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9-12 > Literature

Children of War

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Children of War
Grade Level  6-8, 9-12
Subject Area  language arts

Curriculum Focus
  world history, sociology, psychology, media literacy
Duration  2 weeks

  Students will read, analyze, and discuss excerpts from children’s war diaries; and create a storyboard for a public service announcement on children’s rights in wartime.

  A computer with Internet access, poster supplies, presentation software (optional)

Write the following quote from Herbert Hoover on the board:

“Older men declare war. But it is youth that must fight and die. And it is youth who must inherit the tribulation, the sorrow, and the triumphs that are the aftermath of war.”
Herbert Hoover
June 27, 1944

Hold a class discussion to bring students to the realization that when wars are fought in remote parts of the world, we often feel detached from the situation. For those who live in the midst of war, however, the experience is all too real.

  1. Have students watch the following public service announcement (PSA) on children’s rights in wartime. Then hold a class discussion using questions from part one of thequestion sheet.

Children Have the Right to Protection in Times of War

28.8 kbps

56 kbps

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  2. Have students read the excerpts from children’s diaries of war. Divide students into small groups and assign each group one of the three sets of excerpts. Each group may read aloud to each other or read silently. Then hold a class discussion on each set of excerpts using the questions from part 2 of thequestion sheet.
Zlata’s Diary
World War II Diaries
Diaries of Northern Ireland
  3. Work with students to create a storyboard for their own PSA on children’s rights during wartime using thesteps for creating a storyboard.

  Have students display and present their completed storyboards to the class. When all the storyboards have been presented, discuss which boards had a powerful message and why.

  1. Have students write a series of interview questions for one of the diary writers. A partner can respond to the questions from the perceived perspective of the author.
  2. Encourage students to research the history of each conflict featured here to learn more about who was involved and locate each diary writer’s home on a map of the world. Instruct students to use the Internet to identify landmarks near the child author’s home. If a street map and address are available, have them find the street and house or apartment. They should describe how the neighborhood would have appeared at the time the diary was written.

Related Links
  UNICEF: Children in War
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust
The Anne Frank House
Anne Frank Online

Suggested Reading
  Opal : The Journal of an Understanding Heart
(Opal Whitely, adapted by Jane Boulton, Crown, 1995.)

  Our thanks to Ken Zelasko and Kelley Devine for their consultation. Ken is an English teacher in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kelley is an English teacher in Rockville, Maryland.