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Ideas for a game about Causes of WWI?

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I wanted to start off by apologizing if this isn't the right place for this question. Also, I am not a member of BSA, but rather a Polish Boy Scout in America.


I am a Troop leader and the theme for this year for the troop is World War I. The kids in my troop are aged 11-14. I wanted to do a history lesson next week about the causes of the War including: Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, and Nationalism. I know that the best way to teach is through games, and I was wondering if you guys had any ideas for a game about the causes of the war? I was thinking of explaining the messy and entangling alliances( Germany allied with Austria, Russia with Serbia), by doing a sort of variation on the "Human Knot", where a group has to hold hands and untangle themselves. However, I think this might be slightly too simple. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Ambitious. My scouts would have a hard time understanding those causes, but they could understand miscommunication and misunderstanding as causes of conflicts. I think games could readily me made, maybe even by the scouts themselves.

This is an interesting blog

In 1914 there were no mobile telephones, televisions or ipods. There were no computers and so no twitter or You Tube. Cinema and radio were still a novelty. People received their news via the tabloid papers, telegrams or written letters. And none of these methods was entirely reliable.

Communications between individuals and governments tended to be slow and were often delayed, so that events on the ground moved faster than the reception of letters or telegrams – a crucial factor in the confusion between the Kaiser and Nicholas II immediately preceding hostilities.


In Cub Scouts, we watched the Christmas Truce of 1914 movie documentary and discussed.  An amazing moment in history, no mustard gas, no machine guns, ...Christmas. 


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Hi, I'm also a Polish scout troop leader in the US, which hufiec are you from? We also happen to be doing the theme of WW1 this year. Anyways one of my zastępowi found this post when planning his zbiórka and asked if it was me so I decided to reply.

For the causes, I am doing less games, but I am tieing it more into the entirety of the year.

For militarism, I am giving them little plastic toy soldiers that represent their armies, they get these in relation to how many people from their zastęp are at zbiórka, winning different games between zastepy...etc. These toy soldiers represent their "armies." Later in the year, I plan to introduce a "war system" for the zastępy to compete using these soldiers. There will be a map of Europe and every week they will be able to lottery for a certain city on the map. Each zastep can decide how many soldiers they want to put into the lottery and the zastep whose soldier is picked, gains that city (more soldiers you put in, the higher chance of winning.) This is a fun little detail added into the zbiorki, but can add a lot to the overall theme.

For nationalism, I made each zastęp one country. I gave each zastęp the flag of their country and told them that they will receive punktacja for adding the culture of that country into their zastęp. I have found this works better than just games because they will get really creative with it. So far one of my zastępy has learned the whole Russian anthem, another has come dressed up in some cultural garments during one zbiórka...etc.

For imperialism, we are doing a canoe biwak on the Wisconsin River in two weeks. Every so often, I plan to have the harcerze dock on islands and race to put the flag of their zastęp up (thus symbolizing imperialism/the scramble for Africa...etc.) I am also involving small games based off different concepts, for example the Boxer Rebellion in China...etc. If you would like to see the whole program, just message me and I can send it to you.

Regarding alliances, I am still trying to come up with a fun way to incorporate it, but I hope this helps you out!

For those from BSA/ Non-Polish Scouting reading this:

hufiec = group of troops centralized around a certain region, for example there is one on the East Coast, one in Detroit, one in Chicago, one on the West Coast.

zastępowy = leader of the "zastęp"

zastęp = group of 4-6 scouts that work together as a team for the whole year (also known as a patrol)

zbiórka = meeting of scouts where we do all of these activities, for example we have ours on Saturdays

punktacja = points

biwak = short camping trip

harcerze = scouts

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