New Mexico Communities During World War II
Authors: Rebecca M. Sánchez and Cindy Basye
Suggested Grade Level(s): 4, 5
Suggested Subject Area(s): Language Arts and Social Studies
Number of Class Periods Required: This is a multidisciplinary unit meant to span 15 days of instructional time for Language Arts and Social Studies lessons.
Essential Question: How do communities grow and change over time?
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata was chosen as a core piece of literature for this unit because it describes the lives of typical West Coast rural Japanese Americans and their experiences during World War II. The book provides numerous opportunities for students to examine, with teacher support, some of the historical events that helped shape the era. Through readings, discussions, and journal prompts, students can make personal connections to the characters and their struggles for fair and decent treatment in time of war. To complement the children’s literature, this unit also incorporates a number of primary sources within the Social Studies lessons. Historians use evidence to construct their understanding of the past. A primary source is something written or created by someone living at the time of the event—it is an eyewitness account or direct evidence. Photographs, documents, interviews, diaries, letters, and drawings are some examples of primary sources. A secondary source is created by someone looking back on a historical event or time—it is an interpretation of a primary source. Primary sources are valuable because they provide students a view into the past through the eyes of someone who experienced it. In this unit we present students with some primary source materials and introduce them to simple protocols for analyzing these materials. We ask students to use these sources and protocols as they begin to construct their own understanding of a particular era in American history. When lessons use primary sources, students should be reminded of the role the sources play in historical inquiry.
Resources and References
- Terminology and the Japanese American Experience (48 KB)
- Map of Japanese American Confinement Sites in the United States During World War II (1 MB)
- Media related to the Project’s Curricular Units
- “Japanese Americans in the Interior West: A Regional Perspective on the Enduring Nikkei Historical Experience in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Utah (and Beyond)” Essay and Timeline (968 KB)
- “Japanese Americans in Arizona: An Overview” Essay and Timeline (108 KB)
- “Japanese Americans in Colorado: An Overview” Essay and Timeline (80 KB)
- “Japanese Americans in New Mexico: An Overview” Essay and Timeline (84 KB)
- “Japanese Americans in Texas: An Overview” Essay and Timeline (84 KB)
- “Japanese Americans in Utah: An Overview” Essay and Timeline (88 KB)
- Selected Bibliography (124 KB)
- Acknowledgements (84 KB)