30+ of the Best World War II Homeschool Resources

World War 2 resources are plentiful. But which ones are worth using? This list of ideas for middle & high school will enhance your study, especially for topics beyond D-Day & Pearl Harbor.

 

We adored Story of the World. ADORED it. (Still do, in fact. We often reference it for a quick overview or refresher on a topic.)

One of my few homeschool regrets is taking so long to try it out because I heard some bad reviews. I don’t have many regrets, but that is one of them.

BUT.

(There’s always a but.)

Sometimes, we wanted to dive deeper into a topic than she does, particularly when we were studying American history. We did just that when we studied the Revolutionary War & the Civil War. When we studied World War 1, we did a long pause. My public schools mostly glanced right over the topic & I was excited to dig into it. And sometimes, I wanted to add more alternative views than what could possibly be included in a curriculum.

Pausing the regular book & diving into a topic for a few weeks has been our solution. We get to keep the curriculum we love AND benefit from diving into a topic. On a personal level, I enjoy them myself because it gives me a chance to learn quite a bit more than I already knew.

I divide up our in-depth units into general themes. We may stay on the same theme for a few days until everything is completed, or we may cycle through them so we are doing something new each day.

The themes I used for this unit study included:

  1. So it begins (conditions that led us back into another world war)
  2. War in Africa
  3. London Blitz
  4. Day-to-Day Life: On the American Homefront
  5. Propaganda
  6. And So It Ends (atomic bomb, peace treaties, Nuremberg Trials)

Creating a World War 2 Unit Study

Creating a homeschool unit study doesn’t have to be intimidating. We’re lucky to live in a time when we have so many free resources readily available. Creating a unit study that is customized to your own family’s interests is my favorite thing about them.

  1. When I create a new unit, my first step is to decide how long we will do it. And then I add at least one more week on — it always takes us longer than I expected!
  2. Next, I decide if we want to do brief overviews of several topics or a deep dive into just a couple of them. There isn’t a right answer; both serve their purpose. The first time we studied World War 2, I chose to do an overview. My kiddos were in 2nd-7th grade & had some knowledge, but we hadn’t studied it in a structured way. I wanted to lay a foundation of basic knowledge on which they could then add layers of knowledge.
  3. Next up, narrow down your topics. For our first go-round, my themes were So It Begins (conditions that led us back into a world war), War in Africa, London Blitz, On the American Homefront, Propaganda, And So It Ends (atomic bomb, peace treaties, Nuremberg Trials).
  4. Next, what weeks are you going to do it? What else is going on that week? How long will you do it each day? It’s really easy to make your unit study plans — and then realize they aren’t going to work for the time you have to do it!
  5. Finally, it’s time to have fun. What kinds of resources are your favorite? We love videos, so I like to add those every day. I don’t enjoy reading out loud, so I schedule no more than 30 minutes of that. (We’re in the car quite a bit, so listening to audiobooks & podcasts is an option for us.) Does your family enjoy creating art? Are you science-minded? Keep all of that in mind as you start locating resources.

The Road to World War 2

Into the Jaws of death image

London Blitz

RELATED: Resources for World War 1

Pearl Harbor & Japanese Internment Camps

Navajo Code Talkers

On the American Home Front

The first time we completed this unit, the American home front section was a surprising hit for all of us. I knew my daughter & I would love it, but I didn’t expect my boys to ask for more of it.

Did you know that the National Park Service pays homage to all of the Rosie the Riveters?! We had no idea! The Rosie the Riveter WWII Homefront National Historical Park is located near San Fransisco. And if that isn’t on your field trip list, check out their NPS site for all sorts of learning materials.

Teaching about the Holocaust

Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, located in Jerusalem, has the largest collection of primary sources relating to the Holocaust. With almost 5,000,000 names recorded, they work to match stories & photos to each name. This website is THE resource you need to tell the story of the Holocaust.

While these guidelines from the US Holocaust Memorial Museum specifically address the difficulties with teaching children about concentration camps, I think they are fantastic guidelines for teaching about any difficult subject.

World War 2 Videos

The Nuclear Bomb

Beyond Europe: World War 2 in the Rest of the World

Other World War 2 Resources

Museums & Historical Sites about the Second World War

Museum websites are one of my first stops when I’m searching for primary sources, activity ideas, virtual tours, lesson plans, etc. Their educational sections are often far more helpful than Google! I’ve also found eager help when I’ve reached out to educational coordinators for many museums.

Books about World War 2

Teaching about horrific events, including World War 2, in an age-appropriate way is often a challenge. Can your youngest handle the same details that your oldest did? What images are too graphic? How do you teach the serious impact without overwhelming your kiddos?

While we’re a big documentary family, when it comes to young kids, I always introduced heavy topics via books. I liked to start with gentle books that were focused on the time period, skirted around the issue, or focused on the helpers. (For example, books like Twenty & Ten, The Grand Mosque of Paris, and Rosie the Riveter: The Legacy of an American Icon.)

World War 2 Chapter Books for Grades 4-6

  • What was Pearl Harbor?
  • Twenty & Ten (A sweet, short story of French children & Jewish children. The audiobook is well done.)
  • What was the bombing of Hiroshima?
  • Sadako & the Thousand Paper Cranes
  • Woeful Second World War by Horrible Histories (or the video version)

Historical Fiction for Middle Schoolers

World War 2 Graphic Novels

  • Sophie Scholl: Daring Activist of World War II
  • They Called Us Enemy
  • The Courageous Six Triple Eight: The All-Black Female Battalion of World War II
  • Displacement
  • We Hereby Refuse

Memoirs & Biographies

  • Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom
Guide to History on TV

World War 2 Non-fiction Books

Just for Teens

This Twitter account, RealTimeWWII, tweets the entire war as if it were happening in real-time — hour by hour, day by day, year by year. The level of research that has gone into it is incredible.


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