K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education
black and white photo of 4-H boys holding their posters

(Provided by the Green 'N' Growing Collection (The History of Home Demonstration and 4-H Youth Development in North Carolina), Special Collections, North Carolina State University Libraries. More about the photograph)

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  • Effects of civic action: In this lesson, secondary students will analyze primary source materials to investigate how 4-H clubs made an impact on the home front in completing projects that supported the war effort during World War II. This lesson should be taught at the end of a World War II unit.
  • World War II at home: Victory Gardens: Students will learn about home front activities during World War II. Using primary source documents and photographs, students will discover how children their own age participated by growing Victory Gardens. They will design their own gardens and propaganda posters.
  • Grooming in 1930s North Carolina: Using primary source materials, this lesson plan provides a glimpse into the lives of girls and women from the 1930s and will give students the opportunity to study what was considered attractive for the time, how the Depression affected grooming practices, and the universal concept of healthful living.

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Learning outcomes

Students will be able to answer the following essential questions:

  • What effects did World War II have on American civilians?
  • How did the 4-H program contribute to the war effort?
  • What impact can volunteerism have on society?

Students will:

  • examine and interpret a primary source document
  • analyze cause and effect relationships
  • gain a deeper understanding of community service

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

2–3 90-minute class periods

Materials/Resources

Technology resources

  • overhead
  • computer with internet access

Pre-activities

Before this activity, students should have background knowledge of:

  • the causes of United States involvement in World War II
  • how United States industry, labor, and media mobilized for defense
  • propaganda tools

Activities

Preview activity

Project the image showing children displaying their Victory Garden posters. Have students answer the following questions:

  • What do you see in the image?
  • Who are the children?
  • What are the children doing?
  • How do you think they feel?
  • What do you think is the purpose of their “signs?”
  • What do you think is the date of this image?
  • How might this picture relate to World War II? Why?

Facilitating a discussion based on these questions will allow students to gain the conceptual information necessary to understand how the 4-H program contributed to the war effort through the Feed a Fighter campaign.

Activity

  1. Place students in groups of two.
  2. Give each partnership a copy of both Roosevelt’s Message to Congress and the “4-H Victory Garden” pamphlet. Also give each student two copies of the written document analysis worksheet.
  3. Students will read the documents and complete a written document analysis worksheet for
    each document. (This will take more than one class period to complete.)
  4. When students have finished, pull the class back together to discuss the documents. Facilitate a discussion based on the analysis worksheet by having each partnership share responses to at least one of the document information questions.
  5. As a processing activity, have each student develop their own Victory Garden poster that illustrates the main ideas/goals of Roosevelt’s food program and the 4-H Feed a Fighter. The poster will demonstrate understanding of the program and its contributions. Tell students their poster should:
    • illustrate the goals of the program
    • utilize techniques of propaganda to convey your message
    • use correct spelling and grammar
    • include historically accurate information for the time period

Assessment

As an educator in an alternative school, I like to use alternative assessments whenever possible to allow my students an opportunity to demonstrate their depth of knowledge and ability to relate content to their lives or current events/issues. This assessment will have two components:

  1. Students will each identify a need in the community and develop a plan of action to address the need and/or bring attention to it. Each student will log a minimum of five hours community service to address the identified issue. Students will document their volunteer work by keeping a journal that includes photos accompanied by written entries to show their progress.
  2. The second component is an essay based on the following prompt:

    The year is 1942 and President Franklin Roosevelt has proclaimed the week of April 5–11 as National Mobilization Week for farm youth. He said, “Let your Head, Heart, Hands, and Health truly be dedicated to your country which needs them now as never before.”

    • What is the meaning of the quote?
    • What was the response to the quote?
    • How does it relate to today?

Supplementary information

Modifications

This lesson has been used with students in an alternative setting with students at risk of dropping out due to academic issues. It may only need minor adjustments to meet the individual needs or special circumstances of your students.

Critical vocabulary

rationing
Establishing fixed allotments of goods deemed essential for the military.
extension agent
A consultant that is employed by the federal and state governments to give information about agriculture and home economics.
Victory Gardens
Gardens planted in response to the United States government’s request for individuals to provide their own fruits and vegetables to reduce the demand on the public food supply.

  • Common Core State Standards
    • English Language Arts (2010)
      • History/Social Studies

        • Grades 11-12
          • 11-12.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
        • Grades 9-10
          • 9-10.LH.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • United States History II

        • USH.H.1 Apply the four interconnected dimensions of historical thinking to the United States History Essential Standards in order to understand the creation and development of the United States over time. USH.H.1.1 Use Chronological thinking to: Identify the...
        • USH.H.7 Understand the impact of war on American politics, economics, society and culture. USH.H.7.1 Explain the impact of wars on American politics since Reconstruction (e.g., spheres of influence, isolationist practices, containment policies, first and second...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 10

  • Goal 4: The learner will explore active roles as a citizen at the local, state, and national levels of government.
    • Objective 4.06: Describe the benefits of civic participation.
  • Goal 7: The learner will investigate how and why individuals and groups make economic choices.
    • Objective 7.02: Explain how scarcity influences producers and consumers to make choices.

Grade 11–12 — United States History

  • Goal 10: World War II and the Beginning of the Cold War (1930s-1963) - The learner will analyze United States involvement in World War II and the war's influence on international affairs in following decades.
    • Objective 10.03: Describe and analyze the effects of the war on American economic, social, political, and cultural life.