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The ABCs of World War II: Creating a Children’s Picture Book

Many students learn best through visual exploration and creative expression. The act of artistic creation can help them internalize a subject better than any text-driven lesson. This activity will give students an opportunity to show their creativity while they learn important WWII vocabulary.

Students will learn about World War II by researching vocabulary and creating a WWII ABCs book.

Grade Level: 7-12

Historical Thinking Standard 4—the student conducts historical research by using a variety of sources.

Content Era 8 (1929-1945), Standard 3—the student understands the causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of the U.S. in world affairs.

Time Requirement: Two to three class periods, along with time to work outside of class.

Download a printable pdf version of this lesson plan

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1. Explain to students that this activity is related to the people, places, events, and equipment of WWII.

2.Working in groups, students are to design, research, and produce a WWII ABCs book designed for elementary age students.

  • Remind students that they are assuming the role of a teacher and that their book is for elementary age students and should be age appropriate.
  • The book should be at least 26 pages long (one page per letter) and each page must be illustrated. These illustrations should be a combination of student created work and copies of primary source material such as drawings, sketches, collages, and paintings. Example: A is for Allies, B is for Battleship…
  • Each page must contain simple explanatory text (a definition of the word or an example).
  • The book may be bound with cardstock or other material and stapled, with an illustrated cover.
  • A list of WWII vocabulary words follows. Students should use the included list as a starting point and spend some time researching other possible words.

3. An alternative strategy is to assign each student in your class a different letter of the alphabet to design a page for the WWII ABCs book. Make sure each student uses the same size paper.

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Componentsassessment include the completed book or the individually designed page. You may wish to grade individual aspects of this assignment: research content, neatness, creativity, accuracy, etc.

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Have students create an ABC book for the history of their hometown. Students may also write a topic/theme specific WWII book or write a book for a different age group.

Students may also read their books aloud to an elementary age class.

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Directions: Use this vocabulary as a starting point for your book. You may supplement this list with your own words.

Atlantic Wall, Allies, Axis, airborne, armada, Anderson shelter, amphibious, alliance, Auschwitz

Bombardment, bunker, beaches, Britain, battleship, Bailey bridge, barrage balloon, Blitzkrieg

Churchill, courage, camouflage, cryptography, convoy, camaraderie, Chennault, civil defense, Coral Sea

D-Day, Dunkirk, Doolittle, de Gaulle, dictator, democracy

English Channel, Eisenhower, Enigma, El Alamein, espionage, evacuate

Foxhole, fortification, flame-thrower, flak, Flying Tigers, Free French, fascist, fuselage

Gold Beach, glider, Germans, G.I., Guadalcanal, Guam, gas mask, grenade,

Higgins boat, hedgehog, hedgerow, home front, helmet, Halsey, Hiroshima,

Invasion, incoming, Iwo Jima, island hopping, Italy, imperial, infantry, intelligence

Juno Beach, jump zone, June 6th, jeep

K-ration, kamikaze, Kursk

Landing craft, Luftwaffe, land mine, Lend-Lease, Leyte, Los Alamos, London, land girl, liberation

Morale, Montgomery, medic, minesweeper, Manhattan Project, Midway, Moscow, mine

Normandy, Navy, Nagasaki, Nimitz, North Africa, Nuremberg Trials

Overlord, Omaha, OSS, Okinawa, occupation

Paratrooper, Pointe-du-Hoc, Panzer, pillbox, Paris, Patton, Pearl Harbor, penicillin, propaganda

Quisling, Quebec Conference, Elwood Quesada, Manuel Quezon, Quonset hut

Rommel, radar, Roosevelt, Rangers, rationing, Resistance,

Sabotage, submarine, Sword Beach, Seabees, Stalin, Second Front

Teamwork, tank, Tarawa, Tito, Tojo, Tokyo, Truman

Utah Beach, U-boat, uniform, Ultra, USO, United States

Victory, V-1 rocket, V-mail, V-E Day, V-J Day, victory garden

World War II, Wake Island, WAC, WAVES, war bonds

X-ray, XX Committee, X-craft, X-

Yalta Conference, Yank, Yamamoto, USS Yorktown, Yamato

Zero, Operation Zeppelin, Zhukov, Zuikaku

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Download a printable pdf version of this lesson plan

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