“…December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”
If your class is like mine, you will find that students know next to nothing about this tragic and important event.
I have taught the following lessons to both third and fifth graders. Students are eager to learn about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and I never have any trouble keeping their attention.
First, I describe the event to students, and place it in the context of World War II.
Here is a good reading comprehension worksheet with a short passage about Pearl Harbor. This passage gives American embargoes on Japan as the reason for the attack. I think that children should know that destroying the Pacific Fleet was another Japanese goal for the attack.
I read President Roosevelt’s famous speech and explain it to the students. I give students a copy of the speech. You can print the speech and listen to it at AmericanRhetoric.com Students are fascinated to hear this address from so long ago. They listen much better if they can read along.
I use information from the National WW2 Museum fact sheet. Also, I playa video clip about the attack from the History Channel. It shows visuals and features the beginning of President Roosevelt’s speech to Congress.
After students understand what happened, I tie the lesson into writing by showing a first draft of FDR’s speech, from the National Archives. It’s interesting to see how he developed the most famous phrases.
InstructorWeb has a nice packet about the attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s appropriate for students in 5th grade and up. The packet features a passage to read, a chart, and questions: multiple choice, short answer, matching, and essay.