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Virtual Field Trip & Unit Study Resource List: Using children's literature to introduce WWII history

While many families are venturing into road schooling and world schooling there are plenty of opportunities to see the world and build your own curriculum without ever leaving your home. One of my most memorable teaching units is based on persuasive writing with my sixth grade students. Our objective was to become familiar with persuasive writing so I needed to choose a topic to base our writing on that had multiple entry points of interest and depth. I chose to study World War II because there is so much available in terms of historical fiction, informational text and history to pull from. What I wasn’t expecting were all of the resources available online! Below is the main novel I used to work with my students along with the two main museum websites that provided us with virtual tours of historical sites and information.

Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr: My class read the book using worksheets (available online usually for purchase) to supplement our understanding of vocabulary related to the culture and history presented. Every novel also includes directions on how to fold origami paper cranes.

Peace Memorial Park & Peace Memorial Museum (online virtual tour): Visit the actual sites with 360 cameras that allow you to zoom in past boundary lines and other in-person limitations. View actual exhibits and get to know the area from aerial satellite and topographic images. This website offers sensitive information from a child friendly perspective.

Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum (online virtual tour): This website offers images of the city and materials collected from the bombing site along with their historical significance including artwork from survivors and an offer to arrange a live video conference with survivors who provide their testimony. This website is set up for the general public.

No matter how you arrange these three resources there are endless ways to organize a persuasive writing unit or in-depth discussion with your child/family. Please remember that this is obviously a very sensitive topic and a lot of heavy information is shared within these resources. Use caution and sensitivity with children around this material. I used these materials with 11 and 12-year-old students and had to make accommodations for families with sensitivities. I hope you find the history of Hiroshima and its people useful in your homeschool curriculum and find that it allows you to expand on the stories of lives that are typically under-represented in standard curriculum. The most valuable learning I found within all the information was how it allowed my students to step outside of their communities to and examine life from other perspectives.

You may also enjoy some of the following readings and local places:

Picture books for young readers that help introduce topics like World War II, racism, harmful legislation, & Asian-America people who overcame adversity:

Heroes by Ken Mochizuki

Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki

Passage to Freedom by Ken Mochizuki and Live Oak Media

Novels for advanced readers that develop on the above topics and introduce children’s lives during and after WWII.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Novels for teen readers that expand on children’s lives during/after WWII:

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

The Book Thief by Zusak Markus

Websites/Places to visit online or in person:

Manzanar: National Historic Site of California: Visit online or take a trip to the historical site located near the Sequoia National Park about 4 hours north of Los Angeles.

Museum of Tolerance: Visit and view the Anne Frank exhibit or attend speeches where Holocaust Survivors provide lectures. Located in Los Angeles.

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