Freedom from Fear: What Do You Worry About?


Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear represents one American family’s experience during World War II, a time when many people faced fear due to the war raging in Europe. Even today, people all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have fears. This activity gives students an opportunity to express their fears and share their strategies for overcoming or dealing with them.

Share the book, Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henks, with students. This story focuses on the worries and fears experienced by a fictional character, and can serve as a jumping off point for student discussion of the theme.

Enduring Understandings / Essential Questions:

  1. Everyone fears and worries about things.
  2. Some fears that people have may be related to what is going on in the world.
  3. People find different ways to overcome their fears and worries.
    • What are some things that you fear or worry about?
    • What do you do to overcome these fears and worries?


Four Freedoms
This activity may be completed over 2 or 3 periods of 20 minutes.
Social Studies; Language Arts: Reading; Language Arts: Speaking and Listening
Worry; Fear; Strategy; Confidence; Overcome


  • Students will identify literary elements in the story, which has been read aloud.
  • Students will make inferences related to the details of the story.
  • Students will share thoughts and feelings about the things they worry about.
  • Students will demonstrate use of civic virtues when participating in a group discussion, such as courtesy, taking turns when expressing ideas, attentive listening, and empathy for others.
  • Students will listen and be respectful of the point of view of others.


Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear depicts two parents checking on their children, who are asleep in their bedroom at night. In the piece, a black cloth possibly utilized as a black-out curtain rests on the back of the chair, streetlights are reflected in the picture above the bed, and the lights from downstairs are seen in the stairway. The father is holding a copy of their local newspaper, The Bennington Banner, which has a headline alluding to the ongoing war. In Europe during wartime, many families were separated as some children were relocated away from urban areas, which were more likely to come under attack.


Media Resources

Freedom from Fear

Classroom Supplies:

  • Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow Books, 2010)
  • Large paper pad or white board, marker
  • Copy of activity sheet or drawing paper for each student
  • Pencils, crayons


  • Review and reflect on the close reading of Freedom from Fear.
  • Show students the cover of the book, Wemberly Worried. What information do they glean from the cover illustration? Who is the book about? What will we learn about Wemberly? What does the word “worried” mean? How might this book connect to Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Fear?
  • Read aloud Wemberly Worried by Kevin Henkes.

Stop and Talk - Pose the Following Questions to the Class:

  • On Page 5: What have we learned about Wemberly and the ways in which her fears affect her? Have you heard the phrase “go with the flow” before? What does “go with the flow” mean?
  • On Page 8: What things does Wemberly worry about at home and on the playground? Do any of you ever worry about things at home? On the playground?
  • On Page 11: What does Wemberly do when she is worried? Does this strategy help her to overcome her fears?
  • On Page 21: What is Wemberly’s new worry? Did any of you have worries about your first day of school, like Wemberly? Wemberly rubs Petal’s ear when she is very worried. Do you have a way to try to calm yourself when you are worried?
  • End of Story: Ask students to recap characters, plot and setting in either a pair share or with volunteers speaking to the whole group.  What helps Wemberly to overcome her worries about school? Do you think she will continue to worry about everything like she did before? She and Jewell share a strategy to help them. What is it?



  • After students have the opportunity to share their observations with the group or in partnerships, create a t-chart recording things that students worry about, as well as their coping strategies.  
  • Provide students with an activity sheet or drawing paper. Ask them to create an illustration of something that makes them feel comfortable and calm.
  • Invite students to share their illustrations and the stories behind them.  



  • Did students identify elements of the story, such as character, plot, and setting?
  • Did they use story details to make supported inferences?
  • Were students respectful to classmates?
  • Were students comfortable sharing their worries and strategies?
  • Did students create illustrations that reflected understanding of task?

Activity sheet needs to be uploaded


This curriculum meets the standards listed below. Look for more details on these standards please visit: ELA and Math StandardsSocial Studies Standards, Visual Arts Standards.

Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings or appeal to the senses.
Use illustrations and details in a story to describe its characters, setting, or events.
Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
Describe how words and phrases (e.g., regular beats, alliteration, rhymes, repeated lines) supply rhythm and meaning in a story, poem, or song.
Use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.
With prompting and support, ask and answer questions about key details in a text.
With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
Ask and answer questions about unknown words in a text.
With prompting and support, describe the relationship between illustrations and the story in which they appear (e.g., what moment in a story an illustration depicts).
Describe people, places, things, and events with relevant details, expressing ideas and feelings clearly.
Tell a story or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking audibly in coherent sentences.
Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide some sense of closure.
Write informative/explanatory texts in which they introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to compose informative/explanatory texts in which they name what they are writing about and supply some information about the topic.
Compare their own point of view with others' perspectives.
Apply civic virtues when participation in school settings.
Compare life in the past to life today.
Evaluate a source by distinguishing between fact and opinion.
Ask and answer questions about explanations.