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World War I - Converting civilian industry to production of war materials Illustration

World War I - Materials to fight the war

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For Teachers - Lesson Plan, American Industry in WWI

Show photos or create a list of material needed to fight the war using overhead, projector, computer screen or whatever you use to create a list.  (Examples:  Airplanes, uniforms, guns and ammo, ships, tanks, etc.)

Next, discuss how civilian industry was converted to war time industry. Use automobile plants producing cars and then converting to the production of tanks as an example. Henry Ford introduced the Model T automobile one year before war broke out in Europe during WWI. He created the assembly line. This was very important to the war effort. When American entered WW1, plants, like Henry Ford's, converted production of automobiles to the production of tanks.

Have students brainstorm and create a list of other factories that might make war material. This is not as easy as you might think, and was exactly the problem faced by Congress. Who could do what? Examples students might come up with: 

  • Lipstick company making bullets

  • Bicycle company making airplanes

  • Fertilizer company making explosives

  • Bug spray companies making gas masks   

Finally, have students brainstorm a new list with modern day ways to change industry from peace time applications to war time applications.  An example of something they might say: Video game designers creating training simulations for training pilots or tank drivers  

Mass Production, Conversion civilian industry to war industry

Women enter the workplace