Friday, March 5, 2021

WWII Part 2: Spy School

 Last week we studied Pearl Harbor, so we continued our study of WWII in the Pacific Theater. We started the week by reading Masterbook's America's Story 3, Chapter 11. We learned that breaking the Japanese code was essential in America defeating the Japanese navy at Midway. Our kids remembered learning about the Navajo Code Talkers when we visited Window Rock and talked to a Navajo guide at Canyon de Chelly a few years ago, but they did not realize that there were many different codes used by different countries during WWII. We read The Unbreakable Code to revisit the Code Talkers.

CREATIVE WRITING PROMPT: You just broke a code that could change the course of history. What did you discover? Who did you tell? What happened?

We then did a fun Growth Mindset Escape Room from Think Tank on TPT to introduce other codes. She also has a Pearl Harbor activity, but I did not know about it when I did my lesson planning. This activity was a huge hit with our three older children (2nd, 5th, and 6th grade), and really encouraged teamwork.



Throughout the week we read Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids



By the end of the week, all of my kids have decided that they want to be spies. They even made up their own secret code.



The International Spy Museum offers free lesson plans and activities. After watching many of the videos and completing the worksheets, the kids dressed up in their disguises, made some spy gadgets, and were sent to the woods on a mission. 



They even made a DIY Spy Gadget video for their young recruits.


Meanwhile, I left clues throughout the woods and yard alerting them to the fact that the mission they were chasing was not the real mission, and that there was a much more important, time-sensitive mission that they had to complete. The clues led them back inside the house where the final clue was written on the white board in code. 



They recognized the code as pigpen from their escape room activity that we did earlier in the week, and were able to crack the code just in time. "If you can read this bake cookies." 



We also learned that spies need to have an excellent memory and ability to filter out whether information could be relevant or not. To test our little learners I gave them a spy entrance exam. I filled a box with random items, including some WWII Replica Memorabilia


I marched the children into the room and told them that they were in a meeting with a high ranking military officer. The officer received a telegram and had to leave the room momentarily. They would have only minutes to check out the contents of the box. I left the room and walked back in a few minutes later. I then tested their ability to think quickly and speak smoothly when I accused them of touching the contents of the box. 


We went on with our lessons and later in the day I asked them to report in with their spy agency and relay what items were in the box and what information they had gathered. 

Spies, Code Breakers, and Secret Agents: A World War II Book for Kids has an entire chapter on some WWII secret agents, but I also wanted us to study Dietrich Bonhoeffer. We listened to Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In The Midst of Wickedness on Audible, and our 6th grader started reading independently The Faithful Spy.


Our boys took quite an interest in WWII planes last week, so I purchased a Step-by-Step drawing book. They turned several of their 2D drawings into 3D cardboard planes and had their own battles. 



We also watched videos from the Naval Aviation Museum on WWII aircraft.

I hope your little learners enjoy these activities as much as our children did! Share you pictures with us on Instagram @pocketful_of_treasures. Check out the Homeschool tab for more inspiration for your homeschool.


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