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Felicia R. McKinnon
This unit is thematically designed so that activities, texts, and learning experiences are interdisciplinary, integrating many content areas, thus, students can construct meaning from a variety of sources including literature, films, periodicals, projects, and resource people. It is my belief that children’s literature enables students to construct meaning, gain knowledge, and build connections between the concepts taught and other disciplines. In this unit, students will read, hear, and discuss various genres of literature in order to clarify the concept of war. Using a variety of literature will broadened student’s sources of information and make them realize how many types of literature are useful for learning about certain topics. Below is a list of cross-curricular objectives for this unit:
1. Reading/Language Arts. Students will:
2. Writing. Students will:
- A. Read a variety of literary genres.
- B. Build literary webs consisting of character, setting, and plot.
- C. Listen to radio shows of the 1940’s.
- D. Express ideas orally and through written reports.
- E. Recite information for dramatic presentations and culminating projects, including facts about women and poetry.
- F. Understand characteristics of historical fiction and nonfiction texts.
3. Creative Dramatics. Students will:
- A. Engage in writing experiences that promote reflective, persuasive, and expository writing.
- B. Record daily reflections in a personal journal to show reactions to concepts. C. Read magazine articles and write mock articles.
- D. Write to pen pals who presently live in countries that are war zones.
- E. Make daily records in a literary log of reactions to books being read.
4. Social Studies. Students will:
- A. Reconstruct past events by writing and performing dramatic presentations about women and children in the 1940’s.
5. Music/Movement and Dance. Students will:
- A. Demonstrate sensitivity to values and behaviors of people in different historical contexts.
- B. Use facts and concepts drawn from history to make informed decisions on critical issues dealing with peace and war.
- C. Compare the behaviors and lives of people during World War II and today.
- D. Identify needs and wants of people during the war and make comparisons to people of today.
- E. Interview community people who lived through World War II or have some knowledge about the period.
- F. Understand cause and effect as it relates to war and conflict.
- G. View films that give information about the historical period.
6. Art. Students will:
- A. Create and perform dances to portray the period, and incorporate dances into dramatic presentations.
- B. Learn musical selections of the period.
7. Science. Students will:
- A. Develop projects and recreate items from stories to create a museum that displays memorabilia of the time period.
- B. Construct maps that illustrate continents, countries, and bodies of water to show geographical features key to World War II.
8. Math. Students will:
- A. Plant Victory gardens.
- B. Explore simple machines used by women in factories.
9. Social Development. Students will:
- A. Develop timelines that illustrate chronology of the time period.
- B. Use recipes to recreate foods of the period.
10. Health. Students will:
- A. Adopt a family in a war zone and send survival kits and care packages.
- B. Generate and demonstrate peacemaking techniques when interacting with one another.
- A. Study the responsibilities of the Red Cross during the war and learn fire safety rules and first aid instruction.
The war also affected the way children interacted with each other. Adults, propaganda, and advertisements often reminded children of the war. Children often participated in mock wars in their neighborhoods and began to make effective use of war terminology with words like “spies” and “allies”. Children also learned war strategy as they interacted with each other. As the children created mock wars they used problem-solving techniques to successfully outwit each other.
Using a picture book, students will examine the question “What is war”? The Butter Battle Book by Dr. Seuss will explore this question, the nature of war, the events that lead to war, and characteristics of society at war. This book complements the unit because children will be able to see the concept of war humorously, yet realize its serious effects on societies and countries. Picture books are useful to a social studies curriculum because:
- 1.They include information that is not always present in textbooks.
- 2.They contain entertaining illustrations for the visual learner.
- 3.They allow anticipatory activities and stimulate thought for new concepts.
- 4.They serve as springboards into discussion and writing on a desired topic.
Although fictitious, The American Girls Collection: Meet Molly, Molly Learns a Lesson, Molly’s Surprise, Happy Birthday Molly, Molly Saves the Day, and Changes for Molly by Valerie Tripp will help to create the image of war through a child’s eye, and make it possible for students to respond to the factors that affected the lives of Americans during the war. Linda Levistik in Fact and Fiction: Literature in the Curriculum, outlines the following as ways that historical fiction can influence students’ imaginative entry into the past:
- 1. Personalizing history: powerful themes are presented through the eyes of individuals who communicate the personal, emotional, and psychological impact of living in and through historical events and eras.
- 2. Exploring human experience: children are able to explore both the best and worst of human behavior.
- 3. Probing cause and effect: historical fiction carries readers along a timeline while involving the reader in cause and effect lessons about society.
- 4. Interpreting the past: through many different interpretations children are able to identify point of view as well as how the events of the period affected people.
- 5. Teaching the past: historical fiction can be an effective component to any social studies program.
In the classroom I have experienced success with interchanging fiction and non-fiction to promote effective comprehension in the content areas. By using literature to teach concepts, I have been able to motivate my students to learn. This unit has been designed to utilize non-fiction along with historical fiction, folktales, and picture books. The purpose of using non-fiction is to provide my students with information about the”Rosie the Riveter” image during the war. Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II by Penny Colman will be used for whole-class activities including read aloud to strengthen listening and research skills.
Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II (nonfiction text), “How War Drive Hits Home”, “What Did You do in the War, Grandma”, “Women’ s Place”, “Women at Work”, and “Women for War” (articles) will be used to provide facts about women working during the war. These texts will serve many purposes to my unit. First, students show a great need to learn strategies to use when comprehending forms of nonfiction text—expository and argument. By studying elements of nonfiction (fact and opinion, cause and effect, point of view), students will identify exposition as nonfiction that tries to explain something or tries to help the reader understand a subject or idea, and students will identify argument as nonfiction that tries to persuade the reader to believe or do something; Colman and articles will help reach these objectives. As Colman’s work is a chapter book written for intermediate through upper elementary grade level, it will present challenges to my second grade class. Lastly, Carter and Abrahamson, in Fact and Fiction: Literature in the Curriculum, note ways that nonfiction can infuse lessons and motivate students to learn. One way, key to this unit, is by building literary ladders. Colman and articles help to build literary ladders by extending the Molly Series and the idea of life during the war, especially life for the working woman, and therefore allow students to compare and contrast information about the period. Another way, by learning from the text’s illustrations—photographs, original advertisements, and propaganda—will allow students to examine the intentions of advertisements and propaganda. Other educational media will be used, for example, the film “The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter”. As a culminating activity for this component, my students will compose a dramatic presentation featuring women that Colman highlights, and women in the articles.
The most popular of folktales for children are those in which animals are personified. Talking animals have appeared in folktales of all cultures. Many animals’ roles remain the same, for example, the trickster rabbit, the sly fox, the slow turtle, and the wise spider. Also in many cultures the purpose of folktales varies but throughout my research I have found two common purposes of folktales: to entertain young children, and to teach social and moral lessons. I will use a selected tale in Peace Tales to clarify the war concept while allowing the tale to teach peaceful solutions to problems. The tale used in this component will cover themes such as war and pathways to peace.
Reader response is an important component to this unit because one of the purposes for writing this unit is to give students an opportunity to personally relate experiences encountered in the text. The lessons provided reflect the Reader Response Theory that Probst (1988) defines as a view of reading in which the reader plays a central role in constructing the meaning of a text (Gunning, 1996). The activities in the lessons allow students to respond personally to the events in the text. In addition to the sample lesson plans, I have provided a list of mini-projects that can be incorporated into any of the books in this unit:
1. To introduce students to characters of the time of World War II.
2. To promote aesthetic response to literature.
3. To write a journal entry about the character and her life.
Materials: Valerie Tripp’s Meet Molly of the American Girls Collection, Literary Logs.
Grade Level: Grade two
- 1. Before reading this book students will have been given a background on “What is war?” and how war affects people by reading The Butter Battle Book. For this book, I will give some background information about where Molly lives and her family. I will also explain that in this story a world-wide war is going on (this will serve as the first mention of World War II); battles are being fought in Asia, Europe, North Africa, Russia, and the Pacific, but the whole world is involved.
- 2. After discussing this preliminary information in such a way as to motivate students to want to know more about Molly, I will prepare them for their personal responses. For example, I might say:
____“Imagine that the year is 1941. You go to school every day, play with friends after school. Your mother has been home with you when you got home from school, and your father has come home from work at the same time every day. But now, because of the war that your country is in, your mother has to work, and your father has to be a soldier in the war. This is what happens to Molly, and happened to many other children during the war. As you listen to the chapters in the story, try to imagine what life would be like if your life were like Molly’s.”
A question I have is . . . .
- 3. As students read or listen to chapters 1-4, I will ask them to write their responses in their literary logs. Some sample ways to respond are:
|I began to think of . . .||I felt _____ when . . . .|
|I know the feeling of . . . .||This made me think of . . . . . . .|
|I love the way . . . .||I hope . . . . . . .|
|I realized . . . .||I wonder why . . . . . . . . . .|
|If I were . . . .||I like Molly because . . . . . . .|
- 4. Each book will take about four to five days for students to finish. A response should be made after each chapter so that once the series is complete, students will have a complete literary log to refer to for other culminating activities.
- 1. To strengthen listening skills.
- 2. To develop visual imagery.
- 3.To illustrate characters and settings described in radio broadcasts. Materials: Molly’ s Surprise and recordings of popular radio shows from the 1940’s—Superman, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, and Sherlock Holmes. Grade level: Grade two
- 1. Ask students if they have ever listened to a story by radio. Explain that in the Forties children did not have television and therefore their home entertainment was via radio.
- 2. As students listen to the radio story ask them to listen to the clues that suggest the physical appearance of the characters and setting. Tell the children to sketch the clues about story elements as they listen. After the story they will be required to illustrate characters, setting, and plot. Discuss the clues with the students. Discuss whether this story reminds them of a 1990’s story.
- 3. After students have listened to the entire story, they should create a television version of the story that reflects today and add sound effects to the show.
Materials: The American Girls Collection: Meet Molly, Molly Learns a Lesson, Molly’s Surprise Happy Birthday Molly, Molly Saves the Day, and Changes for Molly by Valerie Tripp; Literary Logs
- 1. To develop a literary web including themes, setting, characterization, plot, and conflict.
- 2. To understand literary elements as they relate to all Molly books.
- 3. To discuss the importance of each of the elements in the books.
Grade Level: Grade two
Characterization: students should analyze the character of Molly, Mr. McIntire, Mrs. McIntire, Jill, Ricky, Linda, Susan, Ms. Gilford, and Brad.
- 1. Prior to this lesson, students should have been exposed to strategies for identifying literary elements. This lesson is to be completed after all Molly books have been read.
- 2. Post a web on the board. On each extension, each literary element should be written. As you write the elements ask students to consider what could be written for each. Students should refer to their literary logs for information about characters, plot, setting, or conflicts. As a class or in groups students should fill in details on the web. Possible terms to include on the web are:
Themes: friendships, loyalty, loneliness, war.
Conflicts: Person vs. nature, person vs. self, person vs. person, person vs. society.
- 3. Once the web is complete, discussions should be held to compare answers of each group and to discuss the importance of each detail under the literary element.
Materials: Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”, Colman’s Rosie the Riveter: Women Working on the Home Front in World War II, and Literary Logs.
- 1. To recite information learned about the Rosie the Riveter image of women.
- 2. To learn poetry excerpts from Maya Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman”.
- 3. To strengthen listening skills as book selections are read aloud.
Grade level: Grade Two
- 1. Introduce Colman’s book by referring back to Molly’s mother, who worked for the Red Cross during the war, and Molly’s friend Susan’s mother, who worked in a factory. Then explain that there were millions of other women who worked during the war. Generate questions about how students feel this may have affected the families when these mothers had to work long hours.
- 2. Introduce the genre by explaining that what they read or listen to is real (nonfiction), and they should listen for information about the war that they may have heard in Molly’s stories (rations, patriotism, etc.)
- 3. Begin reading the text aloud. For second grade I prefer to read aloud some sections of the book allowing the students to practice listening. Then as selections are read aloud whole class discussion can take place.
- 4. In the book there are many uses of propaganda and advertisements. These are the sections of the book where students will be grouped to discuss the significance of the article, poster or whatever form of propaganda or advertisement is used.
- 5. As the class reads through the text, the children should record important information relative to working women, for example, names of actual women or jobs held by women.
- 6. After several weeks, once the book is completed, the students will begin to gather all recorded data about women in the workplace in an effort to compose the dramatic presentation. A sample of the introduction of the presentation follows.
Introduction: (students who will be depicting women will be standing in “V” shape; lights out with a spotlight on each person as they speak.)
First Narrator: They said we didn’t have the physical, emotional, or mechanical ability to do a man’s job. Discrimination in the workplace was nothing new to us for we had been barred from jobs for years, especially those that are high paying. But by 1941, the president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt knew he needed us to fill positions in the defense industry. He assigned his wife to commission us.
(Lights are off and someone shouts): “Extra, Extra, Read all about it! Women wanted! Wages paid! No experience necessary! Permanent work! Excellent opportunity for advancement!”
Second Narrator: The women featured in this presentation are just a few of some real women who struggled to have a place in the man’s workplace. Many other phenomenal women also made contributions in the workplace.
** The students will develop the remainder of the presentation as they record names of actual women and information about the women featured in the text. This will be performed as part our team culminating performance.
- 1. Complete a biopoem on Molly or another character in the story.
- ____Biopoem Format:
- ____First Name
- ____Relative of
- ____Lover of _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Who feels _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Who needs _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Who fears _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Who gives _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Who would like to see _____ , _____ , _____ .
- ____Resident of _____
- ____Last Name _____
- 2. How is _____ like a person you know?
- 3. Five to ten birthday or Christmas gifts for Molly.
- 4. Write a personal letter to Molly or one of the characters in the story.
- 5. Design a postcard with a message to a friend about the story.
- 6. Design a book jacket that illustrates the setting of the story.
- 7. What was the main conflict in the story and how was it resolved?
- 8. Could these stories have taken place in your town? Why or why not?
- 9. Write a short poem about one of the themes in the story.
- 10. Select a scene or event and convert it into a dramatic presentation.
- 11. Compose five interview questions for Molly.
- 12. Write a letter to a friend recommending this book.
- 13. Make a dictionary of twenty-five words important to the story.
- 14. Did this story change your way of thinking in any way? Explain.
- 15. Create a patchwork quilt with signs and symbols that are significant to the story.
- 16. Read other literature that gives perspectives on war from children in other countries.
- 17. Write a how-to paragraph about making a food described in one of the stories.
- 18. Devise a scavenger hunt similar to that in Molly Saves the Day.
- 19. Make a scrap book that includes pictures based on the book.
- 20. Construct the McIntire family tree.
- 21. Broadcast a book review for any or all of the books.
- 22. Tape-record an important conversation from the book.
- 23. Give a television presentation or film preview of the book.
- 24. Write a movie script for part of the book.
- 25. Write a new adventure or experience for Molly.
Illustrated with photographs, depicts working-women’s lives during the war years.
Geisel, Theodore (Dr. Seuss). The Butter Battle Book New York: Random House, 1984.
The Yooks and the Zooks are engaged in long-running war. They each try to outdo each other by developing more and more sophisticated weaponry.
McDonald, Margaret Read. “The War Between the Sandpipers and the Whales” in Peace Tales: World Folktales to Talk About. Connecticut: Linnet Books, 1992.
A collection of folktales from cultures around the world, reflecting different aspects of war and peace.
Tripp, Valerie. American Girls Collection: Meet Molly, Molly Learns a Lesson Molly’s Surprise Happy Birthday Molly, Molly Saves the Day and Changes for Molly. New York: Scholastic, 1990.
A historical fictional account of one girl’s life and her family during World War II.
Offers justification for using nonfiction in the elementary classroom.
Gunning, Thomas G. Creating Reading Instruction for all Children. Massachusetts: Allyn and Bacon 1996.
Techniques and methods for reading instruction.
Huck, Charlotte, Susan Hepler, and Janet Hickman. Children’s Literature in the Elementary School. 5th. edition, New York, 1976.
Gives descriptions of genres of literature and examples of each.
Levstik, Linda S. (1993). “Making the Past Come to Life”. In Fact and Fiction: Literature Across the Curriculum. Edited by Bernice E. Cullinan. International Reading Association. Newark Delaware. 1993.
Gives clarification for using historical fiction in the classroom.
Probst, R. (1988). “Dialogue with Text”. English Journal, 77 (1), 32-38.
Describes techniques for showing readers how to experience literature.
Valgos, F. Marie. (1994) ” Selling Rosie the Riveter: How Advertisements in Ladies Home Journal Sold American Women Their Role During World War II”. Explains the role advertisements and propaganda played in attracting women to the workforce during the Forties.
A collection of interviews of women who lived during the Forties. The women give personal accounts of what life was like for women in the home, and workforce.
“How War Drive Hits Home.” Business Week (March 10, 1945): 15-16. Analyzes how war affected the home front especially the civilian economy.
Pilson, Brenda (1997). “Women in the Skies”. Creative Classroom. March/April 1997, 56-58.
A dramatic poem that celebrates 13 women aviators who overcame obstacles and flew to the top of their dreams.
“Women’s Place.” Business Week (May 16, 1942): 20-22.
Shows the results of a survey that indicated positive and negative effects of women joining the workforce.
“Women at Work.” Newsweek (January 15, 1942): 36.
Gives estimations, according to the Women’ s Bureau of the U. S. Department of Labor, of the total number of women employed in Arms Plants at the end of 1941.
“Women for War.” Business Week (August 15, 1942): 24.
The U. S. Employment Service studied registration cards belonging to women who were interested in working during the war. The results indicated who would qualify for vocational training.
Motion picture that depicts the image of working women during World War II.
Tune-In. Sunburst Communications. Pleasantville, New York.
Compilation of popular radio broadcast shows from the Forties and Fifties.
Evans, Sara M. Born for Liberty: A History of Women in America. New York: The Free Press, 1989.
Frank, Miriam, Marilyn Ziebarth, and Connie Field. The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter: The Story of Three Million Working Women During World War II. Emeryville, CA: Clarity Educational Productions, 1982.
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