December 7 marks the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Museum has a large collection of educational resources to help you commemorate this “date which will live in infamy” in your classroom.
From November 30 through December 4, the Museum connected daily with the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on O’ahu for live student webinars. Viewers had the opportunity to ask questions in real-time of Museum Educator Kate Fitzgerald and National Park Service Rangers Alex and Jason stationed near the USS Arizona Memorial. If you missed one of these programs, check out the video on the Museum’s YouTube channel.
To supplement the webinar viewing, visit the Museum’s one-stop shop for curriculum resources: From the Collection to the Classroom. The lesson plan “Pearl Harbor: Analyzing FDR’s Pearl Harbor Address” helps students envision FDR’s speech writing process as he and his team craft the address to Congress to ask for a war declaration against Japan. They’ll examine this well-known primary source to deduce why Roosevelt made those critical edits to the address in the eleventh hour. The lesson plan also features a primary and secondary source comparison, for students to analyze what sort of information they can and cannot learn about the attack from each source. Related media, maps, essays, and oral histories are also available on the website.
The attack on Pearl Harbor and its aftermath transformed the lives of many Americans, including students. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Hawaii or the West Coast of the continental United States. Through the Museum’s collection of WWII high school yearbooks, students can explore how the lives of their counterparts changed throughout war. Two particularly compelling yearbooks are from McKinley High School in Honolulu and Excelsior Union High School in Artesia, California. Flip through the McKinley pages to get a glimpse of an extremely active student body and alums, many of Japanese descent, who served and gave their lives during the war. The Artesia yearbook documents how the Japanese club at the school was suddenly disbanded, following the removal of its members from the school and community after being sent to incarceration centers in remote parts of the country.
Provide your students an opportunity for reflection on this solemn anniversary. Utilize the Museum’s “Design a WWII Memorial” DiscoLibrary activity on Flipgrid. Using the USS Arizona Memorial as inspiration, students record a video to describe their design, the process, and the meaning of their memorial, and watch their classmates’ responses. Note: You must be logged in to Flipgrid to view this activity.
Your classroom discussion about the Pearl Harbor attack is a pathway to teaching other critical moments and themes in history. We hope you utilize these free Museum resources to enhance your curriculum. Share with us how you teach the attack on Pearl Harbor by joining the K-12 Education Facebook community or tag us on Twitter at @WWIIEducation.
The Path to Pearl Harbor
On December 7, 1941, Japan staged a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, decimating the US Pacific Fleet. When Germany and Italy declared war on the United States days later, America found itself in a global war.