Monday, January 9, 2017

World War II Homeschool Unit and Lesson Plan

(click top or bottom section to enlarge)
I feel like World War II consumed so much of our year, although the unit itself took only a couple of months. But I've been living in that time period ever since we studied WWI last year. I got to travel to London and Berlin during that time too, which only increased my fascination. But it also felt daunting to actually start this unit, because there is just SO MUCH. Each aspect could be a whole course of study in itself! Pearl Harbor! Hiroshima! Iwo Jima! The Holocaust! The Battle of the Bulge! I just felt so overwhelmed.

Finally I decided to just plow ahead, knowing we'd fail to do some of it justice, and I think what we ended up with was a pretty good overview. I had been reading about the War quite extensively myself all year, and even though I didn't systematically share all the things I learned with the children, I found things coming back to my memory surprisingly often, and I felt like it gave color and interest to so many subjects. I'll mention some of the books I read on the pages about individual topics, but a couple general favorites were The Gathering Storm (by Churchill himself!), Lines of Battle (a book my WWII-expert friend lent me—it's a collection of actual letters from soldiers, arranged chronologically—surprisingly absorbing and heartbreaking), In the Garden of Beasts (a fascinating portrait of the American ambassador to Germany right before the war. I also wrote about this one here) and "Those Angry Days," (really interesting look at the little-known ins and outs of the build-up to war in the U.S.).

Here are a few posts on WWII-related places I visited:

The Brandenburg Gate, and some pictures of before and after WWII in Berlin

The Reichstag Building and the New Synagogue in Berlin

Site of the Potsdam Conference

Thoughts on war and suffering

On to the unit itself! Here are some resources that didn't fit on my other posts.

Link to my World War II Unit Pinterest Board, so you can see many of these resources in one place (plus a few I pinned but didn't use).

Propaganda posters from WWII. Here's a post from our lesson on propaganda a few years ago.

We talked about inflation that day too, come to think of it. And this video is a funny illustration of inflation in Germany before WWII. Want to do more with inflation? This auction we did was SO much fun! are a whole bunch more kind-of-related Economics links and resources.

A short video about Adolf Hitler

Biographical information on Adolf Hitler, including pictures

A rare recording of Hitler speaking in his normal voice--very interesting

Some interactive maps of the war: these about the "blitzkrieg" portion of the war, this one, and this one (time lapse)

These "Horrible Histories" clips can be pretty funny. This is kind of an overview of WWII.

Video about the plot to assassinate Hitler, and more about the man who attempted it. Every time I learn about this I wonder how things could have turned out differently!

After the war, there is much more fascinating history, of course! Here's a post about my visit to and thoughts about the Berlin Wall. Also some book recommendations about the Berlin Wall and East Germany under communism (Stastiland and The Collapse were both great.)

But my single favorite post-war story is probably this one, about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' "Dutch Potato Project." A beautiful beginning to a discussion about forgiveness and reconciliation.

And of course, we always love to talk about our friend Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin "Candy Bomber," and another example of how one person doing good can help improve the lives of countless people.

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