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4th Grade - Letters from the Internment Camps


In this VoiceThread, students explore an historical event that is relevant to their physical community, the removal of Japanese-Americans to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Collaboration is taken to a new level when actual internment-camp survivors respond, with real-life experiences, to students' messages in the VoiceThread.

Benefits to students

  • Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products using technology.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  • Research and Information Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
  • Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.


Discuss the definition of tolerance and the antonym, intolerance. Students can provide examples throughout history and in their personal lives when they have seen examples of both.


  • Create the artwork
  • Create the letters (historical fiction)
  • The student letters described above were evaluated for structure and content, based on a 6 Traits rubric. Taking their writing out to the world through VoiceThread was an extension on the original lesson - and provided the students with an authentic audience, along with the opportunity to practice the often neglected communication skills of listening and speaking.

Note: You can download the full printable lesson plan for this project from the last three pages of the VoiceThread. Just right-click or ctrl+click and choose "Download Original File".


  • In Print: The Bracelet: Uchida, Yoshiko (1993). ISBN-0-399-22503-X. Ages 5 - 8 years. New York Times Best Illustrated 1993. Emi, a Japanese-American in the second grade, is sent with her family to an internment camp during World War II, but the loss of the bracelet her best friend has given her proves that she does not need a physical reminder of the friendship.
  • Online: Time of Remembrance Interview Archive - Recommended interview clips: Reiko Nagumo, Joyce Takahashi, and Christine Umeda, sample VoiceThread.
  • In Person: Whatever the local history you are trying to uncover, attempt to bring in speakers who were first-hand witnesses to the historical event. For the Letters from the Internment Camps project, students were able to meet face-to-face with Marielle Tsukamoto, who shared her story of being relocated to an internment camp at age five - and the impact of her community and culture on her ability to bounce back, much like the Daruma doll.


Whether using a built in microphone or and external one, be sure to test the volume and quality before your recording session. Although you can't control the audio quality of those joining the VoiceThread discussion from outside of your school site, the more consistent the audio levels, for instance, the more satisfied you will be with the final product. And take advantage of the VoiceThread Help and FAQs!


Explore history with your students, and look for opportunities to investigate local history. Visit local sites, interview community members who have lived through your area's historical events. This lesson can easily be adapted to grades 4-12 standards and curriculum.

The VoiceThread