Freedom from Want: A Look at Rationing during World War II
Students will take a look at the real-life challenges to family life during World War II. They will learn about the requirements and limitations of rationing. Using this information, students will create a budget for a family of four with an annual income of $2000. Their budget will include meals, clothing, shelter and entertainment. In addition, students will think about ways to extend the budget.
The activities may take 3 to 4 periods, 45 minutes each.
Enduring Understandings/ Essential Questions:
- Families on the homefront faced major challenges during World War II.
- The economy was stronger during World War II due to an increase of jobs available.
- Rationing helped to provide essential supplies for the military overseas as well as ensuring all on the homefront would get their fare share of goods.
- What were the challenges faced by families on the homefront during World War II?
- What was the effect of the war on the U.S. economy?
- What was rationing?
- Why was rationing important?
- Four Freedoms
- The activities may take 3 to 4 periods, 45 minutes each.
- Social Studies; Language Arts: Reading; Mathematics: Ration and Proportion; Mathematics: Number System; Mathematics: Expressions and Equations
- Rationing; Victory garden; Budget; Ration books; Ration coupons
- Students will read and apply information about rationing during World War II.
- Students will create a budget for a family of four with an income of $2,000.
- Students will brainstorm ways to extend the family budget by engaging in activities supporting the war efforts.
World War II began in 1939. The United States was not involved in the beginning of the war, however, President Franklin Roosevelt believed that the United States would eventually need to play a larger role. In January 1941, he made his speech to Congress. In his speech, President Roosevelt named the Four Freedoms, which he stated are the rights of everyone in the world. After the speech, in an effort to convey the underlying message of the Four Freedoms, the President reached out to the art world for help. Many artists created works to reflect the meaning of these freedoms in the form of paintings, sculptures, prints, musical compositions, and more. Norman Rockwell thought a lot about these ideals. In February and March of 1943, his completed Four Freedoms illustrations were published in The Saturday Evening Post, each along with a related essay. Exceedingly popular at the time and distributed widely as prints and posters, Norman Rockwell's illustrations raised over 132 million dollars toward the war effort through the purchase of war bonds. Prints of Rockwell’s Four Freedoms were given as premiums when people purchased war bonds in varying denominations. His illustrations became the face of the Four Freedoms and they continue to represent the meaning of these freedoms today.
- Print copies of the following article explaining rationing during World War II
- Copies of Rationing and Food price list (handout) for each student
- Images of ration coupons and ration book
- Student budget worksheet
- Students should have had opportunity to view and discuss the illustration, Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell. In addition, they should have had opportunity to listen to or read the 1941 Freedom Speech by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
- Provide students with a copy of the informational text explaining rationing during World War II. Allow them time to close read the text, marking important information, as well as questions they have.
- Meet with students to discuss the text explaining rationing.They may have questions and misunderstanding that will need to be clarified before they create a family budget.
- Provide students with Food Price list and Ration list as well as a Student budget worksheet.
- After students have had opportunity to create a budget, meet with students to review and discuss the budgets they created. What ideas did students come up with to extend the budget?
- Thinking about today’s economy, what are their thoughts about life during World War II.
- Extend the learning: Have students update the information you gave them to reflect a budget for today, including the kinds of trips and entertainments typically enjoyed by today’s families.
- Are students able to identify the challenges that families faced during World War II?
- Are the budgets created by students realistic?
- Are students able to come up with some ideas to extend the budget?
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
- Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including analogies or allusions to other texts.
- Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
- Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Determine two or more central ideas in a text and analyze their development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text.
- Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
- Determine a central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text, including its relationship to supporting ideas; provide an objective summary of the text.
- Solve real-world and mathematical problems by writing and solving equations of the form x + p = q and px = q for cases in which p, q and x are all nonnegative rational numbers.
- Use ratio and rate reasoning to solve real-world and mathematical problems, e.g., by reasoning about tables of equivalent ratios, tape diagrams, double number line diagrams, or equations.
- Solve multi-step real-life and mathematical problems posed with positive and negative rational numbers in any form (whole numbers, fractions, and decimals), using tools strategically. Apply properties of operations to calculate with numbers in any form; convert between forms as appropriate; and assess the reasonableness of answers using mental computation and estimation strategies. For example: If a woman making $25 an hour gets a 10% raise, she will make an additional 1/10 of her salary an hour, or $2.50, for a new salary of $27.50. If you want to place a towel bar 9 3/4 inches long in the center of a door that is 27 1/2 inches wide, you will need to place the bar about 9 inches from each edge; this estimate can be used as a check on the exact computation.
- Use variables to represent quantities in a real-world or mathematical problem, and construct simple equations and inequalities to solve problems by reasoning about the quantities.
- Solve real-world and mathematical problems involving the four operations with rational numbers.1
- Use proportional relationships to solve multistep ratio and percent problems. Examples: simple interest, tax, markups and markdowns, gratuities and commissions, fees, percent increase and decrease, percent error.
- Explain why standards of living increase as productivity improves.