World War II Unit
Individual Book Activities
Colored map at http://www.wwnorton.com/college/history/ralph/resource/wwii.htm
Book Title Activities
Diary of a Young Social Studies:
- Investigate why countries joined the Axis power or the Allies power:
Girl Who made the decisions? How involved were the citizens?
Anne Frank - List their similarities and differences in terms of type of government,
their beliefs about freedom, rights of citizens, and use of
- Research the Axis & Allies power’s technological advances and
their application to the war effort. Identify possible links to how these
advances affected the outcome of the war and/or how they’ve
impacted people’s lives after the war.
- Examine the adolescent development that Anne shows during the
book. What emotions and responses are characteristic of different
stages of awareness and development? Have students compare that
to these changes own development.
- Create data charts for various countries comparing number of
deaths of different ethnic and minority groups in prison camps, and
deaths of soldiers killed in battle. Compare these to the number of
the total population of each country. - Examine possible patterns in
these numbers, and how that may have influenced the ending of the
- Write up your ideas on the impact of technology (science standard)
using cause-effect reasoning.
- Have students make predictions throughout the book regarding the
likely survival of Anne Frank: have them list factors that influence
their decisions. At the end, compare how soon after her death the
Allies arrived and rescued those remaining at the camp.
- Have students write letters to Anne as themselves, or as different
characters in the book.
- Have students identify new or unusual vocabulary and the
strategies they used to guess and determine the meaning.
Child of the Social Studies:
- Examine the government’s actions to form ghettos and
Warsaw Ghetto concentration camps. What measures did they use to enforce this?
David A. Adler - Map escape routes from the ghetto to other safe places and routes
that the family and others took through out the book.
List characteristics of Hitler’s perfect race and how he planned to use
science to achieve this.
Research data on the numbers of children and adults who survived
from ghettos. Present as percentages or in table or graph form.
Compare across different ghettos to find trends or patterns.
Compare different ghettos and discuss the importance of setting for
Froim Baum’s survival.
The Children We Social Studies:
- Discuss the civic participation of families from other religions
Remember helping Jewish children by hiding them as their own. Discuss
Chana Byers Abells circumstances when individuals decide to defy the government.
- Compare how different governments respond to citizens who
disobey. What types of citizen actions result in more severe
- Compare different games of these children with games and
activities today. Interview parents and grandparents about the
games and activities they played. Compare across countries and
- Examine all the different ways in which the children died in the
camps and what physical or chemical processes were used.
- Examine why certain chemicals are poisonous in terms of the life
function(s) they interrupt.
- Create a graph showing the number of children's death that
occurred each year during the holocaust. Create a double bar
graph comparing to the total number of deaths that year.
- Calculate the different angles needed to draw a star like the yellow
stars that had to be worn by the Jewish people. How are these stars
different survived from those with 6 points?
- Display ratios (pie chart) with number of children who survived
(escaped to other countries, rescued by Christian families, etc.)
compared with the ratio of those killed.
- Explain the effect of the setting on the book and how a change of
setting would have influenced the stories of the children.
- Compare children from this time period in all different settings, and
write an additional chapter to the end of the book about children all
over the world.
Fireflies in the Language Arts:
Compare different ghettos and discuss the importance of setting for
Dark Froim Baum’s survival.
Susan Goldman Rubin Science:
Research some of the diseases that occurred as a result of the living
conditions within the camps. How did Anne Frank die?
What percentage of people in concentration camps died of disease
and what type?
- Examine the pictures in the book to describe how they help “tell”
the story of the children.
- Use the social studies activity to examine fact versus opinion and
how propaganda films are designed to confuse this difference.
Hilde and Eli Social Studies:
- Create a multiple tier timeline that shows Hitler’s actions and the
David A. Adler
events for Hilde and Eli.
- Compare the positions of the governments beginning with Germany
and the response of Czechoslovakia in their treatment of the Jews.
Examine the beliefs today about racial theory in contrast to Hitler’s
beliefs about creating a “superior” Aryan race.
Make tables, graphs, or other models to show the number and the
percentage of various age groups who were victims of the Holocaust
in the different European countries.
Create a third character in the book from another country in Europe.
Research and write about the life of a child who did not survive the
Holocaust incorporating literature elements of setting, plot, and
Let the Social Studies:
Compare the treatment of the Poles in this book to the Jews, people
Celebrations with disabilities, and other camp prisoners. What Nazi policies were
Begin used to imprison different groups?
Examine how lack of nutrition affects the body and its functions.
What types of nutrients are most important for survival? Is this
different from children compared with adolescents, and with adults?
Create a graph of the children’s height in the book and students in
the classroom. Examine height and weight ratios and whether the
children in the book were the appropriate weight for their height.
- Examine the use of dialogue in the book. How does the author use
dialogue to show personalities of the characters? How does
dialogue show how the characters develop and change? - Rewrite
the middle and/or end to the story by changing one event or one of
the character’s personality.
- Create a line graph, by chapter, that shows the tension between
key characters for each chapter. How does the author use this as a
The Butterfly Social Studies:
Compare the government policy with the civic response of Monique’s
family by choosing to hide Sevrine’s family. What risks were both
Examine the health effects of psychological conditions such as long-
term fear and anxiety. Compare these effects with starvation.
Create a scale model of the house. Include the basement, passages
and hidden rooms based on the text and pictures.
- Summarize and find main ideas by providing students with the
pictures in the book unaccompanied by the text. Have students fill in
their own accounts under each picture.
- Discuss various symbols and their meanings from the book.
Discuss how butterflies were a symbol and what important truth they
The Night Social Studies:
Geography: Trace the route that the family took during their journey.
Crossing Define and identify regions or landmarks of their trip using both man-
Karen Ackerman made and landform characteristics.
- Using the mountains in the book research how the Alps were
formed and what they are composed of.
- Describe how climatic zone changes as altitude increases, and how
this affected the family’s trip.
- Measure out different paths the family could have taken and
compare these with the path they did take. Compare the lowest,
highest, and average altitudes for each path.
- Measure the size of pockets to figure out how many items they
could hide in their pockets. Compare differences between 2-
dimensional measurements and 3-dimensional volume for several
sizes (can use different sized plastic bags, sew different pocket sizes
in home economics, etc.) and measure volumes by using beans or
other small items.
Have the students write or tell about the one thing that they would
want to take with them if they were in Clara’s position and their
reason for taking that possession over anything else they owned.
Use at least 2 types of arguments or persuasive techniques. Have a
class vote choosing 1-2 that are most effective.
Number the Stars Social Studies:
- Compare the backgrounds and beliefs of the girls and their
friendship. Compare this to ethnic and religious differences of that
time and of today.
- Identify the different ways that Anne Marie's family helped the
Rosens, and why they chose to do this. Examine why some citizens
choose to help others, even when it endangers themselves, and
others do not.
- Identify the key religious differences, beliefs, and practices
between Jewish and Christian families.
- Rewrite key parts of the story adding technology that we have
today. Discuss how events would be altered based on the
technology available. Discuss how these could be made if labs were
- Investigate different chemicals that could have been on the material
in the package Anne Marie delivered.
- Compare the two friends (Anne Marie and Ellen), noting their
similarities and differences. Decide whether any of these traits had
an effect of why Ellen’s family was persecuted and Anne Marie’s
family was not. Have the class discuss why Hitler persecuted
different groups and his racial goal for the world.
- Determine the distance that Ellen's family had to travel to Sweden
in order to be safe. Calculate how long it would take them using
different types of transportation and different weather conditions.
- Determine the percentage of Jewish families who escaped to other
countries for safety.
- List main events that occurred throughout the novel. Discuss cause
and effect relationships. Use this to create a summary that includes
- Describe Anne Maries’ character development in understanding the
situation and her decision and determination to help.
Rose Blanche Social Studies:
Research the historical group White Rose from which the author
developed his title. Compare how Sophie Scholl (of White Rose)
compares to Rose Blanche.
- Discuss whether Rose Blanche’s delivering of food my have
prolonged the life of the children in the camp. How else do you think
her acts may have influenced the children (something to look forward
to, act of kindness, etc…).
- Compare the amount of food energy found in fats, proteins, and
carbohydrates. Discuss food choices among these 3 if starving, or if
trying to eat a healthy diet.
- Compute the number of calories children need to eat: to maintain
their weight and also to survive. Compute this for several heights
and ages. Estimate how many calories rose Blanche was probably
able to bring in her visits.
- Locate symbols the author incorporated throughout the book.
Explain what you think they might represent including the element of
color (red swastika and red hair ribbon). Create your own symbols
and incorporate them in the story.
- Write a letter to Rose Blanche as if you were one of the children
she had fed in the camp.
- Compare the nature of the characters and plot events of this book
as an example of realistic fiction with a non-fiction book (Hilde and
Eli, Children of the Warsaw Ghetto, etc.)
- Create an acrostic poem about the Holocaust using the letters from
Rose Blanche’s name.
Star of Fear, Star Social Studies:
Examine the changes in government policy in France as a result of
of Hope the German invasion. Compare the lives of people prior to, and after
Jo Hoestlandt the invasion due to changes in policy.
Compare racial traits and cultural traits between groups. Determine
which led to the greater differences between people. Compare the
impact of perceived differences and authentic differences.
Identify the possible camps where Lydia may have been taken.
Compare the size of the adult and child prisoners populations using
bar or line graphs.
Use this book to have students make predictions on what they think
might occur next. Divide the story into appropriate stopping points.
Have them use logical thinking based on clues from the story. After
reading the next section have students identify which elements they
predicted correctly and incorrectly based on story events. [Note:
focus on making logical predictions rather than correct predictions]
Have students choose one of their incorrect predictions and rewrite
the story based on that.
The Little Ships Social Studies:
- Show the different countries that worked together to help rescue
the British soldiers. How was this an example of both government
policy and civic participation?
- Research different rescue missions that were attempted and
accomplished in saving Allied soldiers during the war. Compare the
government actions, citizen participation, and volunteerism for these
- Research technological changes that have occurred on ships since
World War II. Describe the differences and their effects on ship
- Investigate the types of energy used by the different ships when
traveling in the water. What are the potential obstructive vs. helpful
energies of the ocean and the wind for making this crossing?
- Compare the technological differences of the boats used to rescue
the soldiers. What safety risks did the smaller boats take? What
factors would you examine before deciding to take such a risk?
- Make a graph comparing the number of soldiers who were rescued
with the number of soldiers who were in trouble.
- Use an effective measuring tool to determine the distance the boats
had to travel to rescue the soldiers.
- Research the tides in the English Channel. Determine the best
times for the boats to travel each direction. Create a graph that
shows this and include the speed and duration of each trip.
- Rewrite parts of the book from different perspectives and examine
how this alters the overall tone of the book (soldiers, other sailors,
the girl’s brother, etc). Decide which perspectives are more vs. less
effective in communicating the theme.
Passage To Social Studies:
- Mr. Sugihara received a memorial for his actions in 1985. Research
Freedom: The this memorial and explain its significance. Research other people
Sugihara Story who played a vital role in saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust.
- Discuss possible reasons why the Japanese denied Mr. Sugihara’s
request. Think about how you would have responded and how your
actions would have compared to Mr. Sugihara’s. List values and
beliefs that influenced Mr. Sugihara’s decision to help.
- Describe how this book shows potential conflicts between
government policy and individual civic actions/responsibilities.
Discuss the differences between inherited and learned
characteristics. Were Mr. Sugiyama’s personality characteristics
inherited or acquired/learned?
It was estimated that Mr. Sugihara saved a total of 10,000 Jewish
lives. Calculate how many days he wrote visas based on the book’s
information that he wrote 300 letters per day.
- Examine the book’s front and back covers and the title. Make a
prediction about what the book is about. Pause throughout the story
and discuss whether the predictions were right. Provide opportunities
to change these as the story progresses.
- Locate various words and phrases that are unfamiliar. Use
strategies to predict what the words/phrases mean. Compare these
with definitions from a dictionary and discuss these as a class and
how to choose the most appropriate meanings.
Hanna’s Cold Social Studies:
- Compare the WWII timeline and occupation of troops with the
Winter environment described in Hungary and Budapest. Discuss how this
Trish Marx situation impacted the setting elements of the book.
- Investigate the process of energy transfer through the digestive
system of hippos. Identify their unique features that allow digestion
of plant material.
- Examine the affect of cold and winter temperatures on
food/nutrition needs for hippos and humans.
Research how much food a hippos eats. Compare this amount to
how much straw was collected in the book. Record about how many
hippos the community saved.
- Create two advertisements: one for informing people about the
hippo’s condition and pleading for the community’s help, and the
second one should be a current issue or cause in which you are
asking for others’ help.
- List characteristics that help one to figure out if a book is fiction or
non-fiction. Create a Venn Diagram comparing the two.
Book Title Activities
Sadako Social Studies:
Research how many children died from cancer after the bombing.
Research the different types of cancer the children had. Present
findings and evaluate the U.S.’s decision to bomb Japan.
Research genetic mutations that happened to children that were
born after the bombing or exposed to radiation. Explain how
radiation affects genetic material in our bodies. Compare the effects
on different organs and on eggs/sperm.
Find the appropriate unit to measure the area/circumference/etc of
the bomb's damage to the city, then measure. Calculate how much
damage would be caused if a bomb were to be dropped in your area
and across the different impact zones.
- Identify metaphors and similes used in the text. Discuss how this
conveys ideas and moods.
- Decide whether or not the book is fact or opinion and write a paper
that explains your position, using at least three examples.
- Choose a person and a topic for a letter (money for a statue,
spreading Sadako’s story, the importance of peace, etc.). Develop
your letter using a style appropriate for this person, their position,
age, and beliefs that will help you be successful. Have the class
vote on the most effective letters.
Paper Crane Social Studies:
Research how cranes are represented in other cultures. Create a
diagram to show the similarities and differences among the cultural
beliefs. Interview people on their
(Background story to
Discuss how folklore, mythology and science are related to one
another. Compare Japanese, U.S., and other cultures.
Have students display cultural representations of cranes (Social
Studies) in graph or table form. Examine similarities and differences
by country and culture.
Using the book as a model, create a story that includes a
protagonist, a stranger, and a gift. Just as the stranger in The Paper
Crane adds music to the crane, your stranger should also “add
something” to the gift that makes it more beautiful.
Perfect Crane Social Studies:
Research good luck charms in their own cultures. (ex. Shamrock, 4-
leaf clover, horseshoe, rabbit’s foot etc) Interview others (students,
teachers, parents, siblings) about how much they believe in these
(Background story to
- Research how origami plays an important role in Japanese culture.
Explore relationships between magic and science. Discuss whether
they can coexist. Follow up Social Studies interviews asking people
about their beliefs in science vs. magic.
Create a crane and other figures from origami. Identify how many
similar angles can be used to create very different shapes.
- Write a folktale/story where a good luck charm solves a crisis.
- Compare the influence of the crane in this book, The Paper Crane,
and Sadako. What is the symbol represented by the crane in
Hiroshima No Social Studies:
- Create a bomb impact chart showing the damage from “ground
Pika zero” outwards (choose either Hiroshima, Nagasaki). Track the
Toshi Maruki effects on people, on their later-born children, damage to the city and
to outlying areas.
- Discuss how rebuilding a city would include both government acts
and citizen (civic) participation. Compare this to recent events
(Katrina, local floods, etc.)
- Discuss types of energy created by the bomb: potential vs. kinetic;
fission and fusion and the amount of energy radiated. Create a chart
to distinguish between different kinds of energy of the bomb.
- Examine the uses of atomic/nuclear energy. Examine how it is
controlled and how it affects life if something goes wrong.
Plot bomb impact in terms of circles: epicenter of bomb to outside
circle of destruction (radius, diameter, and circumference). Create a
diagram to represent impact areas of the bomb and apply
mathematical terms and models.
- Examine possible points of view: although the story is told from the
young girl’s point of view, have students brainstorm and develop
different story elements or text based on point of view of the mother,
Japanese soldier, or American pilot.
- Examine how this book uses graphics (illustrations) with text to tell
the story. What is unique with this book?
- Rewrite the story based on the pictures. Choose vocabulary and a
writing style that matches the tone of the pictures.
Shin’s Tricycle Social Studies:
- Shin wasn’t able to have a tricycle at first because of lack of
resources. List the ways the army used resources to create weapons
and how citizens contributed to the war effort. Discuss how this
affected the peoples’ lives.
- Research the cultural differences between Japanese and U.S.
funerals and burial practices.
- Compare the affect of the war on families in Japan and in the U.s.
(All Those Secrets of the World, Nim and the War Effort) and the
contributions of citizens.
Examine the physical harm caused by the atom bomb and the
emotional impact caused by the mass deaths. How does each affect
a person’s long term health? What are other examples of events
that cause both physical and emotional harm?
Research to find the number of people killed in the initial bomb
explosion and graph the results (activity should be combined with
Hiroshima No Pika and Sadako to graph the number of immediate
and delayed deaths).
Create a headstone for the grave of Shin and Kimi. Each should
reflect what their lives represented and how they were killed. What
tone and writing style should be used? How does this differ from
other writing about a person’s life?
Faithful Elephants Social Studies:
Show the relationship between civic participation and attainment of
civic and public goals by using what happened to the elephants as
an example. Discuss how the public could have saved the elephants
by acting on their civic responsibilities. Compare this with actions of
civilians in Hanna’s Cold Winter. Also compare the environment and
conditions of the people’s lives in Tokyo vs. Budapest.
- Identify a change in the environment that would have allowed the
elephants would to survive.
- Research the ethics of the different ways used to kill the different
zoo animals. Craft an ethics policy for zoos and for pet owners.
Discuss different ways to measure the accurate height and weight of
the elephants. Trace their height/weight ratios from birth to old age.
Compare these with humans and/or other animals.
Write a persuasive letter or essay trying to spare the elephants lives.
Compare how you would write the letter to a government official in
comparison to neighbors or to people in the city (fellow citizens).
My Hiroshima Social Studies:
- Research and create a timeline showing Japan’s rise to power,
joining of Axis powers, attack on Pearl Harbor, and dropping of the
bomb and the end of the war. Include important government
decisions and actions.
- Compare Japan’s government with that of the U.S. and England.
What were the roles and powers of the Emperor, President, and
King? Who made the important decisions about the war for each
- Investigate the different energy sources of bombs. Compare the
chemical energy of traditional bombs (including IEDs) with nuclear
energy from atomic/hydrogen bombs.
- Using a map measure the damage zones from dropping the bombs
on the two cities. Calculate the area of damage for each city and
compare. Discuss why these areas are calculated based on circles
rather than rectangles/squares.
- Using the pictures in the book have the students become one of the
other people in the pictures and write a journal entry of their life
before and after the bomb was dropped.
Book Title Activities
Baseball Saved Social Studies:
Analyze examples of interactions between white and Japanese
Us Americans. Explain the factors that contributed to cultural
Ken Mochizuki cooperation and conflict during WWII in America.
Label different forms of energy that are used in playing baseball.
Compare energy transformation and ball trajectories of homerun
hitters in today’s teams.
- Draw a baseball field and find the angles between the different
items on the baseball field.
- Calculate the trajectories of baseballs when they are hit and
thrown. Examine why this pat forms an arc rather than a ray.
- Determine the relationship among the radius, diameter, center, and
circumference of a baseball. Compare with basketballs, beach balls,
and other balls.
- Describe the main character and how his views change about
himself throughout the book.
- Write a summary of the Japanese American experience. Examine
ways to include key events, but to remain concise. Describe how
you chose between events to include and details to eliminate.
The Bracelet Social Studies:
Discuss the child’s perception of Americans based on Emi’s belief
that she loved Americans but they didn’t love her back. What are the
cultural conflicts that this represents?
- Examine psychological needs for space. How did people in the
camps meet these needs when they were assigned small family
- Compare physical and psychological needs for space by doing a
survey of people in your school and family. How do people respond
when their needs for space are not met?
- Compute the size of the rooms for families in the camps. Compute
the linear and cubic size. Compare that with your own bedroom,
classroom, and your house.
- Calculate the percentage of Japanese Americans that were placed
in internment camps living within the US. Calculate the percentage of
the population of Japanese Americans at that time and today.
- Have students write a response of a time they were wrongly
identified and the feelings that accompanied this label.
- Examine how Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing people have been
mistreated as a minority group. Take a position on this issue and
write an essay that presents 3 arguments to support this.
Remembering Social Studies:
Compare the government policies in the U.S. that led to the
Manzanar Japanese internment camps, and what the German policies about
Michael L. Cooper the Jews. Examine how democracies such as the U.S. can still
implement restrictive policies.
Compare the influence of inherited racial or ethnic traits with cultural
practices, and stereotypes among people and countries.
Create stacked graphs to show number of population of Japanese-
Americans that were interned and where. Track how long most
spent in camps.
- Create a “day in the life” snapshot of life during WWII compared
with life today. Provide examples of how life would be different.
- Discuss whether the civil injustices such as internment camps
could happen again. Compare Japanese Americans with other
minority groups and/or white Americans.
So Far From the Social Studies:
Research the War Relocation Act. Discuss reasons why Japanese
Sea Americans were the target of this act and not other cultural groups.
Eve Bunting Compare this with how the government treated Chinese Americans
(Nim and the War Effort).
- Research how nutrition and medical treatment compared in US
camps verses the camps run by the Nazi’s.
- Compare the nutritional differences of a typical Japanese American
diet, American diet, and a camp diet. Which is more healthy
according to the food pyramid (MyPyramid.gov for kids-
Calculate the distance that Japanese Americans were moved from
different home locations. What were the furthest distances?
- Conduct interviews with people who may have known someone
interned at a camp. Find videos of interviews (PBS or ware
Relocation websites. Write a summary of their experiences based
on what was similar, or describe important differences.
- Take a position on the government’s decision to relocate Japanese
Americans. Include at least three arguments in favor of your
High Flight Social Studies:
Create a Venn diagram showing the war efforts of each of the Allied
countries including individual citizen, armed forces, and combined or
Examine how advances in flight technology affected the course of
war. Create a timeline with pictures of war technology and extend
this to include some technologies of today. Identify the scientific
principles that led to each development.
Compare populations in countries where John Magee lived and
where he was fighting. How many people were under control of
Allies vs. Axis powers? How many soldiers were serving for each
- Research war posters from different countries. Then create your
own examples of propaganda for specific countries listed in book:
England, Canada, United States, and Japan.
- Examine the poem and how it differs from an essay or a story.
Write your own poem about the war or rewrite John’s poem in
another genre or poetic form (Haiku, ASL poem, ABC story, etc.)
All Those Secrets Social Studies:
Examine the impacts on family life that occurred while the father was
of the World away at war. Compare this and describe with families in other
Jane Yolen countries.
- Compare the influence of weather on ships, cars/jeeps, and
- Compare speed of travel today with that of cars and ships during
WW II in the U.S..
Investigate patterns of perspective. Have students look at and
measure an object that is close and then look at the same object
farther away. Note how the dimensions change as the object is
further away. Have students identify this relationship at various
Write letters from the perspective of different family members about
the events that were happening while father was away. Include their
feelings about the situations in the family, and about the war.
Nim and the War Social Studies:
- Locate cultural characteristics and differences between Nim’s
Effort Chinese culture and American cultures. Have students make a list
Milly Lee of clubs or groups they belong to that define themselves and
compare this with Nim.
- Examine the cultural conflicts presented in the book. Compare the
U.S. response to Chinese Americans and Japanese Americans.
- Discuss items that your school could collect in order to earn money
for a cause.
Research the process of recycling newspapers and how this
contributed to the war effort.
- Calculate the number of minority students represented in a school
district (doesn’t have to be their own). Discuss feelings Nim may
have experienced being a Chinese American and a minority.
- Compare population trends and the growth in U.S. minority
- Write about a time when you requested help from someone in order
to accomplish a task. Compare this to Nim’s request of the
- Write a parallel story that uses the Deaf Community as the minority
culture. Use a similar theme: How the Deaf Community contributes
to the broader society.
Other Online Resources
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Online Workshop: www.ushmm.org/education/foreducators/
Photos and Maps: http://www.ushmm.org/education/foreducators/guidelines/
Education site with lesson plans: http://www.remember.org/educate/
Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem