Friday, March 7, 2014

World War II ~ Poland and Russia

On our journey through World War II history, we moved on to Poland and Russia this week. For this leg of the journey, our chapter book this week has been The Endless Steppe, one of my favorite books since I was a child. It is about a Jewish family from Poland who is deported to Siberia during the war. The story is told from the eyes of a girl who grows from a shy 10 year old to a resilient 13 year old girl. This book covers the experiences of traveling in a cattle car, living in a labor camp, severe hunger, coming of age under hard circumstances, exile, going to a Siberian school, life in Siberia, the loss of wealth, choices in life that seem right at the time but don't turn out well, and returning to Poland after the war. What makes this story even better is that it is a true story written by the person who went through this experience.

We watched several YouTube videos about the Steppes and Siberia. We also had a lovely Russian meal for lunch. I took the kids to an inexpensive little hole in the wall restaurant that makes Russian and Ukrainian food. The owner talked to us for a while about her grandmother's experience during World War II in Russia. She was a wealth of information. We took the food home since we had one sick child this week and needed to get home. We had stuffed cabbage, Russian potatoes, and mini latkes.

With Easter on the horizon, I thought that learning about Faberge and Ukrainian eggs would be fun and tie in well to our studies. We watched some short documentaries about Faberge eggs. The kids loved them. We then tried our hand at making our own eggs. We painted plastic eggs with acrylic paint and then decorated them with as much detail as we could. For the "jeweled" eggs, we covered plastic eggs with glue and put them in a plastic bag with glitter. Then we glued beads from a broken necklace onto the glitter.

We  read about the Warsaw Ghetto and learned about the terrible suffering that took place. The books we read for this part of the study were Irena's Jars of Secrets, Irena Sendler and the Children of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Child of the Warsaw Ghetto.

We also had a wonderful time making a snap circuit radio this week. It gets about 10 radio stations. Tom Sawyer loves it. We will be adding it to our World War II hideout that I will be showing with our next World War II installment.

We finished off our week study of Poland and Russia with a Polish dinner. We had Polish sausage, carrots, and pierogies.

We will be studying the Netherlands and the life of Anne Frank next!

Blessings, Dawn


  1. Dawn, What a great unit study you are doing here. I was wondering where you get all these books and audio books. Do you buy them or borrow from your library?? I can see you do a lot of ahead planning. Good job, Momma! :)

  2. I love how you have divided WWII into geographical areas...genius!

  3. I just love all of your resources for WWII!!! I know your kids will remember this study forever!! I also love how you tie in food with your studies. I have always loved that idea!

  4. I'm still in awe of everything you do with the kids in their learning. I love the egg project. I just have to bookmark your posts for when we study WWII.

  5. Loving your WW posts. We are studying that now too and I'm excited to add in some of your ideas. :)

  6. This is such great work! I can't wait to get to the world wars and I shall be making use of your ideas when I get there!
    Have a wonderful week, Dawn.