Visit the only museum dedicated to the history of World War I in the United States. Learn how soldiers would fight from the trenches, see what would happen if a howitzer shell hit a house, and use a light table to create your own memorial.
Before Your Visit:
By this age, most kids will have had some mention or discussion of wars at school. Ask your child what they may have learned, and what they may be interested in seeing at the museum.
If you want to visit the Observation Tower, call the museum to make sure it's going to be open (it closes in inclimate weather).
The Family Guide, found on the Museum's website, has a scavenger hunt for kids, along with puzzles.
- View some videos that explain the events of WWI. (Remember, some of these are war videos and may contain graphic images – please preview if you are unsure of content).
Explore the WWI Museum:
- At the entrance of the museum, you will pass over a field of flowers (they are poppies). There are 9,000 of them and each one represents 1000 people who died in combat during the war, for a total of nine million.
- One of the most impressive exhibits at the museum are the trenches – you are able to view and listen to different war scenes that soldiers may have encountered during battle.
- Read the “Peanuts” comics featuring Snoopy and the Red Baron. Many kids won’t realize that the Red Baron is based on a real person(s). Also, talk to kids about how Schultz’s comics helped during the war.
- Many kids will want to try the interactive light tables that allow you to create your own war poster, see the inside of a machine gun and learn about how camouflage can be used.
- The museum houses a walk-through crater that shows what happened when a house was struck by a howitzer shell. Ask your kids what they feel like when they stand in the crater.
- Watch the movie “A World on Edge” to learn more about the events that lead up to WWI.
- Memory Hall has a series of murals and maps. There is also a bronze tablet that lists the 441 Kansas Citians who died in WWI, making the memorial a very personal experience.
- Visit a website dedicated to a carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, who saved more than 200 lives during the war. (This site has some music with it, so turn down your computer volume before searching).
- Visit the Document Archive for World War I - A wonderful resource that includes photos of WWI, and also an amazing section which connects to diaries and personal accounts about the war and the soldiers’ lives. I highly recommend reading some of the diary entries and first person accounts.
- The First World War webiste has some great sections that include “Photos”, “Posters” and “Who’s Who” for WWI. The posters and photos are great ways to show kids what was happening at that time in history.
- Some good reads that involve WWI include:
View National World War I Museum in a larger map