Classroom Activities: 

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American Forces in Europe during World War I

Lesson Overview

Overview: Students will be studying Europe or discussing history in the early 1900s. The activity involve them examining a historical map of American forces throughout World War I. They will use map skills to determine uses for the map and relate them to class discussions.
Grade Range: 6-8
Objective: At the conclusion of this project, the students will be able to:
  • Use a map legend to identify important components of a map.
  • Explain location of major battle sites in Europe on the map.
  • Discuss and determine uses of a specific map.
  • Evaluate how the map could be improved and what useful information could be added. 
Time Required: One class period of 40 minutes
Discipline/Subject: Social Studies/Geography
Topic/Subject: Maps
Era: Progressive Era to New Era, 1900s-1929


Illinois Learning Standards:  
  Social Studies:
17-Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society, with an emphasis on the United States.17.A-Locate, describe and explain places, regions and features on the Earth.
17.A.3b-Explain how to make and use geographic representations to provide and enhance spatial information including maps, graphs, charts, models, aerial photographs satellite images. 
17-C-Understand relationships between geographic factors and society.
17-C.3a-Explain how human activity is affected by geographic factors.
16-Understand events, trends, individuals and movements shaping the history of Illinois, the United States and other nations.
16.A-Apply the skills of historical analysis and interpretation.
16.A.3b-Make inferences about historical events and eras using historical maps and other historical sources. 


Handouts: Copy of primary source.
Analysis Tool: Map Analysis
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: Historical map American Expeditionary Force/Ezra C. Stiles, cartographer and Paul C. Bowman, historian


1. Students will examine the map displayed on the SmartBoard and write down the first item that catches their interest.
2. Students will be placed into groups of two or three. Then they will receive a copy of the map and analysis worksheet.
3. As a group the students will complete the worksheet. 
4. The class will discuss the items along with the map legend which includes the movement of American forces through Europe and major battle that took place. Then students will attempt to reason these locations based on map landmarks both natural and man made.
5. The teacher should point out a few possible uses for the map and discuss with students possible uses that they can see for the map based on when it was made and its primary purpose.
6. Each group will finish the analysis worksheet by adding what they like or dislike about the map. The students will then create improvements or questions concerning the map.


Students will be evaluated through class discussion, the analysis worksheet, and their list of improvements questions of the map. 

Author Credits:
Cumberland Middle School