A lively simulation with students in role as countries negotiating alliances prior to the First World War. Note passing compulsory!
How it works:
Split your students into eight groups, each representing a country in 1914:
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 https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist151/maps/QuizI2009/slides/Europe%201900.html 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.