Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Our Level 4 (8th Grade) Six Week Study on World War II

Mater Amabilis™ gives some lesson plans for History in Level 4 (8th grade) in which a student studies national history for twelve weeks followed by four six-week terms chosen from six options.

In the first term, First Son will follow the Mater Amabilis™ study reasonably closely, modified only a little to add in a few Kansas-related books. I've posted those plans in the Mater Amabilis™ facebook group for those that are interested.

Beginning in the second term, First Son will spend six weeks studying World War I. I posted the plans for that study on the blog. As I mentioned there, I already owned a book on both world wars from Usborne: The World Wars by Paul Dowswell, Ruth Brocklehurst, and Henry Brook. You can find it on Amazon, but I bought my copy from a friend who sells Usborne books.

Mater Amabilis™ recommends Witness to History: World War II by Sean Connolly as the main book and I requested a copy from PaperBackSwap. I liked the aspect of the eyewitness accounts so I decided to use it in addition to the Usborne book.

I haven't used these plans yet and there's a good chance I've scheduled more than my rising eighth grader will be comfortable doing in the time suggested for history. We'll give it a try, though. (It's hard to know for certain, but it's possible my second child will manage these plans perfectly well.) I've modified the Mater Amabilis™plans considerably to use the Usborne book, but I have no reason to believe they're really better than those. It's also possible these plans would work just as well if you followed them and left out the Usborne book. There's a lot here.

Mater Amabilis™ says history at this level should take about 45 minutes each day three times a week. In addition, a supplemental reading book should be chose from the recommended books. I haven't picked a supplemental reading book yet; there are just so many good ones I'm still considering my options.

Our Main Resources

Optional Resources

Week 1

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 123-129 – Narrate. (The Second World War, The world at war, The Rise of dictators, The fragile democracies)

Lesson 2
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 398-399, 406-407, 412, 408-409. (The Rise of Fascism 1922-1939, Weimar and Hitler 1919-1939, German Expansion 1938-1939, The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939)
The World Wars p 130-133 (Hitler’s Germany, The Road to War)
Notebook: Why do you think World War II happened?

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 135-143 (War begins in Europe, War breaks out, The fall of Western Europe, The battle for Britain, Germany invades Eastern Europe)
World War II p 8-13 (Blitzkrieg, The Battle of Britain, The Blitz)
Stories of Karol chapters 3-4: September 1, 1939 and Hitler’s “New Order” (I decided to assign this book as a saint biography, so First Son won't read it in this lesson.)
A letter from Caryll Houselander in Caryll Houselander: Essential Writings (p 82-84) in which she speaks of how to remain faithful in the dark time of war. 
Notebook: Describe Hitler’s successes early in the war or write about the future Pope’s experiences on September 1st.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 2

Lesson 1
Listen to excerpts of speeches by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill:
  1. "I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat" - 13 May 1940
  2. "We shall fight on the beaches" - 18 June 1940
  3. "Never in the field of human conflict" - 20 August 1940
Notebook: Written narration on the events at Dunkirk.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 144-151 (European War to World War, Operation Barbarossa, The Siege of Leningrad, Pearl Harbor)
World War II p 14-15 (Pearl Harbor)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 416-417. (War in the Pacific 1941-1945)
Listen to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s address to congress on December 8th. You can follow along with the transcript of the speech in your notebook.
Notebook: Written narration on the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 152-157. (Japan’s new empire, Underground resistance, The home front)
Remember Pearl Harbor by Thomas B. Allen (from our library) – Read chapter 2.
Read the text of the speech along with some context, printed in your binder.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 3

Lesson 1
Read articles from and the Smithsonian on the Internment camps.
Gajin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner (from the library)
Notebook: Write a position paper on the Japanese-American internment camps.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 158-163 (The War in North Africa, Life in occupied territories, The battle of the Atlantic)
World War II p 16-17 (Fighting in North Africa)

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 164-169 (Propaganda, The Holocaust, Auschwitz-Birkenau)
World War II p 40-41 (The Holocaust)
Read Elie Wisel’s “Listen to the silent screams” speech to mark the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, printed in your binder. Note: the Hebrew words in bold are the opening words of Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead.
Watch Elie Wiesel addressing the Auschwitz survivors gathered in Krakow for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz- Birkenau.
Listen to Pope John Paul II’s “Holocaust Speech,” given at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial in Israel, in 2000. The text of the speech is printed in your binder.
Notebook: Write a prayer for the victims of the Holocaust and their families.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 4

Lesson 1
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 414-415 (War in the West 1939-1945)
Look at the maps of the Battles of the Coral Sea and Midway in your binder. Keep them in front of you as you read about the battles.
The World Wars p 170-173 (The Tide Turns, Coral Sea and Midway)
Find Midway Island on the globe.
Read the article on Midway at Eyewitness to History.
Notebook: Written narration on Midway.

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 174-181 (The Battle of Stalingrad, The death of an army, The secret war, Kursk)
World War II p 20-21 (The Soviet Defense)
Notebook: Written narration on the Battle of Stalingrad.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 182-189 (Allied bombing in Europe, Bombs, Bombers, Battle of the Titans)
World War II p 24-25 (The Enemy Below)
Watch video of Nazi V-2 rocket launches.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 5

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 190-201 (Women on the front lines, Island fighting, Entertaining the troops, Special forces, The Italian campaign, War in the Pacific)
World War II p 28-33 (War in the Pacific, Defending Australia, Advancing through Italy)

Lesson 2
The World Wars p 202-207 (The Defeat of Germany, Preparing for D-Day, The D-Day Landings)
World War II p 34-35 (D-Day)
Notebook: Written narration on D-Day.
Our library also has a DVD called Eisenhower on D-Day I may have First Son watch when the others aren't around.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 208-223 (Hitler – the military commander, Fighting for France, Mother of Invention, Special Relationships, Germany’s ill-fated cities, To Germany’s Eastern border, Into Germany from the West, The fall of Berlin)
World War II p 36-39, 46-47 (Air Raids on Germany, The Battle of the Bulge, V-E Day)
Listen to part of Churchill’s victory speech.
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

Week 6

Lesson 1
The World Wars p 224-231 (The defeat of Japan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, The Manhattan Project, Hiroshima & Nagasaki)
World War II p 42-43, 48- (Through Burma, The Atomic Bomb)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 418 (Peace in the Pacific 1945-1948)

Lesson 2
Hiroshima by Harris p 22-45 (Making the Decision, Mixed Motives, Flight over Japan, Blinding Flash, Burning Wind, Scenes of Horror, Heroes’ Welcome, The Destroyed City, The News Breaks, Second Strike, Japan Surrenders, Invisible Rays, Occupied Japan)
Watch video footage of Hiroshima before the bomb housed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.
Notebook: Position paper on the use of the atomic bomb to end World War II.

Lesson 3
The World Wars p 232-238 (The world after the war, The end of the war, The aftermath of the war, The war and the 20th century)
World War II p 50-51 (What Have We Learned from World War II?)
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia p 419-420 (The United Nations 1945-1948, Italy and the Balkans 1943-1949).
Notebook: What did you learn from this study of World War II?
Add an event to your Book of Centuries from this week.

My dad suggests we watch The Longest Day at the end of our study, but I haven't decided whether we will.


  1. This is fabulous! So was your earlier post on WWI plans---thank you so much for sharing. I have a rising 8th grader and am using Mater Amabilis as well.

  2. So glad you find it helpful, Melissa! Are you in the Mater Amabilis facebook group? There are a number of people sharing Level 4 resources (and others, too).

  3. I am in the facebook group and am finding it very helpful. Thank you for sharing your resources and ideas.


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