Teaching World War I as a unit study to children on all grade levels can be a challenge; however, with a bit of creativity and some fun resources, you can do it.

For teens, it's easy. Simply use appropriate chapters from a history textbook, Internet resources, or library books to learn about the people, places, and events of this war. For "homework" and "assessment," teens can do research projects, composition projects, and PowerPoint slide presentations to demonstrate what they have learned.

For primary-age children, you'll need to make it a lot more interesting and a little less gruesome! There are many related topics that do not focus on the war itself. By selecting war-related topics that your child can understand and enjoy, you'll not only create an interesting and fun learning unit, but you'll also give your child a fact-filled introduction to the Great War. You can use this basic introduction to build upon in later school years.

Here are ten ideas to get you started:

1. Young children love animals. Why not focus your World War I lessons on animals and how they were used in the war? Not only were horses used in the Great War, but you'll also discover that pigeons, canaries, reindeer, mules, dogs, and storks were also part of this worldwide event. For example, reindeer were used by Russians to transport supplies across the tundra, cats were used to control disease-carrying rats, and canaries were used to test for the presence of poisonous gases.

Animals in World War I: Enter the Photo Gallery to see images of animals used during World War I. Additional images depict Weapons and Equipment, Heads of State, War at Sea, and War in the Skies.)

"Cher Ami and the Lost Battalion": Download this free booklet about a World War I carrier pigeon named Cher Ami, which your child can read and color.

• Mules and horses were used to pull light artillery, wagons, and ambulances, as well as carry supplies and ammunitions. Find out more about the use of mules and horses during World War I at this website.

• More than 50,000 dogs were used in World War I as sentries, messengers, equipment and food carriers, ambulance dogs, and guard dogs. Learn more at K-9 History: The Great War 1914-1918.

• Create a World War I animal booklet. Find images of animals used in World War I and paste one image per page. Write a sentence or two under each image describing how they were used.

• Read Chico—The Story of a Homing Pigeon in the Great War by Lucy M. Blanchard. For another look at animals in war, read The Cold War Pigeon Patrols: And Other Animal Spies by Danielle Denega.

2. Other topics of interest to children are ships and planes. Why not do some reading and research about ships and planes used in World War I? Here are two ideas: 

• The Lusitania left New York on May 1, 1915. A German U-boat attacked it before it reached Liverpool, England. Within eighteen minutes, the ship sank, killing 1,195 of the 1,959 people on board. Use images from the Great Ships website to create a photo page about the Lusitania. Write a paragraph or two explaining how the sinking of the Lusitania affected the war. Do a search on Google Images for "ships coloring page." Have your child color the page and add it to his World War I notebook.