Code Talkers

We believe that students can connect to history when it is presented in a story format. This story connects to our social studies content with World War II. The story is about a Navajo boy who is at a boarding school and is chosen to become a "code talker" for the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII. The Navajo language is used to send messages in code and is unbreakable by the Japanese. We want our students to see the impact and contributions that were made by the Navajo Code Talkers. We will compare and contrast the differences and similarities that the Navajo and Ojibwe nations share.

Materials Needed


Art Materials


Activity Process


Students will have studied the time-frame before World War II as background knowledge. The book The Unbreakable Code was used to set the stage for beginning the novel study on Code Breakers. A KWL chart could be used to get students engaged in the contributions Native Americans made during World War II and the effects on current society. Use a venn diagram to show the similarities between the two nations. Such as the eagle being an important symbol, and the loss of Native languages.


We talked about how to use the graphic organizers and the student journal for the writing piece of the project.As a culminating project students will be assigned a chapter of the book and find an image that they would create to represent that portion of the story. We will review the use of space and placement of imagery on the paper along with the use of white space.


  1. Create a KWL on Native American contributions to World War II
  2. Read The Unbreakable Code and discuss as a class.
  3. Read in literature circles Code Talkers. Use a student guide to answer questions and guide discussion-discuss as a large group daily.
  4. Arrange weekly vocabulary/spelling words that require reading the word in context, finding the part of speech, and the real meaning of the words along with using the words in a sentence of their own. This will also build the spelling list for the week.
  5. We used a Smart Notebook lesson to help guide daily discussion(see resources for files), included on the file were maps, video clips of the author along with other information that would help our students understand the Navajo code talkers as well as the impact of WWII.
  6. To culminate the novel we toured the Minnesota Historical Society which had an exhibit on "Native Warriors".


Students will create an image based on an assigned chapter to retell the book through visual strategies. We will discuss compositional space and image arrangements in order to communicate our intended story.


We reflect on journal entries, quiz on vocabulary retention, work towards the accelerated reader test, and display the images of the chapters designed by the students

Vocabulary Words


Over all the students were really engaged in the book. The average test score according to and Accelerated Reader test in one classroom was 81.8%. They enjoyed the opportunity to use the Ojibwe language in a different way.

Grade Levels

Primary Content Area

American Indian Learner Outcomes

Content Standards

Language Arts

Social Studies