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Rationing During WWII: Webquest for Middle School Social Studies Students

written by: Pamela Martin • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 9/19/2014

The men were fighting a war in Europe and Africa, but the women and children back home felt some impact, as well. Find out what effect the war had on the home front with this World War II webquest about rationing.

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    On the Home Front: World War II Rationing

    BackgroundRationing Board WWII New Orleans

    During World War II, fighting interrupted normal commerce between nations. Because importing goods was difficult, if not impossible, and because of the military’s increased need for certain items, many countries implemented a rationing system, which meant that civilians could not buy some things and could only buy limited quantities of others. This allowed everyone to have a chance at a fair share. With this World War II webquest on rationing, you can find out how people adapted and made do with what they had.

    Task

    The local War Price and Rationing Board is concerned about the morale of the citizens and their response to rationing. They have commissioned you and your partner, 1940s advertising experts, to create a booklet that will explain the rationing system and provide the readers with suggestions on how to manage clothing and meals during the shortages. The brochure should include clothing advice, information on new fashions, ways to adapt recipes, and new menu and recipe ideas, along with an explanation of how the rationing system works and what is rationed.

    Process

    One member of your team should focus on researching how to compensate for food shortages, while the other becomes an expert on fashions and ways to accommodate shortages in fabrics, shoes, hosiery and other clothing items. Together, you should explore the rationing system and how it was administered.

    Product

    Your booklet should be printed as a 5" x 8" document, with at least six pages, including a cover sheet and a Table of Contents page, plus a minimum of four pages of tips, menus and recipes. To make your booklet interesting to the readers, you may include pictures. However, for each page with more than two pictures, you must add another page of tips; so, for example, if two pages of your pages have three pictures, your booklet will need to have eight pages rather than six.

    You should not simply copy menus and recipes from one of your sources. Look at some of the types of dishes that were popular and show how to modify them for missing ingredients. You may also choose some of your own favorite recipes and change them to accommodate the rationing. You may copy only one recipe exactly, and you must give credit to the author of the recipe.

    Pictures should be original and should look like they were created during this time; remember that photographs and full-color pictures were not used in this type of material. Every picture must have a caption and all of your text should be free of spelling, grammar and syntax errors.

    References:

    Use these websites for your research:

    Life on the Home Front -- Rationing: A Necessary But Hated Sacrifice

    Learn about the necessity for and process of rationing, along with information about the black market and other issues.

    Reading Eagle: Joanna Furnace Brings Back the Fashions, Times of World War II Era

    Read about war-time fashions and the accommodations people made for the things they could not buy.

    Ames Historical Society: World War II Rationing on the U.S. Homefront

    Reproductions of ration books and tokens on this page are accompanied by explanations, reasons for and benefits of rationing.

    United States History: World War II Rationing

    Learn more about living through World War II back in the United States.

    Ames Historical Society: Rationed Goods in the USA During the Second World War

    Find a list of rationed items and the dates during which they were controlled.

    Historical Boys' Clothing: World War II Rationing

    Find out how rationing affected boys' clothes during the war years.

    BBC -- World War 2: Food and Shopping

    Read about how you would have shopped during World War II.

    How Rationing Affected Fashions

    Learn which clothes were rationed and how people adapted.

    World War 2 Homefront: Rationing

    Listen to a war-era government announcement while reading about rationing.

    Wartime Nutrition, Rationing, and Scarcity in World War II

    Watch a film produced by the U.S. Office of War to help citizens know how to adapt to food rationing and shortages.

    Now that you've completed the World War II rationing webquest, see how you can apply the lessons of rationing to "going green."

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