A Match Without a Fuse

Minnesota State Standard – Describe the social, political and economic causes of World War I.

Students will understand the long term and short term causes of World War One by analyzing primary and secondary sources.

Class Discuss the following quote:
“A Match is nothing without a fuse. A fuse is nothing without a bomb.”
What is the meaning of this quote?
How is it related to war?
(Background Reading) – Students will read the article “Crisis and Conflict” (pg 1-3) and complete the M.A.I.N. Causes of World War One table (Appendix 1)
Discuss and check for understanding what “MAIN” means and what students found
Students will then analyze the Causes Documents (Appendix 2)
Students will analyze the documents by answer the questions attached to each one.
Students will then use both the “Crisis and Conflict” reading and the “Causes Documents” and complete the Reasons for War Graphic Organizer (Appendix 3)
Students should create a link between “bomb, fuse, match, spark” to the beginning of World War One. They need to justify what each step is and why.

To modify source analysis of the Causes Documents (Appendix 2) for lower level students the teacher should model the Source Analysis steps to entire class.
Teacher could also break the Documents into a jigsaw activity to break up the number of documents to analyze.

To extend this activity have students compare and debate over the question below.
“Which one of the “MAIN” causes of World War One was most significant.

This lesson is based on concept discussed by David Silbey’s presentation on “Why Does America Go to War?” To view his Decision Making and how that leads to war View his presentation on “The Spanish-American War (1898).”

Reading “Crisis and Conflict on the Global Stage” by Saul Straussman from Big History Project.

Reading “A Fire Waiting to be Lit: The Origins of World War I” By Bill of Rights in Action – Constitutional Rights Foundation.

  • Mark Wiese
  • Mankato West High School
Related History Institute
Grade Level
  • High School: 9
Time Frame
  • 2 Hours

If you have any questions about this lesson plan, or if you wish to contact the author, please email us at history@fpri.org