additional creative projects


The following research and creative projects are worth 100 points. Most of them can be done alone, but some of them could become so involved that you might want to work with one to two friends. The projects should take about 8 to 10 hours of work outside the classroom. If you work with a friend, you should each work 8 to 10 hours. Your project should teach the class some new information about Manzanar. Part of the project could review information we have learned in class or on your site visit, but it should not be merely a question and answer session about the site. When you have completed your project, you will present it to the class as an oral report. Your report will be evaluated on its historical information, the quality of the finished project and your oral presentation.

Everything you have created for the project is due on____________________________

You will be assigned a date to present the oral report after this due date.


1. All the News That's Fit to Print...

Create a newspaper featuring articles informing the class about the facts of the relocation. Include a variety of articles that would appear in a newspaper (news, features, editorials, political cartoons, sports, and, of course, advertisements). Remember to use attention-grabbing headlines. A variation of this project would be to create a news magazine like Time or Newsweek. You decide the year (1940s or 2000s) it is set in.

2. Manzanopoly... or Manzanar Pursuit

Create your own Manzanar board game. You may follow the format of a favorite game (Jeopardy, Clue, Monopoly, Chess, Trivial Pursuit, etc.) or invent one of your own. You should not use parts of the real game in your project. Create original playing pieces, game board, etc. that are derived from the situations and any history of Manzanar. You might discover a game that was popular during this historical period and share it with the class. Be prepared to present the rules to the class and play your game with your classmates.

3. Fashion Parade...

Research the clothing styles, hairdos, makeup, etc. that were popular in the 1940s. What did men and women wear in the relocation centers? Were their fashions different from what was worn in the "outside world?" If so, how? What new fashion(s) became popular for women? What did the men wear? Did any fashions create a wartime controversy? Prepare some visual aides or conduct a fashion show to help the class understand '40s fads and fashions.

4. Spiderman...

Are you an avid comic strip reader? If so, draw a continuing comic strip for a newspaper that would run about three weeks (5 to 6 strips per week). The action could take place during and/or after World War II. It could deal with the relocation or other eras of life at Manzanar. Try to have each day's strip end with a "cliff hanger" so that your readers would want to know what happens next.

5. Manzanar in Cyberspace...

Create a computer program that teaches the class something about World War II or the relocation. Your program might use facts gained from your visit to Manzanar and/or other sources in a question and answer format, an adventure game, a Power Point presentation, a website, or anything you wish. If possible, write it for a PC so we can share it with the entire class.

6. The Play's the Thing...

Write an original script based on events from before, during or immediately after World War II. Include historical characters; add fictional persons to enliven your drama. Remember to develop a conflict that needs to be resolved. This will form the basis of the action of the play. Include realistic dialogue. Perform your play for the class. You may do a one-person show, or do this with a friend. A variation of this assignment would be to prepare a videotaped presentation of your play.

7. Literally, Nice to Meet You…

Similar to The Play's the Thing (above), but write a script that introduces characters from one novel to another. Anne Frank meets Jeanne Wakatsuki, or Gene (from Separate Peace) meets Woody, or compare Daniel Inouye's high school experiences with Gene's, Jeanne's, etc.

8. Role Play…

This one requires that you work in a group. Pick from the list below, or make up your own scenario:

- Father is taken away by the FBI with no warning to the family (or the father).

- Mother smashes dishes out of frustration with the second-hand dealers hovering around the porch.

- The round up: empty seats in classroom, saying good-bye to neighbors, putting things in storage, who will take your pets? Who can you trust?

- Arriving at Manzanar, moving in to your barracks with your family, meeting your roommates, stuffing your mattresses with straw, etc.

- Manzanar riot: the events in camp, the reaction in Los Angeles (or your hometown?).

- Leaving camp: property gone, property saved by friends (two experiences).

- Archeologists digging through layers, Indiana Jones, Owens Valley Paiute Indian remains, farms, orchards, stones, gardens, steps, etc.

9. Name That Tune...

Discover the Top 10 hits that people were listening to during the 1940's. Explore your local college music libraries and the Internet to find out what kind of music and dancing was popular both in and out of the relocation camps. Who were some of the most popular vocalists, musicians and dancers? What musical instruments did they use? Report on your findings to the class and play some of the musical selections. You may perform one or two songs yourself or recruit a partner and demonstrate some of the popular dances.

10. A Picture is Worth 1000 Words...

Research some aspect of Manzanar National Historic Site that you learned about in class or on your tour. Create an artistic project suitable for display. It could be a series of drawings, three-dimensional models (of barracks, a pond, a block, a guard tower…), photographs, etc. Be creative!

11. What's In A Photo?

Compare and contrast photographs taken by Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and/or Toyo Miyatake with works of artists (Ishigo, Takamura, Sugimoto, Sakamoto, etc.). How do the photographers differ from each other? When were the photos taken? What conclusions can you infer? And how does photography differ from painting? What different perspectives are shown? Is a watercolor more evocative than a photograph? Do paintings document the facts? Which shows a deeper understanding?

12. The Big Game...

What sports were popular at Manzanar? How did these sports help the internees cope with their relocation and confinement? How did they reflect the sports world outside the camps? What teams were in the World Series? Who were the stars of the Olympics? How popular was professional basketball and football? Write a report about your findings. Invent an original way to present your findings to the class.

13. E = mc2

This assignment is for the research scientists and/or future physicians among you. What advances in science, technology or medicine were made during the 1940s? What research was conducted at Manzanar during the war (do you know what guayule is)? What were the medical resources at Manzanar? What diseases were common? Choose the world of medicine, science or technology and explore the answers to these and other questions. Present your findings to the class.

14. Public Service Commercial

Create a 30-second commercial for a visit to Manzanar National Historic Site. What elements of the visit would you focus on? Think of the commercials that have impressed you most. What attention grabbing visual image would you use to open your commercial? A person? An object? A photograph? A painting? Would you use a voice-over or a live actor? Videotape the commercial and judge your audience's reaction.

15. Then and Now

Explore the Internet, your school library and nearby museums to discover which Native American tribes inhabited the land now known as Manzanar National Historic Site. Who were these residents and what were their lives like? Discuss their religious beliefs, culture, dress, occupations, tools and contributions to the land. What happened to them? Where do members of these tribes live today? Creatively involve your fellow students in learning more about these Native Americans.

16. Act I, Scene I, Take I. . .

Are you an aspiring actor or actress? How brave are you? Create a visit to your class from wartime Manzanar resident. You could be a child, a teenager, a parent, a doctor or nurse, a Quaker teacher, a guard, the camp director, etc. Research background information about the person whom you choose to become, give yourself a name, background data from before your stay at Manzanar, dress in costume, and visit your class. Introduce yourself, tell your classmates a little about yourself and then allow them to question you about your experiences. Remember-do not break character! Act and speak as if you are living during World War II.

17. Dateline Interviews

Locate a former internee, a child or a friend of an internee. If you do not know someone whom you could interview, contact Manzanar National Historic Site to request contact information for former internees. Make a list of questions to ask during this one-on-one experience with your subject. Arrange to meet with your subject and conduct the interview. If you are unable to meet in person, conduct an interview by telephone or email. If the interviewee agrees, videotape your interview to share it with the class.

A variation of this assignment would be to interview someone who is not of Japanese ancestry who lived during World War II and is willing to discuss their opinions and memories of the relocation of Japanese Americans with you.

Remember, the quality of your questions determines the quality of the interview. If during the interview your subject suggests other questions, don't hesitate to go in a new direction. If you wish, ask your interview subject about the implications of the lessons learned from the relocation for today's Arab and Muslim Americans in light of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

18. Arts and Crafts

Gather materials and natural objects that internees might have found at Manzanar: rocks, twigs, paint, glue, leaves, stones, paper…Create objects using these materials. Paintings, poems, stories, jewelry… objects or scenes they saw in the area…things they remember from home…After you have made one or two creations, research actual artifacts created by the internees. Did you create similar things (with a 21st Century Twist?!)?

19. Don't Forget to Write!

Share your finished projects with the National Park Service! Who knows, your creation may be posted on the Manzanar National Historic Site Website!?

Please send what you are proud of to:

Education Coordinator

Manzanar National Historic Site

P.O. Box 426

Independence, CA 93526

Return to the Lesson Plans page.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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Manzanar National Historic Site
P.O. Box 426
5001 Highway 395

Independence, CA 93526


(760) 878-2194 x3310

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