Elementary Lesson Plans
When teaching about the Holocaust, it is important to keep the student's age in mind. The matrix and lessons provided below may be used as a guideline for the elementary grades.
Children in the primary grades can be expected to understand concepts related to family, similarities and differences in people, and getting along with others. According to Piaget (1969), children of this age should be expected to have difficulty with time-related concepts although they can develop conceptual understanding and learning processes about time that are important for future acquisition of historical concepts.
In the intermediate grades, students learn a great deal about history outside of school. This knowledge comes from experiences with historic buildings and sites, artifacts, stories told by relatives, and images presented in the media. Sharing objects, family heirlooms, an object from each year of the child's life is important. Beginning with students' experiences provides meaning and significance.
Students in the intermediate grades begin to practice skills such as decision making and conflict resolution, and to build tolerance and compassion for others.
It is strongly recommended that the term Holocaust not be introduced prior to the fifth grade. Beginning in fifth grade and continuing on through the middle grades is recommended that the students study about the events and history that led up to the final solution. The Diary of Anne Frank is typically reserved for eight grade. Teaching specifically about the camps and the final solution is best left for high school.
The following matrix was created by the Pinellas County Schools, Office of Community Services and Human Relations and The Florida Holocaust Museum and Educational Center to provide guidelines for Holocaust education in the elementary school.
THEMES/TOPICS SOCIAL STUDIES THE ARTS LANGUAGE ARTS ETHICS/ RESPONSIBILITIES RESEARCH/ THINKING
belonging, understanding, and appreciating differences; learning to get along recognizing similarities and differences of people and communities; variations in families; customs and values of diverse groups using art forms to understand family and cultural celebrations reading and writing in response to literature affect of rules on the way people live; living and working together; how people abide by rules of conduct and resolve their conflicts; promotion of tolerance, understanding, and acceptance accessing information using tables, charts, graphs; observe, identify, order, describe; and compare and contrast
confronting change; evaluating customs and values of groups in conflict; recognizing and resisting conditions detrimental to human development and opportunity recognizing changes over time; becoming a responsible, respectful member of democratic society; becoming aware of how democratic processes help to solve problems; learning how customs and values create different types of communities using art forms to gain an understanding of cultures from the past and present reading and writing for various purposes; using journals, diaries, and other forms of literature to gain an understanding of history solving problems and conflicts peaceably; making decisions and participating in a democracy; recognizing ethical and unethical uses of power; promoting tolerance, understanding, and acceptance locating, manipulating, and summarizing information from oral, visual, and written sources in addition to the above
The following activities were produced by a number of educators for a variety of elementary teaching situations. Please carefully consider the appropriateness of any activity before introducing it to your students. What may have worked well in one classroom may not be appropriate for students in another clasroom where educational background and life experiences may be substantially different.
Beginning Holocaust Studies. A thematic unit developed for fifth grade.
Camels and Pyramids. Students identify patterns and rhythm in art.
Deliberate Acts of Kindness. Students recognize and honor the kind acts of Holocaust liberators and rescuers, cultivate their ability to do kind acts, and realize the importance of those acts to others.
Elementary: K-4 Suggested Activities and Strategies.
Epidemic, Plague and Infection. Students recognize disease vectors (pathways) and risk factors for infectious disease
Folk Dances of Eastern Europe. Students experience folkdance as a form of expressive art and appreciate the rich cultural heritage of Eastern Europe.
A Holocaust Monument. Students use geometric shapes or forms to create a Holocaust monument.
Letter of Memorial. Students write a letter to a foreign language newspaper in memory of victims or ask that readers remember the lessons of the Holocaust.
The Lily Cupboard by Shulamith Ley Oppenheim. A lesson based on this book.
Molly's Pilgrim. A third grade unit from the Holocaust Outreach Center at Florida Atlantic University.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. Students become acquainted with the threat to all citizens, especially to Jewish citizens, resulting from the imposition of Nazi authority and appreciate the courage exhibited by ordinary people acting out of conscience.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. A lesson based on this book.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. This review by Carol Otis Hurst first appeared in Teaching K-8 Magazine.
Oral History. Students interview members of an older generation and present their findings. Activity includes questions that would be appropriate to use with a Holocaust survivor.
Population Density in the Ghettos. Students make calculations of population density and recognize the stressful conditions experienced by European ghetto dwellers due to high population density and scarcity of resources.
Shemini Atzeret: Simhat Torah. Students become acquainted with a part of the rich heritage of the Jewish people.
Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan. A lesson based on this book.
Starvation in the Ghettos. Students recognize the suffering and loss of life experienced in Holocaust ghettos due to food rationing, identify the basic food groups, USDA requirements and compare those to rations of ghetto and camp inmates.
Survivor Interview. Students listen to stories from survivors of the Holocaust.
Twenty and Ten. Holocaust Outreach Center - Florida Atlantic University: Fourth Grade Unit.
The Upstairs Room. A core book guide for The Upstairs Room.
Holocaust and Genocide Curriculum from the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.
Learning to be Friends, a unit of nine lesson plans for kindergarten through second grade from the New Jersey Holocaust Commission includes: Barney and Friends, Hola Mexico, Best Friends, Dumbo, For Every Child a Better World, Island of the Skog, Sneetches, The Dragon Kite, The Ugly Duckling, and Why Did It Happen.
Communities Are People, a unit of nine lesson plans for third and fourth grades from the New Jersey Holocaust Commission includes: Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad, Angel Child, Dragon Child, Different and Alike, Ethnic Pride, Miracle at Moreaux, Molly's Pilgrim, Number on my Grandfather's Arm, Soup, The Keeping Quilt, The Most Beautiful Place in the World, The Patchwork Quilt, The Point, The Red Balloon, and Young and Old Alike.
People Need People, a unit of six lesson plans for fifth and sixth grades from the New Jersey Holocaust Commission includes: Ajeemah and his Son, Children of the Wolf, I Never Saw Another Butterfly, Nightmare: The Immigration of Joachim and Rachel, Pocahontas--Indian Princess, and Set Straight on Bullies.
Teacher Workbook for the exhibit, Anne Frank in the World, 1929-1945. Produced by the Friends of Anne Frank in Utah and the Intermountain West Region.
Teresa Morretta's Holocaust lesson plans for grades 4-12.
Curricular resources bibliography from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Sunshine State Standards.
A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust
Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology,
College of Education, University of South Florida © 1997-2013.