Middle School

See below for middle school education recommended reading*, viewing, and activities for students in grades 6 – 8 about the “Heart Mountain Relocation Center” and Japanese American Confinement during World War II.

Tours are available for all age groups. Tour can be customized to best fit the middle school education goals of each class. Book your field trip HERE.

Need help? Check out our suggested activities below or contact us for other curriculum suggestions.

*All of the books and movies below are available through the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation online store.


A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

At the onset of WWII, nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in concentration camps. Inspired by Shigeru Yabu’s youthful camp experiences, A Boy of Heart Mountain is a poignant coming-of-age story and a celebration of the human spirit under duress. An audio version also is available.

The Journal of Ben Uchida 

In diary form, the author tells 12-year-old Ben’s story of being unjustly confined, living in a camp, and what his family goes through. This book ends with some insights into the historical events of that time and what happened to the characters after the war. (Out of print. Check your local library)

Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

The true story of one spirited Japanese American family’s attempt to survive the indignities of forced detention and of a native-born American child who discovered what it was like to grow up behind barbed wire in the United States.

Stanley Hayami, Nisei Son Annotated by Joanne Oppenheim

Through his letters and diary entries, readers will have an intimate look at Stanley’s life at Heart Mountain and as a soldier on the battlefield during WWII.


All We Could Carry

Students gain insight from the incarcerees’ hardships. They will experience what it was like to leave their homes, possessions, and normal daily life behind to be confined at Heart Mountain. They will explore camp life, pass-time activities, and social structure and be able to compare and contrast these experiences to their own life experiences.

Days of Waiting

Students will explore what life was like in a Relocation Center and all the social issues involved in a community governing itself. They will study how those confined here lived and communicated under strict conditions.

Hiro: A Story of Japanese Internment

HIRO details the memories of Hiroshi “Hiro” Hoshizaki, a former incarceree of the Heart Mountain, Wyoming prison camps during World War II. At age twelve, Hiro, an American-born citizen, and his family were forcibly removed from their homes, along with 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans living on the West Coast of the United States.



Students visit the Interpretive Center at Heart Mountain to see the memorabilia of those confined here, learning the scope of the camp, and follow the incarcerees’ footsteps through history. They should have a more personal understanding of the emotional injustices that the Japanese Americans faced upon leaving.

Activity 1:

Pre-tour lesson in class before coming to the Center

a) Have students read a brief history leading up to the confinement camps, life there, and life after camp. View the History section of our website for more information.

b) Students can read any of the books in our recommended reading prior to their visit to the Center.

Activity 2:

Interpretive Center Tour

a) Students will be given a tag similar to the tags given to the Japanese Americans before they left home. The tag will have one of two family numbers on it. Students will be asked to find the family number in the exhibit and write down the family name that corresponds with the number. They will need to take these tags back to school with them.

b) Students will watch the short film All We Could Carry. This film features twelve men and women who were at Heart Mountain, children and young adults at the time, confined behind barbed wire and surrounded by armed guards in watchtowers. They share a moving account of their daily life in the camp and their resilience.

c) While touring the Center, students will be asked to either complete a scavenger hunt or Interpretive Center worksheet. These worksheets can be used as part of the post-tour class discussion.

Activity 3:

Setsuko Saito Higuchi Memorial Walking Tour and Honor Roll

This 1000 ft. walking tour guides students through key moments in the Heart Mountain history and references historic objects that are still present on the surrounding landscape. The Honor Roll honors the over 800 men and women who served in the U.S. military from Heart Mountain during WWII, including two Medal of Honor recipients. Students will be asked to write down one name from the honor roll.

Activity 4:

Post-tour lesson in class after visiting the Center

Students will reference the tags they were given and find the family name and number on the census sheets. Students will discuss in class where their family came from, how many people were in their family, what their address was, and where they went when the camp was closed.


Students should gain knowledge of communicating through letter writing and expressing feelings through poetry and haiku. Stamps were the one thing everyone bought at 2 cents each for regular mail to communicate with relatives and friends. The incarcerees sent hand drawn pictures, haiku, poetry, announcements, and general information to keep in touch with the outside world.

Activity 1:

Students watch the film All We Could Carry or Days of Waiting by Steven Okazaki.

a) They will journal about what they think it would be like to be displaced and forced to move to an unknown place, or a place of the teacher’s choosing, for an indefinite period of time.

b) The students will journal about what they would miss taking with them and why.

c) Students can journal about what they would do to pass the time in their new “home.

Activity 2:

In small groups or individually, write letters to former incarcerees, asking questions about life in camp, how they passed the time, or any other relevant questions.

Teachers will need to contact Interpretive Center staff by phone or email for an updated list of pen pals.

Activity 3:

The students will write their own haiku after listening to or reading Haiku by C.F. Kelly or researching other haikus on-line exploring the history and origin of haiku.


Introduce students to various books about the WWII confinement of the Japanese Americans and their use of personal stories to express thoughts and feelings about how this relatively brief period effected their whole life.

Activity 1:

The students read one of the books on our reading list and report on the theme, learning about prejudice and unjust treatment from the government and society.


The students study various recreational activities at Heart Mountain and learn how they helped those confined here not only pass the time but stay positive and social. Activities, art and gardens contributed to the general well-being of those incarceratetd at the camp. Students will be able to explore these as more than just pasttime activities.

Activity 1:

Students make a traditional Japanese meal.

Activity 2:

Have the students look at the various activities in camp and develop a weekly schedule of activities. Be sure to consider weather conditions and ages of participants. Explore indoor activities as well as the night classes provided.

Activity 3:

Students work with the school and the Interpretive Center to grow plants for the container gardens while mentoring younger school students.


Students will study the social and government issues at Heart Mountain, both within the camp and in regards to the draft for WWII. Particular attention will be paid to internal government, draft resistance and/or accepance, and communition within and between Relocation Centers.  In addition, students will gain understanding about prejudice in the surrounding communities and how it affected life within Heart Mountain.

Activity 1:

Students will research an incarceree from camp using the census, email, mail, the internet, oral histories, or written histories. Please contact Interpretive Center staff by phone or email for a list of pen pals available.

Activity 2:

Students can create their own newspaper, based on the Heart Mountain Sentinel.

Activity 3:

Build a diorama of a barrack having a group take each room and researching the furnishings.

Activity 4:

The students will research what type of government was in the camp, what offices were held, and what role the military had in that government.

Activity 5:

Students can research the three different “thoughts” about the draft for WWII; the resisters, the voluntary draftees, and the individuals left in camp who couldn’t be drafted.

Activity 6:

Students research the social and recreation activities, job positions, and how the government was involved in this self-contained camp.

Activity 7:

Have students compare the Heart Mountain Sentinel to their local newspaper’s coverage of the Japanese American “Internment” with particular attention to their communities’ attitudes toward the Japanese. (All these can be found online)


The students will gain comprehension of artwork that was created in camp for home decoration, pastime activities, and school work.

Activity 1:

Students will make dioramas using resources from the Heart Mountain website and other sources.

Activity 2:

The students make kites using their own design or using outside sources for examples.

Activity 3:

Students can study the different types of Japanese music, plays and traditional instruments using the internet and books like Kids Explore America’s Japanese American Heritage or other sources.


Students learn about the vegetables and crops raised at Heart Mountain for camp consumption and commercial distribution. They will grow plants to learn the growth cycles, plant parts, and soil types. They can share this with others through mentoring, as gifts, or for personal use like the internees, the students will learn this.

Activity 1:

Students will research and grow Heart Mountain vegetable crops with the help of mentors.

a) Plants can be transplanted to the James O. Ito Historic garden at the Center to represent the crops and techniques used by those who farmed at Heart Mountain.

b) Plants could also be used by students for fund raising purposes.

c) Plants or flowers can be used for arrangements for a holiday gift or another occasion.

Activity 2:

Students will research which crops were grown at Heart Mountain, why, and for what economical or personal purpose.

Activity 3:

The James O. Ito Historic Garden at the Center hosts a combination of 12 raised beds and planters. Classes can choose to adopt a container for a month or for an entire school year. Students will have to maintain the bed in accordance to Center staff instruction. In the fall students will put the garden to bed for the winter, which includes clean-up and seed collection. In the spring students will prepare the beds for plants and transplanting the plants researched and grown in Activity 1 and 2. Class photos can be posted in the adopted beds.

Middle School Education

Middle school education at heart mountain learning center in powell.
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