Activity Overview

Starting a unit or lesson with the key vocabulary terms and allusions aids in overall comprehension and retention. In this activity, students will create a storyboard that defines and illustrates key terms and allusions that are historical, religious, and cultural related to The War That Saved My Life. Because it takes place at the onset of World War II, this will help students understand the historical and cultural context of the novel.

Examples of Terms and Allusions from The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

club foot: a deformed foot that is twisted so that the sole cannot be placed flat on the ground. It is typically congenital or a result of polio.

flat: apartment.

shabby: showing signs of wear and tear.

quay: wharf usually built parallel to the shoreline.

cajole: influence or urge by gentle urging, caressing, or flattering.

impetigo: a contagious bacterial skin infection forming pustules and yellow crusty sores.

evacuee: a person who has been moved out of a dangerous place.

asylum: in the book it means a hospital for the mentally ill.

plait: a hairdo formed by braiding or twisting the hair.

farrier: a person who shoes horses.

patronizing: characteristic of those who treat others with arrogance.

infantry: an army unit consisting of soldiers who fight on foot.

typhoid: infection marked by intestinal inflammation and ulceration.

shrapnel: shell containing lead pellets that explodes in flight.

jodhpurs: full-length trousers, worn for horseback riding, that are close-fitting below the knee and have reinforced patches on the inside of the leg.

Hitler: Adolf Hitler was the dictator of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Chancellor in 1933.

World War II: WWII was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945 that began with Hitler's Nazi Germany invasion of Poland in September 1939.

Battle of Britain: The Battle of Britain began July 10, 1940. Nazi Germany continuously bombed Great Britain for three and a half months in an attempt to destroy Britain's Royal Air Force so Germany could invade. Great Britain was successful in defeating Germany at this time but there were thousands of casualties and devastating destruction.

Operation Pied Piper: 'Operation Pied Piper' was the codename for the plan by the British government during World War II to evacuate about three and a half million children and adults from major urban areas like London to more rural areas such as the countryside in Kent. Children were separated from their families and sent to live with foster families. The plan was meant to keep children safe from potential bombings / air raids.

Evacuation of Dunkirk: The Dunkirk evacuation/the Miracle of Dunkirk was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, in the north of France from May 26 - June 4, 1940. Belgian, British, and French troops were surrounded by German troops and stranded. They would either be captured or killed by the Germans. Naval vessels and hundreds of civilian boats saved about 198,000 British and 140,000 French and Belgian soldiers!

London, England: The capital of England and the largest city in England.

English Channel: The English Channel is a part of the Atlantic Ocean that separates Southern England from northern France.

spies: Spying or espionage is the act of obtaining secret information or divulging secret information. A person who commits espionage is called a spy. In WWII spies tried to find out secret information from the enemy about their plans and strategies that would help them win the war.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Use This Assignment With My Students", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Due Date:

Objective: Create a storyboard that illustrates key terms and allusions (people, places, events) in The War That Saved My Life.

Student Instructions:

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. In the title boxes, identify the terms you have chosen.
  3. In the description boxes, write the definition or description of the term.
  4. Create an illustration for each term using appropriate scenes, characters, and items.

Requirements: Must have 3 terms, correct definitions or descriptions, and appropriate illustrations for each that demonstrate your understanding of the words.

Lesson Plan Reference

Grade Level 6-8

Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)

Type of Assignment Individual

Type of Activity: Literary Allusions

Common Core Standards
  • [ELA-Literacy/RL/6/4] Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/3] Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/4] Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on grades 9-10 reading and content, choosing flexibly from a range of strategies
  • [ELA-Literacy/L/9-10/6] Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression
  • [ELA-Literacy/W/6/6] Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting.


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Define and illustrate each of the key terms.
7 Points
4 Points
1 Points
The vocabulary words are correctly defined.
The meaning of the vocabulary words can be understood but it is somewhat unclear.
The vocabulary word is not clearly defined
The storyboard illustrations clearly depict the meaning of the vocabulary words.
The illustrations relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words but it they are difficult to understand.
The illustrations do not clearly relate to the meaning of the vocabulary words.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

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The War That Saved My Life

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