Teacher Resources

This page contains specific resources developed for teachers using this Exploration.

Entire Unit | General Childhood Experiences | Specific Childhood Experiences | Childhood in Internment Camps |Focus on War

Focusing Event for Entire Unit:

Analyze a primary source document:

Distribute the following document (Shortened version in Microsoft Word format) (Shortened version in PDF format) to students and ask them to answer the following questions:

  • Who wrote this document?
  • When was it written?
  • Who are the residents referred to in the document?

This is Executive Order 9066 (Full version in Microsoft Word format) (Full version in PDF format), issued by Franklin Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.

Short Background:

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued this executive order, which permitted the military to bypass the constitution and the safeguards for American citizens in the name of national defense.

The result of this order was the exclusion from certain areas, and the evacuation and mass incarceration of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast, most of whom were U.S. citizens or legal permanent resident aliens. Half of these people were children.

These Japanese Americans were forced to relocate to internment camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards for up to 4 years. Sometimes families were separated into different camps. Many became ill and died due to inadequate medical care or stress. Several were killed by military guards.

Brainstorm with the class the facts they know about World War II.

For background information, see:

General Childhood Experiences

Then and now

  1. Ask students to write down the activities they do for a 24 hour period.
  2. Using available resources, brainstorm what daily life was like in the 1940s during World War II.
  3. Compare life in the 1940s with the present.
  4. Students could make posters, create multimedia exhibits, or perform skits describing 1940s life.

Online Resources:

For older students

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Specific Childhood Experiences

For an integrated lesson with creative writing, ask students to write about their own childhood experiences.

Here are some suggested story starters:

  • What are your very earliest childhood memories?
  • What was your favorite toy? Why do you think that toy was special?
  • What was your favorite book? Why?
  • What was your earliest school memory?
  • Who was your first best friend? What has happened to that friendship in the years that have passed since then?
  • Who was your worst enemy? Why is this memory of that person so vivid?
  • What was your favorite food? What did you eat then that you no longer eat?
  • What was the biggest trouble you got into as a child? Did you deserve it?
  • What was your greatest achievement? How did it make you feel? What influence do you think it has had on your life since?
  • Describe what you did or where you went as a child when you wanted to feel safe.

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Childhood in Internment Camps

A good resource for information about internment camps is the book Born Free and Equal, a selection of Ansel Adams's photographs of the Manzanar internment camp which was published in 1944 by U.S. Camera along with a text by Adams.

This book is available on the LIbrary of Congress website:

In a letter to his friend Nancy Newhall, the wife of Beaumont Newhall, curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art, Adams wrote: "Through the pictures the reader will be introduced to perhaps twenty individuals . . . loyal American citizens who are anxious to get back into the stream of life and contribute to our victory."

The Library of Congress also has an excellent unit plan on Japanese Internment in their Learning Collections:

An excellent unit plan, The War Relocation Camps of World War II: When Fear was Stronger than Justice, is online from the National Park Service:

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Focus on War

Use the website, Dr. Seuss Went to War: A Catalog of Political Cartoons, to analyze political cartoons.

We associate Dr. Seuss with children's books, but he was active as a political cartoonist for two years, 1941-1943. He was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM and drew over 400 editorial cartoons.

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