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Ration Stamps of World War II

Lesson Overview

Overview: Students read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. While reading, the students have discussions about WWII and its effects on the home front. One of these discussions included rationing to support the war effort. This lesson will give students the background behind ration stamps and a firsthand experience in a simulation of rationing at school.
Grade Range: 6-8
Objective: Students will increase their understanding of WWII rationing by participating in a school rationing simulation.
Time Required: Two class periods of 45 minutes
Discipline/Subject: Language Arts/Reading
Topic/Subject: American History/War
Era: Great Depression/WWII, 1929-1945

Standards

Illinois Learning Standards: English Language Arts:
1.B.3a-Preview reading materials, make predictions and relate reading to information from other sources.
1.B.3c-Continuously check and clarify for understanding.
1.C.3c-Compare, contrast and evaluate ideas and information from various sources and genres.
5C-Apply acquired information, concepts and ideas to communicate in a variety of formats.

Social Science:
16C-Understand the development of economic systems. 

Materials

Books: Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
PowerPoint Slides: Available on PDF
Other: Construction paper, scissors, glue
Library of Congress Items: Title of Source: Handle the ration stamps with care. After the first two weeks, if you are a retailer, you need them to replace your own supplies of all these rationed foods.
  Title of Source: War ration book no.3. This new ration book, replacement for present books when their stamps are used up, will be distributed during the early summer. It contains four pages of "point" stamps, similar to the point stamps in war ration book 2, though slightly different in design and printed in brown ink. It also contains four pages of "unit" stamps for the type of rationing now used for sugar, coffee, and shoe. Each page of forty-eight stamps bears the design of a different war machine, including guns, tanks, aircraft carriers and planes.
  Title of Source: War ration book no.3. This new ration book, replacement for present books when their stamps are used up, will be distributed during the early summer. It contains four pages of "point" stamps, similar to the point stamps in war ration book 2, though slightly different in design and printed in brown ink. It also contains four pages of "unit" stamps for the type of rationing now used for sugar, coffee, and shoes. Each page of forty-eight stamps bears the design of a different war machine, including guns, tanks, aircraft carriers and planes.
  Title of Source: Gas ration stamps being printed, Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Online Resources: Title of Source: World War II Rationing
Description: Article explaining rationing and why it was important during World War II. 

Procedures

  Day One
1. Students have read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry through chapter ten.
2. Students read and discuss the background behind WWII rationing.
3. Students view PowerPoint (page 2 of PDF) showing primary source pictures of ration stamps and draw conclusions about what they see in the pictures.
4. Students will brainstorm a list of supplies (pencils, paper, books, passes, etc.) that are necessary to maintain their needs throughout the school day.
5. Students will rank these items by importance. The lower the rank, the less the need.
6. Students will decide how many stamps would be needed for each need in their school day.
  Day Two
1. Students will create a ration booklet with construction paper and ration stamps based on their conclusions on day one.
2. Students will record their name on the booklet.
3. Students will use stamps for each of the needs they identified on day one.
4. At the end of day two, class discussion will culminate the simulation.
5. Students will answer these questions:
  • Which coupons did you use the most?
  • Which coupons did you run low on?
  • How could the rationing system be improved?
  • If we rationed today, which items should be rationed? 

Evaluation

Students will be evaluated by participation in the simulation and group discussion.


Author Credits:

A. Carr
Cumberland Middle School