Atomic Heritage Foundation: New Mexico History

Students write and design an original book about the Manhattan Project for elementary school children.

  • Paper
  • Colored markers
  • Powerpoint and Internet access
  • Library
  • Variety of nonfiction children’s books (suggestion: The Big Lie by Isabella Leitner), assignment page, and resource notes



Write and illustrate (or use pictures from the Internet) to create a nonfiction children’s book that teaches elementary-age children about the Manhattan Project. Your book needs to include the following information:

  • Information about WWII: this may include information about Pearl Harbor, facts about WWII – the total number of people killed, how or why the war began, the United States involvement, etc.
  • Einstein’s letter to the president
  • Information about General Groves and his selection of J. Robert Oppenheimer
  • Biographical information about Oppenheimer
  • Selection of Los Alamos as the secret site
  • Information about life at Los Alamos during 1943-1945
  • The Trinity site and testing
  • The bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and related facts – number killed, the world’s reaction, after effects, etc.
  • A conclusion of your choice may include what happened to Oppenheimer after the war, information about the arms race between the Soviet Union and the US, McCarthyism era, the Cold War, the worlds’ reaction to atomic weapons, Oppenheimer’s reaction to the use of the bomb, etc.
  • A minimum of 10 illustrations or pictures (maps included)
  • A book title with authors and illustrated front cover
  • Works Cited page in MLA format




On butcher paper, write the following words: J. Robert Oppenheimer, WWII, atomic bomb, Manhattan Project. In groups, using a marker, students will discuss and list what they know about the topics listed. Allow approximately 10-15 minutes. Students will share allow what they have listed. Teacher lecture and powerpoint presentation on the Manhattan Project. Students take notes.



Pass out Assignment handout and review with students. Assign pairs for students to work in. Select Isabella Leitner’s book and read aloud to class. Discuss aspects of the book: illustrations, lay out, information learned, etc.



Pass out hand out for research notes and explain the importance of documenting the resource information at the top of the page. Teachers should include a mini lecture on plagiarism. Students research the events of the Manhattan Project using the Internet and take notes. Students must have a minimum of 3 resources. Optional: teacher collects and grades notes for completion and following directions. Students begin writing the rough draft. This assignment will require homework at teacher discretion.



Create book cover and Works Cited page. Teacher also hosts a writer’s workshop to rewrite rough draft, add new information, details, illustrations etc.



Type final draft, create layout of book and print. Students may decide on vertical or horizontal layout for book.


Resources: In addition to using your class notes, you must use a minimum of 3 resources to add to your research of the above topics for your book. Your last page in you nonfiction children’s book must have a Works Cited page that lists your resources and gives credit for any pictures you use in your book that are copied from the Internet.

Grade Level:

Science Topics
Nuclear Science
Social Studies Topics
World War II
Music, Art, and Language Arts Topics
Middle School, Educator
7th Grade, 8th Grade

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Atomic Heritage Foundation

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