The first week of our study, we concentrated on an overview of World War II. I taught them that over 50 countries were involved in this war and there were two "theaters", the European and the Pacific. We started learning about the new, modern weapons of war and what a soldier's life was like. Part of this huge war included a terrible genocide which was called the Holocaust and 11 million men, women and
children were killed because they were not the "popular" people.
Our first project was the mortar game. We learned about the use of anti-aircraft guns versus mortars. The kids lay on a blanket and threw a tennis ball (mortar) at a balloon. The were not able to hit it. Then they stood up and threw the tennis ball (anti-aircraft bullets) at the balloon. Standing up, they had a much easier time hitting it.
Our second project was making a ration kit for our "soldier". We used only the non-perishable food we had on hand so this project was probably harder than it needed to be. We had the kids try to get as close as possible to the requisite 1800 calories, 50 grams of fat, 40 grams of protein and less than 2000 mg of sodium. We decided the project was hard enough without paying attention to the weight and size of the package. We went a little over on calories, but the kids were pretty pleased with the food for the day.
The third project we did this week was a camouflage activity in which the kids hid a bike from view. I think they did a great job. Can you see the pink bike in there?
We are trying to watch a movie each week of our study. The first week we watched The Story of Us and Crash Course History WWII. The kids far preferred The Story of Us, which explained the war at a slower speed and in more of a movie form. We also read several books which I will list at the bottom.
Week 2 found us in Germany. I decided to start in the European theater. We learned about the Rise of Hitler and why it was that such a man could gain power in Germany at that time. We reviewed that many Germans wanted nothing to do with all of the fear and hatred that Hitler encouraged. Our main audiobook this week was Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Freedom. If you have not studied Bonhoeffer, he deserves a look. He was a German Lutheran minister who did a great deal of work to protect the Jewish community in Germany. After a long internal struggle, he decided to join an underground group that attempted to stop Hitler by any means possible (including assassination attempts). This audiobook did a wonderful job of explaining the mood in Germany that led up to the war and the struggle many had (including Bonhoeffer) between choosing loyalty to their country or devotion to Jesus' teachings. I won't spoil the end for those who do not know it, but the story is heart breaking.
The movie we watched for the second week was Paper Clips. This is a special movie about a middle school in Tennessee. About 10 years ago, they were teaching their students about the Holocaust and wanted to figure out a way to show what 11 million people looked like. They decided to collect paper clips, because wearing a paper clip during World War II was a way of showing solidarity to the Jewish community. The project spanned 4 years and brought them in contact with survivors and relatives of survivors from all around the world. They even ended up with an authentic box car to store their paper clips. They now have a museum that we hope to visit one day. It is located about 5 hours from us.
Since we were studying Germany, we had to have some German food. We made chicken schnitzel, potato noodles, and German apple cake. The meal was delicious! The kids loved making noodles from scratch. They were stiffer than wheat noodles, but tasted great.
The first two weeks of books ~
- World War II for Kids A History with 21 Activities
- One More Border The True Story of One Family's Escape from War-Torn Europe
- You Wouldn't Want to Be a Secret Agent During World War II!
- You Wouldn't Want to Be a World War II Pilot!
- Bonhoeffer The Cost of Freedom