Agree/Disagree: Ask students to take a stand on this statement and write a sentence explaining their position.

    Have students share their responses.


    Have students complete the vocabulary activity. If using their personal devices, they should make a copy of the Google Slide and match each term to the appropriate definition. If they are using this as a printed handout, they can draw arrows to the correct match.

    HANDOUT: Soldiers of World War I: Vocabulary Activity (Google Slide)

    Students will match definitions for the following vocabulary terms:

    • Trench warfare
    • Tank
    • Gas Mask
    • Provisions
    • Tunic
    • Bolt Action Rifle

    After reviewing the vocabulary terms and addressing any misconceptions, have students view the following video clips to hear historic reenactors describe the experiences of soldiers during WWI. Students should complete the related Graphic Organizer with information from the videos and answer the accompanying questions.

    HANDOUT: World War I Soldiers Graphic Organizer (Google Slide)

    VIDEO CLIP 1: World War I - German Soldiers (6:53)

    VIDEO CLIP 2: World War I - American Soldier (8:22)

    1. What was the difference between the way German and American soldiers fought during World War I?

    2. Why was the experience for American soldiers different from the experience of the German soldiers?

    3. How did the amount of money spent on equipment affect the outcome of World War I?

    Using what they learned in the video clips, have students select one of the following handouts to complete to compare the way of life for American and German soldiers during WWI.

    HANDOUT: World War I Soldiers Venn Diagram (Google Slide)

    HANDOUT: World War I Soldiers Comparison Chart (Google Slide)


    Ask students to consider their notes from the videos as well as class discussion as they complete the following activity.

    Imagine you are a soldier who is overseas during WWI. Write a letter home to a family member or friend describing your experiences. Be sure to include details from the videos.


    HANDOUT: World War I Soldiers Sensory Figure (Google Slide)

Additional Resources


  • Bolt Action Rifle
  • Gas Mask
  • Provisions
  • Tank
  • Trench Warfare
  • Tunic


U.S. HistoryWorld History


Middle SchoolHigh School