Mobilization for World War I

Home Mobilization for World War I

Mobilization for World War I

In this lesson, students will look at posters and photographs from the time the United States entered WWI. The posters are meant to engage citizens by encouraging them to enlist or to help with the war effort at home. This homefront effort included assisting British orphans, buying liberty bonds, and saving food to help soldiers. The photographs in this lesson show rallies held for buying liberty bonds and planting war gardens. Students will be asked to examine and analyze these primary sources in order to determine how they compelled American citizens to contribute to the war effort.

Essential Questions

What does it mean to be a United States citizen, and what is your role in the history of the world?


  • Students will interpret posters/ images from WWI and understand the mobilization toward war in the US.
  • Students will analyze how the images in the lesson motivated citizens to participate in the war effort.
  • Students will create war posters and orally present their posters to their classmates.

Other Materials

Suggested Instructional Procedures

  1. Begin with a brief overview of America's entrance into WWI, as well as some additional background information on the war.
    1. One way to do this is to show students “If WWI was a bar fight.” Read this together as a class and discuss with students. Another example is to have students Watch the Crash Course History video on WWI, which details the US’s experience in WWI.
  2. Once a brief outline of WWI has been established, divide students into different groups with each group getting 1-2 sources. Students will have 5-10 minutes to look over their sources, fill out the worksheet, and prepare to present their source to the rest of the class.
  3. While each group presents, the other groups should fill out their worksheet of primary sources
  4. After the presentations are complete ask the following discussion questions: Overall, what sort of climate/mood did these sources create?  What tactics were used to motivate Americans to become involved in the war effort? Do you believe those tactics worked? Why or why  not?
  5. After discussing the primary sources and the psychological tactics used to motivate civilians during the war, have students create their own war poster in small groups. Provide students with 15-25 minutes to brainstorm and create a poster with posterboard and colored pencils/markers. Have students present their posters at the end of class and describe how their posters would effectively motivate Americans to contribute to the war effort.


Mobilize: to assemble armed forces, military reserves, civilians of military age, industries, and transportation facilities, etc. into active service during a time of war.

(Government) Bond: With the purchase of these bonds, a citizen essentially loans their money to the government, which the government uses in a time of war or economic hardship, and later repays.

War Garden: Gardens that were planted in people’s backyards that provided extra food. They were encouraged by the  government in order to save food to send to the military.

Enlist: to enroll, usually voluntarily, for military service.