World War II changed the fabric of the United States in ways that are unthinkable to us today. How do we help them understand what life was like here on the home front during the World War II period? I really wanted my children to understand the sacrifices that were made by both our military and our civilians during World War II. This week we have been focusing on life on the home front. In addition to conversations about what it was like we planted a Victory garden and started using our simple version of ration books.
For the Victory garden, the children first researched what types of foods would typically have been planted in a Victory garden as well as the types of seeds that could be planted in our climate this time of year. Then they had to till the soil and remove any weeds. Once the soil was ready they went through and found seeds that were appropriate and planted the seeds. Over the next few weeks they will tend to the garden and hopefully get to enjoy some of the ‘vegetables’ of their labor.
If you do not have enough space or have other restrictions that do not allow for a full garden a few small containers can still give you a hands on experience. My three year old wanted his own so we cut off the top of a milk carton, filled it with potting soil and planted lettuce. You can make something simple like our milk carton planter or purchase indoor gardening kits like this farmers garden window sill kit or these herbs in a jar.
Rationing can be a difficult concept for children who have been blessed to never live through it to understand. So we created a simple ration sheet and chose three things to ‘ration’ in our house for the month of April. We are rationing chocolate milk, candy, and kindle/computer time. Real ration books had removable stickers that you turned in to procure your goods. However, in the interest of simplicity ours is more like a check sheet that will get marked each time they use one of those items. Once all the boxes are checked for an item, they do not get any more of that item until May. If this is something you are interested in, you can find a copy of it with the items left blank in the free resource library (you can sign-up for access at the bottom of this post). The children are very excited about the project, but I’m not sure how they will feel when they run out of something before the end of the month. I’ll keep you updated in our history updates.
We also watched a few video shorts from training and propaganda videos for World War II. These were popular cartoon characters that were used to encourage support for the war or train soldiers. There are many of them but some of them may not be appropriate for all ages due to crude humor. I have shared some links below to some that we found were good examples.
I have also found a few recipes that were designed for making foods using rations and limiting ingredients that were hard to come by. We are going to try a few of those recipes over the next few days. If they are enjoying that, I may challenge them to modify some of our favorite recipes to be more ‘ration’ friendly and see what they can create.
I have included some links below that have great information on Victory gardens and rationing. I would love to know if you try any of these ideas or if you have other ideas for helping children understand what life on the home front was like during World War II.
- Victory Gardens– World War II Museum (information and recipes)
- Victory Garden History
- Victory Garden Information
- Victory Garden Project
When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.
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6 thoughts on “Victory Gardens and Ration Books”
My grandfather told me of rationing in Finland during the war. It’s really amazing how harsh the living conditions were, of course, Germany, Russian, and the rest of Europe had it really hard too. At least we did not need to make sawmill bread with sawdust and grass.
Germans had it very bad. When I was little Oma told me about bread using silage, or animal feed. Its good that you try to share this history with your kids. We don’t want to ever see those kinds of conditions again.
Guilty conscience Kai?
What? No! What Hitler led Germany to do was wrong, on many many levels. I wasn’t born, my parents weren’t born until after the war. My grandfather was forced to be in Hitler Youth. Most Germans had no choice.
My family’s home was burned by your countrymen as they left Finland….
Tarja, it was nearly 75 years ago. Please let it go. Germany has changed and is a great friend now.