Investigate the Invasion of Normandy as you explore Rockwell’s painting, “War news”.

Rockwell never finished this painting but it was intended for The Saturday Evening Post. Painted in January or February of 1944 about the proposed invasion of Normandy, it depicts a restaurant counterman with his costumers as they gather around listening to a radio report. What was the news of the day? If Rockwell had finished the painting the blank newspaper on the counter would have included the headline of the January 17th 1944 Times Record: “Invasion Plans At France Possible.”


  • Explore the events leading up to the invasion of Normandy


  • A printed or digital copy of “War News”.
  • Writing paper
  • Books and websites detailing the events and times leading up to Normandy

War News, Norman Rockwell. 1945.
©1945 SEPS: Licensed by Curtis Publishing, Indianapolis, IN

[One line activity for teaser: What is the missing headline on the newspaper?]



  • Show students the illustration without giving them any information on the painting. Ask:
    • What do you notice about this painting? What is the setting? What are the characters wearing? What are they doing? What objects do you notice?
    • What do these details tell you about when this painting may have been created? If necessary, draw children’s attention to the radio. Ask, do we still listen to radios like this? Why not?  Why is the radio there? How is it being used?


  • Reveal when this painting was created (1944) make a list of all the things students know about this year or time.
  • If students are not studying this time frame, work together to do some research.
  • Based on what students now know, say, the characters in this scene are listening to a news report. What do you think the news report is about?
  • Now draw their attention to the blank newspaper if they have not already noticed it. Explain that Rockwell did not have a chance to finish the illustration but had intended to put a headline on the paper. Ask, “Based on what you know, what might the headline have been.
  • Encourage students to create their own historically relevant headlines.
  • Have students share their headlines and then reveal the headline that Rockwell was intending to include.


Try these activities to go even farther with your explorations.


  • Have students write news articles that may have been included in paper that sits on the counter. Have them do research on the events leading up to Normandy and then choose one to write a news article about.
  • You may even give them some article from the same time period and ask them to emulate the style and tone.


  • Break students into small groups and ask them to “fact check” each other’s articles.