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Published: 11/03/2014
KS3 | Modern World: 1900-present
9 pages

Alliances and the build up to the First World War: diplomatic simulation role-play

A lively simulation with students in role as countries negotiating alliances prior to the First World War. Note passing compulsory!

Extract from the resource

How it works:

Split your students into eight groups, each representing a country in 1914:

  1. Great Britain
  2. Serbia
  3. Germany
  4. Belgium
  5. Italy
  6. Austria
  7. France
  8. Russia

It is a good idea to project a map of Europe in 1914 so students have a firm grasp of their geography! A good one to use is as it does not have the alliances marked on it.

The role-play activity is designed to take around 30 minutes.  There is an information sheet for each country which sets the scene and explains the activity.  Each country will then need to receive a note from you at regular intervals (roughly every 5 minutes).  Some countries receive three notes and others four.  These are provided in numbered order in the country-specific tables for you to cut out.  Students then need to respond to the other countries before the next note is delivered.  It is helpful to circulate during this time to encourage appropriate responses (this can include lies, distortions and bids for alliances!).  Students will need blank paper to write their own diplomatic notes.

When the simulation has finished you can discuss who has made alliances with who, and what they feel about the state of Europe in 1914.  This could be consolidated with map work on the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente.


See other resources: First World War

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Andrew Goodlad
Andrew Goodlad
Message to Heather - yes the students need to know which group represents which country before you embark upon the activity so they know who to approach. I give each group a flag to sit on their table to avoid confusion when they are circulating with their notes. It's also important for each group to say which country they represent, on their notes which they write, in order to avoid confusion.
Posted on 22nd November 2019
Heather Schroeder
Heather Schroeder
Question, Do the groups all know who the other groups are ahead of time?
Posted on 14th October 2019
Johan Pacheco
Johan Pacheco
I have not used this material from a teacher's perspective. My teacher used this in 2004 during my freshman year of high school and I never forgot it. It struck such a cord with me that it fueled my interest in history to eventually major in it. I'm so happy to finally find this! Teachers, I recommend this content. Thank you to the creator, truly.
Posted on 21st May 2019
Myra Frazer
Myra Frazer
My students loved this activity. It was easy for us to figure out and it really drove home some important concepts.
Posted on 15th February 2019
Sarah Doyle
Sarah Doyle
I did not completely understand how the resource would work with the class but the students loved it and were thoroughly involved in making alliances with each other. I will use it again.
Posted on 2nd May 2017
Monica Ivette Delgadillo Rodriguez
Monica Ivette Delgadillo Rodriguez
Really amazing activity! Students were really engaged into learning to make alliances! Really enjoyed it!
Posted on 18th January 2017
Andrew Goodlad
Andrew Goodlad
Thanks for the positive comments. I actually wrote this role-play/simulation over 20 years ago and have tweaked it over the years. I use it as a hook for my first Y9 lesson of the year. It seems to work as history is by far the most popular option subject.
Posted on 9th May 2016
Clare Lean
Clare Lean
This is so fantastic- use it!
Posted on 29th April 2015
Karen grant
Karen grant
I cannot recommend this activity highly enough - I was a little sceptical that they would get the right outcome but it worked perfectly. The students loved it - thank you so much for all your hard work!
Posted on 6th November 2014

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