World War 1: Boys’ Hands On Activities

Our younger boys have been longing to dig a trench in the backyard so they can play World War 1. They had visions of digging at least 7 feet deep and lining their trench with boards to make it just like the trenches they saw in our WW 1 books. This weekend they got permission to start digging.

My husband didn’t think they’d get more than about 1′ deep in our Georgia clay before giving up. Never underestimate the will of a boy to carry out his plans! They have been digging all weekend and last night they hit the water table.

Their glorious trench is about 4′ deep now, and filled with water which bubbled up from the ground. It is a muddy mess! But they are so proud. They are bummed about the water, because they had visions of sleeping out there.  I’m glad nature spoiled that plan so I didn’t have to!

It has been hard to find WW 1 replica costumes online. One of the boys took an old plastic army helmet and used cardboard to fashion a brim around it. He covered it all with silver duct tape and he is pleased with the result.

We bought this helmet at our local army store. It had originally been worn by the Italian Civil Air defense in WW 2, but its shape is reminiscent of the WW 1 style helmets, and our youngest son is thrilled with it.

Whenever the boys needed a break from digging their trench, they prowled around the yard fighting imaginary Germans. One of the boys pretends he is a British Tommy, one is an Anzak (Australian New Zealand Army Corp) and the third is an Italian. Occasionally I wandered out onto the deck shouting in German, and tossing imaginary grenades over the rail to keep things lively.


  1. What great imaginations your boys have. Also fantastic determination to build a trench and what a great parent to allow them to try. What are you going to do with all that water:)

  2. Oh! My boys would so love that! What a great experience you let them have.