Student Activities to Help Us

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Student Activities to Help Us

Understand

and


Remember

based on
Erika’s Story


Written by Ruth Vander Zee

Illustrated by Roberto Innocenti


Published by

Creative Editions

123 Broad Street

Mankato, MN 56001

Contents

Historical Background of the Holocaust pg. 3

4th grade readability (reproducible page)

Worksheet on Historical Background of

of the Holocaust (reproducible page) pg. 4, 5
Introduction -Historical Background

of the Holocaust pg. 6

7th grade + readability (reproducible page)
Discussion Questions on Historical Background

of the Holocaust

Recalling Questions (reproducible page) pg. 7

Interpreting Questions (reproducible page) pg. 8, 9

Recalling Questions (answer guide) pg. 10

Interpreting Questions (answer guide) pg. 11


Discussion Questions on Erika’s Story

Recalling Questions (reproducible page) pg. 12, 13 Interpreting Questions (reproducible page) pg. 13, 14, 15, 16 Recalling Questions (answer guide) pg. 17

Interpreting Questions (answer guide) pg. 18, 19


Glossary of Terms pg. 20, 21

Activity # 1 – Creating a Memorial Wall pg. 22 -26

Activity # 2 – Story Bits pg. 27, 28, 29

Bibliography pg. 30, 31

Name_______________________________

Date________________________________
Background Information of the Holocaust

Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany from 1933 to 1945. We know


this time as the Holocaust. Hitler hated all Jews and wanted to get rid of
them.
He first forced Jewish people to leave their homes. They had to live in
crowded sections of cities called ghettos. His soldiers robbed the Jews of
everything they owned. Armed guards put the people on cattle cars of
trains and brought them to work camps.
Mothers and fathers were separated from each other in the camps.
Many children never saw their parents again.
Adults and children worked from early morning to late at night.
Soldiers with guns stood over them. The people were not given much food
to eat.
More than 6,000,000 people were killed during this time.
The mother in Erika’s Story had to make a sad choice because she
loved her child. She hoped it was better for Erika to be thrown off the train
rather than go to a concentration camp. Erika spent her whole life thinking
about her parents.

Name___________________________________

Date____________________________________

Erika’s Story – Messages


As you read in Erika
s Story, the Jews were put in cattle cars of trains and brought to extermination camps. Cars that were made to hold 8 horses usually carried over 100 people.

Many people tucked messages on scraps of paper into the spaces between the boards of the cattle cars. In these messages, people often gave warnings, told of their love to family and friends, and let others know what was really going on.

Look at the seven black and white illustrations in Erika
s Story and write a message to someone about each picture.

You may:


Tell what you think is happening

Give a warning

Write what you feel the people were feeling or thinking







2.
Message Worksheet, cont. Name__________________________________________







Look at the last color illustration in the book. Write the message you think Erika might write to her mother if she had the chance.




INTRODUCTION
Historical Background of
Erika’s Story
Erika’s Story is one woman’s tragic account of what happened to her and her family during the Holocaust. To understand what was going on that would cause Erika’s mother to make the decision she did, we have to understand the reasons for the unrest in the world.
The Nazi Party was begun in Germany just after World War I. Adolf Hitler joined the party in 1919 and soon became its leader. By 1930, Hitler had become the chancellor of Germany and created a Nazi dictatorship. The years between 1933 and 1945 are known as the Holocaust because that is when Hitler systematically persecuted the Jews. The word Holocaust means destruction by fire.

There were three main reasons World War II began.

a. many economic and social problems left over from World War I

b. the rise of dictatorships

c. the desire of Germany, Italy, and Japan for more territory

Germany had many debts after World War I and the country, along with Italy and Japan, was in an economic depression. These three countries felt that the Treaty of Versailles which was signed after World War I gave other countries an unfair economic advantage over them. Many people joined the Nazi party in Germany because it promised them jobs, prosperity, and respect from the world community. Not only that, Hitler began to rebuild Germany’s military strength. People began to believe that he could bring the world under German control. He systematically trained boys and girls in military discipline.
One of the worst things Hitler did was to begin to discriminate against the Jews. He felt they were a threat to his economic development. He also believed in the supremacy of the Aryan race –that is a Caucasian who is non-Jewish. He began terrorizing Jewish communities. Everything they owned was taken from them. They were often taken from their homes and forced to live in ghettos.
At the same time, he built concentration camps which were primarily extermination camps. Jews were brought to these camps in cattle cars and then forced to live and work as slave labor. There was little food and no sanitation. Families were split up. The people were verbally and physically abused. Many died in the camps because of terrible diseases and more were murdered by gun shots, cyanide or carbon monoxide gas, electrocution or phenol injections when they were no longer able to work.

As you read Erika’s Story, it is important to try to understand the terror with which her family lived and why they might have made the decisions they did. More importantly, it is necessary that we understand that brutality and devaluing of the human spirit affects every person involved. No person can brutalize and no person can be brutalized without it affecting their spirit – without it filling their hearts with sorrow, shame, guilt, or a thousand other feelings. Erika’s mother made an unthinkable decision during a time of overwhelming suffering. Erika spent a lifetime searching for her past, trying to understand the reality of her present, and looking with hope to her future.
Name___________________________________

Date____________________________________




Erika’s Story

Questions on the Historical Background of the Holocaust
Recalling Questions:
1. Three major nations (Axis nations) banded together before and during World War II to try and regain power they had lost during World War I. Who were these nations? ______________________________________________________________________

2. What was the most important thing the Axis nations felt they had lost after

World War I? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Who became chancellor of Germany in 1930? _______________________________

4. The Jews were targeted by Hitler as the ones needing to be eliminated. As a result, 6,000,000 Jews were killed. What reasons did he give for this? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. What did Hitler do to make sure that all Jews were either kept under control or eliminated? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. What is the meaning of the word Holocaust? ________________________________

7. What was the result of Hitler’s hatred towards the Jews? ______________________

_______________________________________________________________________

2.

Name_____________________________
Questions on the Historical Background of the Holocaust cont.
Interpreting Questions:
1. Do you think it is important for us to study and remember the Holocaust? Why or why not? __________________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2. What is meant by the term “hate crimes?” __________________________________

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. Who gets hurt when one group is hateful to another? _________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4. Hitler made laws in 1935 which stripped all German Jews of their rights to citizenship. They were no longer considered persons with any rights. Jewish children no longer had the right to go to school. Their parents no longer had the right to do the jobs for which they were trained. They could not vote. They did not have the right to shop where they wanted or have any kind of representation.

How do you think you would feel if all of your rights would be taken from you? Explain.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3.

Name_____________________________

Questions on the Historical Background of the Holocaust cont.

5. What can you do where you are right now to make sure that in your city, school, or home there are not attitudes which promote hatred and prejudice? ___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. When you are aware of hateful attitudes of prejudicial behavior towards someone, is it ok to stand by and hope it goes away? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Erika’s Story

Questions for Discussion

on the Historical Background of the Holocaust

(Answer Guide)


RECALLING QUESTIONS
1. Three major nations (Axis nations) banded together before and during World War II to try and regain power they had lost during World War I. Who were those nations? Germany, Japan, and Italy

2. What was the most important thing the Axis nations felt they had lost after World War I? The Axis countries (Germany, Italy, and Japan) believed that the Treaty of Versailles which was signed after World War I was unjust and gave most other countries control over most of the world’s wealth. As a result they had serious economic problems. The Axis countries had huge war debts and they could not find markets for the products they produced.

3. Who became the chancellor of Germany? Adolf Hitler
4. The Jews were targeted by Hitler as the ones needing to be eliminated. As a result, 6,000,000 Jews were killed. What reasons did he give for this?

Hitler blamed the Jews for the economic problems he had, and he felt they were responsible for all the evil in the world. Furthermore, he believed that Germans were the highest species of the human race. He wanted them to remain pure and not marry or have anything to do with Jews.


5. What did Hitler do to make sure that all Jews were either kept under control or eliminated? First he took everything they owned. Then he moved them into small areas of a large city called ghettos where they were completely under his control. Later they were moved by train to concentration camps or extermination camps. They were given little food. They were beaten and forced to work under the harshest of circumstances. Many were killed in various ways.
6. What is the meaning of the word Holocaust? Fire that Destroys
7. What was the result of Hitler’s hatred towards the Jews? 6,000,000 Jews were killed between 1833 and 1945

Questions for Discussion

on the Historical Background of the Holocaust cont.

(Answer Guide)


INTERPRETING QUESTIONS
1. Do you think it is important for us to study and remember the Holocaust? Why or why not? Answer will vary

2. What is meant by the term “hate crimes?” A vile act committed by someone who considers others to be worth less than themselves. Why do you think hate crimes happen? Here it would be good to discuss prejudice and stereotyping. Reflect on stereotyping and prejudice by having students complete sentences like: The popular group at school is…., or All homeless people are…., or Principals of schools are…., or Single parents are… Using examples of prejudice and stereotyping that are representative of the area in which you live would be helpful to show children how quickly we judge others without understanding their situation or the value they give to our community.

3. Who gets hurt when one group is hateful to another? Everyone. Try and help students see that the most obvious people who get hurt and are the most immediately threatened are the ones who are under attack. But when anyone engages in hateful activity, when anyone sets themselves up as superior and thereby having the right to hurt or demean others, they are also harming their own human spirit.

4. Hitler made laws in 1935 which stripped all German Jews of their rights to citizenship. They were no longer considered persons with any rights. Jewish children no longer had the right to go to school. Their parents no longer had the right to do the jobs for which they were trained. They couldn’t vote. They did not have the right to shop where they wanted or have any kind of representation.


How do you think you would feel if all of your rights would be taken from you? Angry, scared, defiant, powerless, suspicious of others, worried for the future, defeated. Some might resist courageously while others might do what they had to to get what they wanted. In Germany, some Jews helped the Nazis.

5. What can you do where you are right now to make sure that in your school or home there are not attitudes which promote hatred and prejudice?

Answer will vary

6. When you are aware of hateful attitudes or prejudicial behavior towards someone, is it ok to stand by and hope it goes away? No. First of all you should never participate in it. Secondly, if it is in your power to stop it, do so. Thirdly, tell an adult whom you trust who can help in the situation.


Name___________________________________

Date____________________________________

Erika’s Story

Questions for Discussion

based on Erika’s Story

RECALLING QUESTIONS

1. Who is the main character in the story? ____________________________________

How old is she when she tells her story? ______________________________________

2. Where did the author meet Erika? ________________________________________

3. What were the years of the Holocaust? ____________________________________

4. Why is it significant that the author met Erika in 1995?

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


5. Who were the Allied countries? Who were the Axis countries? For the answer to this, look in your history book or encyclopedia. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Erika’s Story was written in 1995. Why do you think the merchant in Rothenburg, Germany spoke to the author about the condition of the city after the storm? _______________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

2.

Name_____________________________

Questions for Discussion based on Erika’s Story, cont.

7. In Erika’s Story, how does Erika imagine what life was like for her parents? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

8. What does Erika imagine the train ride was like for her parents?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9. From what she says, how would you describe Erika’s childhood?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. How does Erika feel about her life at the end of the book?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Interpreting Questions:
1. Look at the choices of colors the artist used to illustrate Erika’s Story. What mood does his choice of color suggest to you?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3.
Name______________________________

Questions for Discussion based on Erika’s Story, cont.

2. In Erika’s Story, Erika imagines what life was like for her parents – being forced from their home, relocated into a ghetto. Yet she still imagines them having hope that they were going to a better place where they would have food and work. How does the illustrator show that the people had hope as they were being herded onto the cattle car? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

3. What do you think the word “verboten” means? _____________________________

4. Why do you think the baby buggy is left behind? Why is that significant? _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5. In the story, Erika imagines what it was like for her mother to throw her from the train. Look at the picture of the train passing the railway crossing. Do you see the opening at the top of the cattle car? That was the only opening for ventilation in that car except for the cracks between the wooden boards. Why do you think Erika’s mother was so desperate for her daughter to be in a better place? _______________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

6. Look at the last illustration in the book. Erika is watching the train go by. What do you suppose she is thinking? __________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

7. Erika does not provide us with many details about the woman who found her. What do you think their relationship was like? ______________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

4.
Name______________________________

Questions for Discussion based on Erika’s Story cont.
8. What do you think Erika means when she says that her tree one again has roots and that her star still shines? __________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

9. Why do you think the illustrator made the decision to paint only two illustrations in color and for the other illustrations to have just a little color in them? _______________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

10. Did you notice that none of the pictures show the faces of people? Why do you think the illustrator made this decision? ___________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

11. What is the significance of the yellow star on the last page of the story? __________

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

12. How does Erika’s Story illustrate that everyone is affected by the evil activities of a few? __________________________________________________________________

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

5.


Name______________________________

Questions for Discussion based on Erika’s Story cont.

13. Does Erika’s Story remind you of any part of your story or the story of someone you love? Have you ever been separated from your parents? Are you adopted? Have you ever been afraid of someone who might hurt you? Have you ever seen someone you love struggle with a difficult decision? Have you seen someone risk their life for another? Have you ever felt like you lost something very valuable and that it could never be replaced? Do you know someone who has a positive and hopeful spirit even thought they have been through many difficult experiences?

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Erika’s Story

Questions for Discussion

based on Erika’s Story

(Answer Guide)

1. Who is the main character in the story? Erika How old is she when she tells her story? She is a grandmother wondering and remembering what her childhood was like.
2. Where did the author meet Erika? Rothenburg, Germany
3. What were the years included in the time called the Holocaust? 1933 - 1945

4. Why is it significant that the author met Erika in 1995? 1995 was the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II.


5. Who were the Allied countries? The United States, England, France, and Russia. Who were the Axis countries? Germany, Italy, Japan

6. Erika’s Story was written in 1995. Why do you think the merchant in Rothenburg, Germany spoke to the author about the condition of the city after the storm? He still remembered the war. Perhaps he was still upset about what the Allied countries had done to his country during the war.


7. In Erika’s Story, how does Erika imagine what life was like for her parents? She imagines them forced from their home, relocated into a ghetto. She imagines them hoping that they were being taken to a better place where they could find housing and work.
8. What does Erika imagine the train ride was like for her parents? She imagines them crowded together on a filthy cattle car which was built to carry eight horses. Instead there were probably over 100 people crushed together in that car. She also imagines the painful decision her mother made to throw her from the train.
9. From what she says, how would you describe Erika’s childhood? Answers will vary

10. How does Erika feel about her life at the end of the book? Hopeful. She has a wonderful husband, children and grandchildren whom she loves, and she says her star still shines.

Discussion Questions on Erika’s Story, cont.


INTERPRETING QUESTIONS
1. Look at the choices of colors the artist used to illustrate Erika’s Story. What mood does his choice of color suggest to you? The sepia tones could suggest an old photograph. Colors that would suggest remembering a past time.
2. In Erika’s Story, Erika imagines what life was like for her parents – being forced from their home, relocated into a ghetto. Yet she still imagines them having hope that they were going to a better place where they would have food and work. How does the illustrator show that the people had hope as they were being herded onto the cattle car? On the “Verboten” page, we see the people lined up getting on the train. They are dressed neatly and not particularly warmly. They are carrying small parcels (which is all they were allowed), looking as if they are expecting a short ride to a better place. On later pictures in the book, you see the little girls in dress shoes and women in high heels.
3. What does the word “verboten” mean? Forbidden. In other words, do not go beyond this point.
4. Why do you think the baby buggy is left behind? Why is that significant? Erika’s mother probably brought Erika to the train station in the buggy, hoping to keep her in there on the ride to the better place. Instead, she was commanded to leave it behind. Erika’s mother will not have the luxury of rocking her baby to sleep on the train in that baby buggy. The mother will stand, holding Erika for the long ride. The buggy stands desolately on the platform as a symbol of every civil part of their lives – every possession which is taken from them.

5. In the story, Erika imagines what it was like for her mother to throw her from the train. Look at the picture of the train passing the railway crossing. Do you see the opening at the top of the cattle car? That was the only opening for ventilation in that car except for the cracks between the wooden boards. Why do you think Erika’s mother was so desperate for her daughter to be in a better place? Erika’s mother must have realized that their dreams of a better place were not going to happen. The conditions in the car were deplorable. She made the painful decision that her daughter might be safer thrown from the train – away from the love that she as a mother would give – into an unknown place where perhaps someone would care for her daughter.

6. Look at the last illustration in the book. Erika is watching the train go by. What do you suppose she is thinking? She is probably thinking about her mother as she sees the train going by. These are undoubtedly the same tracks from which she was rescued. She might be wondering what her life would have been like if her mother were still alive.
7. Erika doesn’t provide us with many details about the woman who found her. What do you think their relationship was like? Answers will vary
8. What do you think Erika means when she says that her tree once again has roots and that her star still shines? She is grown, has a wonderful husband, and a family of her own. Even though she has no idea where her family tree began, she has the beginning of a new family tree with her husband, children, and grandchildren. She did not die during the Holocaust, so even though her father and mother’s stars fell during the war, her star still shines and she still has hope.
Discussion Questions on Erika’s Story, cont.

9. Why do you think the illustrator made the decision to paint only two Illustrations in color and for the other illustrations to have just a little color in them? He only used color in the illustrations which show Erika. It is her story. The first illustration shows her sitting on the curb talking to the author. She is wrapped in a pink blanket when she is thrown from the train. The last illustration shows her in her life with the woman who cared for her. She is wearing a pink skirt in that illustration.

10. Did you notice that none of the pictures show the faces of people? Why do you think the illustrator made this decision? Because our faces usually are the first ways people identify us, Mr. Innocenti decided not to show anyone’s faces. He felt that because Erika had spent most of her life wondering about her identity, no one’s face should be illustrated.

11. What is the significance of the yellow star on the last page of the story? It shows the hope she has that her star still shines, that she has a beautiful present and a hopeful future.

12. How does Erika’s Story illustrate that everyone is affected by the evil activities of a few?


  • Erika’s mother and father made a decision that no one would ever want to make. They had to decide whether their baby was safer with them or safer being thrown away from them.

  • Erika’s parents were undoubtedly killed and if they weren’t, were never reunited with their daughter.

  • The woman who picked up Erika probably never intended to raise a child she didn’t even know. And yet she risked her life and cared for Erika until she was grown.

  • Erika would wake up in the morning, look in the mirror and wonder who she was, where she had come from, and what her life would have been like under different circumstances. She spent a lifetime searching for her own identity.

  • And even though specific Nazis are not mentioned in the book, their sadistic activities are well documented and are the reason so many people, including Erika and her parents suffered. History tells us that many lived with guilt, shame, anger, and self loathing, but some went to their graves with the consuming hatred that dominated their lives. No one can be involved in vile activities which continually demean others without destroying their own spirit. There is no peace in a hateful spirit.

13. Does Erika’s Story remind you of any part of your story or the story of someone you love? Have you ever been separated from your parents? Are you adopted? Have you ever been afraid of someone who might hurt you? Have you ever seen someone you love struggle with a difficult decision? Have you seen someone risk their life for another? Have you ever felt like you lost something very valuable and that it could never be replaced? Do you know someone who has a positive and hopeful spirit even though they have been through many difficult experiences? Answer will vary


Erika’s Story

Glossary of Terms



Allied Nations During World War II, France, Great Britain, Russia, and the United States were united by treaties to fight against the Axis nations, Germany, Italy, Japan and other nations who were their allies.
Cattle car Train cars made for the purpose of hauling cattle. These cars were made to hold eight horses. During the war they were used for transporting people – political prisoners. When hauling the prisoners they usually carried 120 – 130 men, women, and children. In Erika’s Story, the author describes the mother throwing her child out of an opening near the top of the car. There was often a small opening near the top of the car on the last panel which was there for a fresh air. (See the illustration in Erika’s Story)
Death camps Camps built to exterminate the Jews through gas chambers. Carbon monoxide and Zyklon B were piped into chambers made to look like shower stalls. After their deaths, the bodies were either buried in mass graves or loaded into ovens and burned.
Concentration camps were prison camps where many people were sent if they were considered dangerous or a threat to the Nazi party. Supposedly they were labor camps. Prisoners were often starved to death or worked under such cruel conditions that they died. They were places of extreme brutality. Over 100 of these camps were placed throughout Europe – often near railroad lines.

Ghetto Small, run-down sections of cities through-out Europe under German control where Jews were forced to live until they were transported to a death camp or a concentration camp. By the time they had entered the ghetto, most of their belongings had been taken from them. There was not adequate food. Most people lived on about 350 calories a day. Sickness and poor sanitation made the ghettos a difficult place to thrive.

Glossary cont.


Holocaust The period from 1933 – 1945 when the Nazis ruled Europe. It was their goal to make Europe free of Jews. During this time the Nazis systematically planned the extermination of 6,000,000 European Jews. The word holocaust comes from the Greek. It originally meant offering a sacrifice to God that was completely burned. After 1945 it came to mean any large number of people who are destroyed by fire.

Nazi The ruling power in Germany from 1933 – 1945. Nazis were members of the National Socialist German Workers Party. Their leader was Adolf Hitler. The Nazi party came into power after Germany lost World War I. At that time the people of Germany were suffering because of unemployment and poor government. Hitler was a very convincing speaker. He was recognized by many as a leader. He promised economic strength and considered one of his main purposes to make Germany “racially pure.” This meant that no Jew could be a citizen of Germany. Many non-Jews also perished in the Holocaust.

Star of David A six-pointed star made by intertwining two triangles. During the Holocaust the stars were made of yellow cloth and sewn to the clothing of European Jews to allow for easy identification.

Activity #1


Erika’s Story
CREATE A MEMORIAL WALL

The purpose of this activity is to help students visualize what


6,000,000 looks like. In the book, Erika’s Story, Erika talks about the fact
that 6,000,000 of her people were killed between 1933 and 1945. By
participating in this activity, students will begin to understand the magnitude

of this number. They will also discover that this number not only represents

people whose life was ended in the most cruel of ways but it also represents
people like Erika. Erika survived the Holocaust, but her family tree was
uprooted and she spent a lifetime trying to discover who she was and from
where she came. Erika does not have a star representing herself because
she survived the Holocaust, yet her life was deeply affected by two of
those 6,000,000 stars representing her parents. She never knew her
parents and yet their death affects her deeply and she yearns to know them.


Erika’s Story

There are 10,000 stars on this page.

Each star represents one person whose
family history
was altered forever.

To represent the 6,000,000 Jewish men, women, and children


who were killed from 1933 to 1945,
this page must be reproduced 600 times.

Activity #1 cont.



Erika’s Story

Math Activity

(Teacher would have to be willing to duplicate the star page 600 times and assist students in preparing the wall, having a method of taping pages together, and assigning students to designate which stars represent different social groups.)


1. If there are 10,000 stars on this page, how many pages would you have to reproduce to have 6,000,000 stars?
2. If you reproduced these pages on 8 ½” x 11” paper, how large a wall space would be needed to display all the stars? Where is there

a wall large enough in your school to display a wall of stars?

3. How many stars would represent your class? Draw a line around these stars and label them.

4. How many stars would represent your school population? Draw a line around these stars and label them.
5. How large an area of stars would represent the town or city in

which you live? Draw a line around these stars and label them.



Literature/Writing Activities
1. Speak to a member of your community or family whose lives were affected by the death of one of those six-million people. Circle one star and place the name of the living person near it.
2. Find quotes from books you have read about the Holocaust, print them neatly, and place them artistically on your wall of stars.
3. Write a poem using any form of poetry you have studied to tell how you feel about what you have heard and learned about the Holocaust.

Activity #1 cont.


4. Write a press release about your Memorial Wall and submit it to a local newspaper.


5. Make an appointment and ask if you could interview people who either survived the Holocaust or who lived during World War II. Ask them to tell you of their experiences. Take good notes of what they tell you.


Using your finest writing skills, write what they tell you. If enough of your classmates do this, compile these stories in a book that your class publishes.

6. In many ways, Erika’s Story is rhetorical. In other words, it is a story that many people can relate to because they have also felt loss, searched for their own identity, or have had to make difficult decisions. Write your own story or interview someone who might have had a similar experience.

7. Invite students from other classes to an assembly in which you talk about what you have learned about the Holocaust or call your local TV station and present your wall and what you have learned to a reporter.

Activity #2


Erika’s Story


Story Bits
The purpose of this activity is to allow students to immerse themselves in the

Book, Erika’s Story and from there, find connections to their own experience.

Story becomes powerful when we connect our story to the one on the

printed page. It is the basic themes of story which connects all humanity.

Activity: THE LAST WORD



  • Read Erika’s Story to the students. If classroom copies are available, have each student follow along in their own copy. Before you begin, tell them to listen to the story carefully and also observe the illustrations because you are going to ask them questions when you have finished.




  • Either read the story a second time, or if classroom copies are available, ask the students to write down a time in the story when they heard a word or idea or saw a picture which reminded them of something from their own experience, something they have previously seen, something they have learned, or something which has been told to them.




  • Give students a chance to

1. write down their quote from the book on the board

2. write their observation of one of the illustrations on the board.




  • Student who wrote the quote does not explain at this time




  • Have other students respond to what student wrote. e.g. “That quote also reminded me of when my mother had to make a difficult decision about whether to keep my grandmother at home or bring her to a nursing home.”

Activity #2, cont.




  • Student who wrote the quote gets the LAST WORD and explains why they chose to write what they did on the board..

  • Ask what universal themes are present in Erika’s Story. Loss, identity, rejection, love, hate, adoption, prejudice, fear, difficult decisions,

Alternative: Get a selection of books listed in the bibliography and have students page through the books looking only at illustrations. From the illustrations, have them write down their connections to the stories.

Alternative: This could be the beginning of a writing activity for your students. On the following page is a writing page. Encourage your students to write from their own experience on some of the universal themes in Erika’s Story.

Name____________________________

Date_____________________________

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Erika’s Story

Bibliography of some of the many books for children and young adults to read on the subject of the Holocaust.


These books are listed only by author and title.
Abells, Chana Byers. The Children We Remember.
Adler, David A. The Number on My Grandfather’s Arm.
Auerbacher, Inge. I Am A Star-Child of the Holocaust.
Bachrach, Susan D. Tell Them We Remember: The Story of the Holocaust.
Bishop, Claire. Twenty and Ten.
Bunting, Eve. Terrible Things.
Deedy, Carmen Agra. The Yellow Star - The Legend of King Christian X of Denmark.
Finkelstein, Norman H. Remember Not to Forget: A Memory of the Holocaust.
Hesse, Karen. Letter From Rifka.
Hurwitz, Johanna. Anne Frank: Life in Hiding.
Innocenti, Roberto. Rose Blanche.
Isaacman, Clara and John A. Grossman. Clara’s Story.
Kerr, Judith. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.
Landau, Elaine. Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.
Levine, Karen. Hana’s Suitcase: A True Story.

Levitin, Sonia, Journey To America.

Lowery, Lois. Number the Stars.
Meltzer, Milton. Never To Forget: the Jews of the Holocaust.
Meltzer, Milton. Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust.
Oppenheim, S.L. The Lily Cupboard.
Bibliography cont.

Rogasky, Barbara. Smoke and Ashes.


Rochman, Hazel and Darlene Z. McCampbell. Bearing Witness.
Roth-Hano, Renee. Touch Wood: A Girlhood in Occupied France.
Rubin, Susan Goldman. Fireflies in the Dark - The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin.
Siegal, Aranka. Upon the Head of the Goat: A Childhood in Hungary.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus.
Tridenti, Lina. Anne Frank.
Prague State Jewish Museum. I Never Saw Another Butterfly.
Yolen, Jane. Devil’s Arithmetic.



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