Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

World War II, part 3: 1945: President Truman and Into Germany to the Atomic Bomb

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray 
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio ...
-We Didn't Start The Fire, Billy Joel

Harry S Truman

33rd President
Served: 1945-1953
Party: Democrat 
Served in the National Guard during World War 1
Senator from Missouri
Served as Vice President for Franklin Roosevelt and Assumed office after the death of FDR
Soon after is inauguration, the Germans surrendered in WW II – then after the 2 atomic bombs were dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan surrendered
The Cold War begins – period of tension and conflict between the Soviet Union and the US which resulted in
creation of the National Security Act and reorganization of military forces
Civil Rights – organization of committees to address fair employment acts and voting rights for blacks
NATO established – North Atlantic Treaty Organization – established military peace between European countries not under Soviet control
Korean War – US involved to stop communist North Korea from invading S. Korea
Total interior of the White House removed and rebuilt due to unsafe conditions
Attempted assassination on Truman resulted in policeman being shot to death
1951 – 22nd amendment ratified to prevent a President from serving more than 2 terms
1958 – Congress passes the Former President’s Act, giving annual pension to former presidents
Namesakes: Truman Library
Truman the Tiger – the mascot for the Missouri Tigers, University of Missouri 
and Harry S Truman College in Chicago.

Timeline and Maps

  • US captured airfields on the island of Iwo Jima, which up until that time had harried US bombing missions to Tokyo. Once the bases were secured, they could then be of use in the impending invasion of the Japanese mainland. After Iwo Jima was declared secured, about three thousand Japanese soldiers were left alive in the island's warren of caves and tunnels. Those who could not bring themselves to commit suicide hid in the caves during the day and came out at night to prowl for provisions. Some did eventually surrender and were surprised that the Americans often received them with compassion.
  • British soldiers liberate a concentration camp in northern Germany and find the first graphic evidence of the Holocaust.Anne.frank.quote
  • On V-E Day (Victory in Europe), the Germans surrender in France. 
  • The US gives Japan an ultimatum to surrender or face "prompt and utter destruction."
  • When Japan fails to respond, the B-29 bomber Enola Gay drops the uramium bomb, Little Boy on Hiroshima.
  • Three days later, the plutonium bomb, Fat Man, is dropped on Nagasaki. The next day Japan surrenders.

The Homefront

Meatless Meals

 "Many families first tried fondue during the war in their search for meals that were nourishing, easy to prepare and used little or no meat."
Cheddar Fondue with bread chunks and soft pretzels for Dinner
Chocolate Fondue with chunks of sponge cake, cookies and fruit for Dessert

Coney Island Dogs and Soft Pretzels

"Refreshment stands at the famous Coney Island amusement park in Brooklyn began selling a special version of the hot dog made by adding a thick meat sauce topping." Another item made popular by street vendors was the soft pretzel.

World War II Activities

Ration Kit

Soldiers often had to rely on ration kits or prepackaged food that was designed to stay fresh, not take up too much room, not weigh too much and have enough calories, carbohydrates, protein and fat to keep them nourished for the whole day. We tried to stay at about ,800 calories, about 50 grams of fat, 40 grams of protein and about 50 grams of carbohydrates. We tried to stay low sodium so that they would not be too thirsty on the battlefield.
We used camping kits for the mess kits.

Physics of Bomb Dropping

"Dropping a bomb from a moving plane from thousands of feet in the air was not an easy task, especially with enemy planes harassing you and anti-aircraft fire coming at you from the ground."
We tested this out by putting a cup on the floor and having the boys take turns dropping a Hershey's Kiss from a standing position, from walking by, and from running by. They noticed that the faster they went and the further up they held the candy bombs, the harder it was to hit their target.
Using Newton's First Law of Motion, we know that since the bomb has been traveling with the plane, it has the same velocity as the plane. When the bombis dropped, it will continue to have that velocity. Since it takes time for the bomb to fall, it will continue to approach the target as it falls.

Submarines and Parachutes

 We learned about submarines and parachutes using toys.
We talked about buoyancy and how submarines worked.

We talked about the skills needed for parachute diving.
Early in World War II, Army officials thought aircraft spotters could help identify the altitude of aircraft by referring to whatever clouds they saw. The system didn't work very well for spotting aircraft, but Army Airforce officials found that the additional information did help them predict approaching weather conditions.


The front lines were sometimes in areas of dense forests and often vehicles were camouflaged from the enemy. 
Go to a place where there are lots of shrubs, leaves or trees, and camouflage yourself or something like a bike. 
 Can someone find you? Have someone stand about 75 feet away and look through binoculars and take some surveillance photographs. How well did you do in camouflaging?
I equipted both of my boys with water bomb grenades and challenged them each to be the first to hit the other one. How hard is it to hide? How hard is it to hit someone with a water balloon without being detected yourself?
 A little time out for a snack.

Search and Rescue

What does a Mom do when she has a carnival party planned in a few days and hasn't been able to collect enough empty cans for the Can Toss game? 
 Well, if her boys have been studying World War II, she would send them on a mission to collect cans from the neighborhood recycle bins, without being seen, of course.
 A little search and rescue mission, of sorts.

 Mission Accomplished.

Reconnaissance Mission

It was important to gather information about enemy resistance. We decided to hold our own reconnaissance mission.  The boys were members of army intelligence hiding in an old abandoned farmhouse on the outskirts of town still held by the enemy. We set up headquarters just after the sun set. Their mission was to map out the block around the area on paper.  They marked each building with a square. They had 5 minutes to accomplish their mission because the soldier enforcing the curfew passes by the house every 6 minutes.
They were to look out for the enemy intelligence headquarters where a meeting is said to be going on at this very moment. 
James' map of his side of the street
For each floor of a building, they marked a horizontal line in the square. For an attic, they drew a triangle on top of the square. For a basement, they drew a square below and put a "B" in the middle. For each floor with a light on, they marked an "X" on that floor. The meeting is going on in the building with the fewest lights on. 
The debriefing after the reconnaissance mission. James is unsure which house the meeting was taking place since a few houses had no lights on.

 Their reward for work well done? Camo Cupcakes, of course.
Quentin and James decorated them.

  • All Those Secrets of the World, Jane Yolen

sources and inspiration:


  1. I just love the way you all learn. This is so impressive. We will be doing world war II next year.
    Blessings, Dawn

  2. I love how real you try to make things. They're able to experience things, instead of just reading or watching things about them. The cupcakes looked yummy! (Can I PLEASE attend your school??)

    I've always enjoyed that Billy Joel song. (It's on my iPod.)

  3. Is this how fondu came about??? And we thought it was fancy! LOL

  4. I love the secret mission to retrieve cans from people's recycle bins.

  5. You so know how to make learning fun! I'll be coming back to all these posts when we get to modern history.

  6. These lessons look amazing! You put so much planning and work into your history lessons - they are just great.


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