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Classroom Resources

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Classroom resources

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Building History 3.0 is a collection of resources designed to assist you in teaching students about the World War II Japanese American incarceration camps.

There is no single way to use our website! All of our resources can be used independently, or in conjunction with each other or your existing curriculum. You’ll find a graphic historical timeline, short documentaries produced for students, lesson plans, and interactive activities in Minecraft. Teachers wishing to include the Minecraft components of our lesson plans will find resources to support them in that process.

Building History 3.0 encourages students to explore this period in American history actively, and will help students to develop 21st century skills including independent research, digital citizenship, STEM skills and design thinking, creativity, personal reflection, effective storytelling, empathy and kindness, and collaboration. The curriculum was developed in accordance with national and state Common Core Standards.

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A collection of six short documentaries introduces students to some of the people touched by the incarceration camps. Produced and edited specifically for Building History 3.0, these classroom-ready videos follow former Heart Mountain boy scouts, a woman reunited with her doll collection decades after being forced to leave them behind, a 92-year-old Nisei World War II veteran, a boy learning about his grandmother’s experience at camp by recreating Manzanar in Minecraft, and more. Each video tells a single story, and so these may be used independently or as a group.

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Five lesson plans for grades 3 through 12 that describe comprehensive projects for students to complete in class, over periods ranging from a few hours to four weeks, depending on a teacher’s needs.

The graphic timeline introduces students to the events that led up to the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, beginning with the arrival of Japanese immigrants in modern-day Hawai’i in 1885. Developments during the War are laid out in an easy-to-read format, and the timeline concludes in 1988 with the signing of HR 442 by President Ronald Reagan.

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The camp map displays in an easy-to-read layout the locations of the ten incarceration camps where Japanese Americans were held during World War II.

Our introduction to Minecraft demonstrates basic skills that will get a newbie (teacher or student) ready for our game-centered learning activities. You can use this guide to access a free version of Minecraft and learn basic maneuvers in the game.

Our virtual camp allows students to explore a minimalistic recreation of the Manzanar incarceration camp in Minecraft. Depending on how this resource is implemented, it can be used simply for demonstration purposes, or as a blank canvas to allow students to recreate elements of camp life as they learn about these in class. The virtual camp is incorporated into our downloadable lesson plans, though it may be used independently.

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The suitcase activity in Minecraft puts students in the shoes of children who had to pack for the incarceration camps. As they select from a list of items they can fit into their suitcases, students are confronted with the reality of what would need to be left behind.

Visit our resources page for additional readings and classroom tools. Our partners’ websites feature additional archival images, oral histories and lesson plans.


Not sure where to start? Download our “Quick Start” guide for an overview of the tools and resources on our site available to you.