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WWII Rationing on the Homefront


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by Carmen Derrick


Grade Level:



Social Studies


The students will be able to think critically about the use of limited materials during times of conflict, more specifically during times that call for preservation of resources. For the purposes of this discussion, this refers to WWII rationing on the home front.

Speaking and Listening Standard 2:

Interpret information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g. visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how it contributes to a topic, text or issue under study.


60 Minutes 



Nylon Wedding Dress

Prerequisite Knowledge/Skill:

Introduction to WWII

Instructional Strategies:

Review of World War II progression culminating with an emphasis on resource management and deficits.
Explain the differences in materials used for clothing and discuss materials needed for the war effort.

Learning Activities:

Use Disney and Seuss cartoons to show how resource management affected American society.
Work individually with teacher assistance on drafts for “Resource Management Editorial Cartoons”.


Computer and projector (smart board)


Have students create their own editorial cartoon for conservation of resources.

Lesson Timeline:

Silk Parachute Wedding Dress

10 minutes----Teacher reviews material from the previous class using projected highlights.
2 minutes----Teacher states objectives for the lesson and writes them on the board.
5 minutes----Teacher introduces the topic using a 3-minute short film titled “Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Firing Line”. In 1942 Walt Disney made this short film for the U.S. War Production Board (a now-defunct agency of the federal government during WWII). It stresses the importance of saving waste fats, which are made into explosives, for the war effort.
15 minutes---- Discuss meaning and social impacts of conserving for the war effort. Use Dr. Seuss cartoon “Girdle Shortage” and Vogue Magazine cover as examples. 
20 minutes---- Use OSU’s “Fashion 2 Fiber” website for creative examples of textile availability and use.

7 minutes----Teacher reviews the lesson objectives and previews the next day’s lesson, assigning reading for homework.



Girdle Shortage

Girdle Shortage Cartoon

Vogue Magazine cover

Vogue Magazine Cover

1940s Nylon Wedding Dress

Nylon Wedding Dress

1940s Silk Parachute Wedding Dress

Silk Parachute Wedding Dress

1940s Silk Parachute Wedding Dress: Detail of German Label 2

inset of silk parachute wedding dress


1940s Silk Parachute Wedding Dress: Detail of German Label 2

large inset of parachute wedding dress