Memorial Middle School Sixth Graders Go Forties

Memorial Middle School Language Arts teacher, Adrienne Hansen gave her sixth grade students a taste of the 1940s on November 22. Credits: Dawn Miller
Sixth graders, Tyler Herman (left) and Ben Palmer have a little fun with their 1940s names. Credits: Dawn Miller
Sixth grader Sal Lewis sets up the checker board at 1940s Day. Credits: Dawn Miller
Ava Tripodi (left) and Emily Wallace color 1940s images while listening to their teacher read a popular 1940s children's book. Credits: Dawn Miller
Sixth grader Shane Thaisz colors a picture of a World War II tank. Credits: Dawn Miller
Memorial Middle School teacher Adrienne Hansen reads "Horton Hatches the Egg." The Dr. Seuss book was first published in 1940. Credits: Dawn Miller
Marco Hatzistefanis (left), Colin Pfeiffer and Aidan Collins get their checker boards ready on 1940s Day. Credits: Dawn Miller

SPOTSWOOD, NJ - Glenn Miller, Tommy Doresey and Bing Crosby topped the music charts in the 1940s. These are names that are foreign to today's tech-savvy tweens that cut their teeth on iPhones and social media while listening to Taylor Swift's laments. However, sixth graders at the Memorial Middle School got a taste of what life was like in the 1940s on November 22 as their Language Arts classes took a step back in time.

Memorial Middle School Language Arts teachers Adrienne Hansen and Patricia Cella decided to turn the clock back for their sixth grade students to bring literature to life.

"We are reading a book in class titled "Summer of My German Soldier," said Hansen. "This text is set in the 1940s. In order to foster and embrace the 1940s, we make it come to life in the classroom!"
"Summer of my German Soldier" was written by Bette Greene. The fictional novel was first published in 1973. Its plot centers around a 12 year old Jewish girl who befriends an escaped German POW in Arkansas in 1940, hiding him in a secret room above her father's garage.
In preparation for the November 22 1940s Day, Hansen's Language Arts classes viewed a 30 minute interview with the veteran teacher's aunt the day before. Hansen's aunt, Helen Izzi was in her early twenties in the 1940s and visited Memorial last year when she was 94 to answer student's questions about what life was like without iPads, cell phones and video games. Izzi is now 95 and doing well, but a bit too frail to make the trip to Memorial.
"She answered any and all questions that they had," Hansen explained about her aunt's visit the previous fall. "She talked about her role as an air warden in her neighborhood and the late hours that she spent at Merck helping the war effort. She also remembered her neighbors eating dog food because they could not afford food. She also discussed what they would do for fun and how important schooling was." 
Sixth grader Shane Thaisz was impressed with how articulate Izzi was in the video with the details she shared about her life back then.

To celebrate 1940s Day, students were invited to wear forties style clothes. A couple of female students donned dresses and pearls. One student wore a tie and another had a fedora hat. As each student arrived for class, Hansen gave every boy and girl a new name for the double class period. Names like David, Joseph, Nancy, Sandra, Mary and George were top names back then.
Hansen then got an hours worth of popular 1940s activities rolling with coloring. Students were given pictures relevant to the era like Rosie the Riveter to color with crayons since only crayons were available at that time. While the students colored, Hansen read Dr. Seuss' "Horton Hatches the Egg." The children's story was published in 1940.
The kids then played checkers, telephone and the mystery bag game. Finally, Hansen played top tunes from the 1940s. Dancing was optional.
In addition to taking a step away from everyday lessons, Hansen feels activities like 1940s Day "makes the text relevant" to students.
"Some of the references (at first) are incomprehensible," Hansen said. "However, when they engage in activities from the 1940s, they quickly realize that fun was still to be had, without video games and color TV."


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


67-Unit Six-Story ‘Mid-Rise’ Apartment Building Proposed

May 23, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - A development company affiliated with two apartment complexes near Neilson Street is now seeking approval for 67-unit, six story apartment building for a vacant lot on the Street that would cover the entire lot and would exceed the four-story limit permitted in the zone.

The Community Builders, a Boston-based company doing building as Stirlingside Urban Renewal LLC, is seeking ...

Amazon’s Career Choice Program Wins “Community Excellence” Award

May 23, 2018

EDISON, NJ - Amazon’s Career Choice program recently received the “Community Excellence” award from the New Jersey Community College Consortium for its impact on the local community.

Steven Johnson, Amazon’s Director for Associate Development, was on hand to accept the award and lead a panel discussion on how the program provides trained, motivated employees for ...

TAPinto Featured Franchisee: Steve Lenox of TAPinto Paterson

This week's feature will focus on TAPinto Paterson's franchisee, Steve Lenox. Find out how the current owner of a public affairs firm went from a former State Director for Senator Frank Lautenberg to a proud TAPinto franchisee for New Jersey's third largest city.


Q. When did you join

I joined in September, ...

Upcoming Events

Tue, May 29, 7:00 PM

The Heldrich Hotel, New Brunswick

New Jersey's Environment - A Pivotal Moment: an ...

Sat, June 2, 8:00 PM

East Brunswick

Casino Night & Tricky Tray

Sun, June 10, 9:00 AM

Nomahegan Park, Cranford

Strides4Strength - A Walk to End Domestic Violence

Letter to the Editor: "We Seek Clarity, Support" from Mayor Regarding Development on Summerhill Road

May 10, 2018

Dear Mayor Cohen:  

Thank you.  Your issued statement last night regarding the current development plans for the intersection of Summerhill and Old Stage Roads - which will be under discussion at the May 17 zoning board meeting in East Brunswick, is a welcome voice. 

Like you, we have a vision for East Brunswick and share your desire for smart redevelopment that ...

Enrollment Begins June 2 For Lord Stirling's Summer Riding Lessons

May 23, 2018

BASKING RIDGE, N.J. — The Somerset County Park Commission will be conducting registration for summer horseback riding classes and other seasonal programs at Lord Stirling Stable, located at 256 South Maple Avenue in Basking Ridge, N.J.  

Lessons are offered to juniors (ages 9-17) and adults, and will accommodate first-time beginners through more advanced levels with jumping ...

TAPintoTravels’ Resident Haeringer Set to Judge World Championship of Salami Making in France Next Month

May 23, 2018

CHATHAM, NJ - Many in Chatham know Jean-Eudes Haeringer for his work as a handyman around town, as well as the set he built for the Chatham Middle School's production of Willy Wonka Jr.

But Haeringer is now adding a new skill that few can claim: Judge for the 2018 World Championship of Artisan Salami Making.

Haeringer, originally from Strasbourg, France, ...

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin's Press, 2018)

            What is the “final frontier” on the Earth's surface? Many people would say Alaska, the 49th state, which was added to the United States fifty years ago. Once one has traveled to that remote land, it is impossible to forget the magnificence of the terrain and beasts. Floating by ship in Glacier Bay, surrounded by ...

'Turning Off the Morning News' brings comic twist

‘Turning Off the Morning News’ tackles today’s issues with a comic twist

By Liz Keill

PRINCETON, N J – Despite the late night comics, no one quite captures the insanity of the political/social status world like Christopher Durang.

His latest play, “Turning off the Morning News” hit the ground running.  John Pankow as Jimmy addresses the audience, ...

'To Kill a Mockingbird' Sustains Timeless Appeal

SUMMIT, NJ – The Summit Playhouse provides a stellar production of a much loved classic, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

The Harper Lee novel, later a Gregory Peck film and now a stage production, retains all the warmth, intensity and integrity that made it such an appealing hit in the 1960s. And there will be a new production on Broadway in December with a script by Aaron Sorkin ...