Japanese-American Experiences in Arizona Internment Camps
During World War II, several Japanese-American internment camps were set up in Arizona. Fifth grade students in the classroom of Jodi Houtz at Van Buskirk listened to a read aloud of the novel Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata. This book focuses on the experiences of a Japanese-American family who are transported from California to an internment camp on an Indian Reservation in Poston, Arizona. The students also explored picture books about the internment camp at the Gila River Relocation Center in Rivers, Arizona.
The students portrayed the emotions of Japanese Americans falsely accused and imprisoned in these camps using Picasso-like portrayals of faces fractured in pieces to represent the fracturing of their lives.
The Navajo Code on Abecedario Cards
Fifth-grade students in Angelica Serrano’s classroom were fascinated by the unbreakable code developed by Navajo code talkers in World War II. They explored many books about Navajo culture and experiences and listened to a read aloud of The Unbreakable Code and Joseph Bruchac’s Code Talker: A Novel about the Navajo Marines of World War Two. They also explored books about secret codes.
The students connected their interest in the Navajo code and language with their own Latino tradition of abecedario cards. Each selected a code word to paint on a card. Enjoy the cards and the code as portrayed by fifth graders from Van Buskirk Elementary School in TUSD.
My Grandparent’s Story
The stories that John’s grandfather tells about his experiences as a WWII code talker in The Unbreakable Code inspired fifth graders to interview their grandparents and learn their stories. Like John, they believe that these stories will help them learn who they are and carry that with them through life.
Enjoy this collection of stories shared by grandparents with their grandchildren; coming to the collection for the exhibit is the best way to view the stories. The stories were written by children from the fifth grade classroom of Lupe Ornelas at Van Buskirk Elementary School in TUSD.