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How to Teach Children About the Holocaust

As a Messianic family that loves Israel and the Jewish people, this subject is near and dear to my heart. I’m grappling with how to teach children about the Holocaust. My boys are 14, 12, and 10, so shielding them from the atrocities is not really necessary, but obviously, we will approach the subject from an age-appropriate point of view.  But from what perspective do you teach it? There are so many facets that need to be covered and discussed, it is hard to determine the place to dive in.  How do you make this subject manageable?

How to Teach Children About the Holocaust

I have been teaching the boys about the Holocaust for many years, but this year we are trying something new.  This year we are joining our friends over at the Homeschool Roster for a field trip to see a play at Playhouse on the Square, Wendy Kesselman’s adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank. We are going to examine how the Holocaust impacted one family, and really, just one girl. A girl about the same age as my boys. A girl who also attended a Montessori school. A girl who loved the same God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In preparation for us seeing the play, we have started reading the Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank. As always, we purchased a Kindle version so I can share it on all of their Kindles and they can read along. However, I am reading it aloud to the entire family. (Yes, we still read to the boys!)  In order to really understand the Holocaust, our children have to see and feel Antisemitism. I think that is a hard concept to teach when it is impersonal. Teaching it from one person’s perspective makes it more “real” or identifiable. It makes it personal.  You certainly don’t have to use Anne Frank as your person  you follow, there are several biographies out there to choose from.  I have provided some of the well known biographies below that have great reviews.

 


When teaching such a difficult subject, it helps to define your objectives clearly.  For a Middle and High School homeschool, your list of objectives might look something like this:

judaism1.  Acquaint your children with basic beliefs and customs of Judaism and the roots of Christianity.  This might be accomplished by visiting a Rabbi or synagogue to discuss some of the basic rituals and beliefs of Judaism. You can also purchase a children’s book on Judaism such as Celebrate, a book of Jewish Holidays or Judaism, a DK Eyewitness Book

2.  Acquaint your children with what antisemitism is. I highly recommend you create timelines depicting the major events of antisemitism. antisemitism Because this started long before Hitler. I can guarantee that you will learn something yourself with researching this topic. I did and still do every single time I study this topic.  I am horrified at what these people have been through.

WWII Europe19143.  Define:  democracy, fascism, communism, and socialism. Have your children list countries where each of these ideologies existed during the Holocaust. As a great extension for older children, have them list countries where these ideologies exist today.  A basic google search will provide the answers for this.  You might consider creating 3×5 cards for the various characteristics for each ideology.  And create Venn diagrams on where they ideologies overlap.  Mapping the countries involved in World War II (maps for the area and time and study guides to go with the maps) and defining their ideologies as we map them.  Examine the efforts of Roosevelt and Churchill in Europe during World War II.

4.  Your children should have a basic understanding of what the end of World War I was and the Versailles Treaty.  Be sure they understand WWIthe economic, social, and political conditions in Germany from the end of WWI through 1933.  Again, a basic google search will provide these answers.  Here is a comparison chart for WWI and WWII

nazi5.  Discuss Hitler’s rise to power.  Do the same for Nazi power and the basic ideas of Nazi philosophy and their Nazi control over the German people.  Books to consider on this topic: Adolf Hitler: Wicked History, The Life and Death of Hitler, Adolf Hitler: Evil Mastermind of the Holocaust.  The Nazis, Why did the Rise of the Nazis Happen?

Apathy6.  Recognize and discuss the effects of apathy and indifference.  Discuss why Germans may have done nothing when confronted with behavior they knew was wrong. How is not acting making a choice?

propaganda7.  Discuss examples of how propaganda was used.  Discuss if propaganda is used in the United States.  Examples include television advertisers, government, foreign government, political parties, etc. How do you determine if it is propaganda?  How do you refute it? What is rumor? How does it start? Why is it believed? Why does this belief often persist? There are some great logic books that will teach how to identify fallacies.  Fallacy Detectives and The Art of Argument

8.  Finally, be sure to look for the heroes.  We always end such a horrific topic with something uplifting and encouraging.  Varian Fry, Raoul Wallenberg, Oskar Schindler, Rescue: The Story of how Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust, Rescuing the Children: The Kindertransport, Luba and hundreds more.

Disclosure

Some extensions we will be doing that go along with the Anne Frank Diary

 

We are using the Journal of Anne Frank as our immersion into the Holocaust.  So, below is how we will accomplish the objectives listed above using Anne Frank as our eyes and ears.

We are Messianic, so we keep the Biblical feasts and many of the rituals the Jewish people did already.  I think that helps us more fully grasp what the Jewish people experienced because we do some of the very things Anne Frank discusses in her diary.

As part of our History studies, we have become attuned at looking at the antisemitism aspect of the period throughout history.  We will be looking at the antisemitism this time from Anne Frank’s eyes and journal.  We will document what she saw and experienced.

Create a Timeline of Anne Frank’s Life on a poster board, under it create a timeline for The War and major political events, Inventions and discoveries happening at the same time, People, arts, theater, music, film, and sports items that were happening, our family history during that time.

Mapping Anne Frank family’s moves.

I hope this has been helpful for you to consider ways to teach this subject to your children.  These suggestions really apply to upper elementary, middle and high school students.  I would not necessarily do all of these suggestions, unless you are doing this as a complete unit study and have 4 – 6 weeks dedicated to the topic.

Until next time….

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Free Filibuster Lesson

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Current Events Study:  Senate Filibuster

 

 

 

(Note) If you have not introduced civics yet, you will need to cover a bit of background information to help your children grasp what a filibuster is.   A great site to use is:  http://bensguide.gpo.gov/3-5/index.html.  We love the Schoolhouse Rocks videos to help teach a concept.  Here is “I’m Just a Bill”:  

 

 

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2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum

 

We have homeschooled now for four years.  This is our 2012-2013 Homeschool Curriculum.  Prior to homeschooling, our boys attended a small local private Montessori school, where I was on the board for the school. Our boys have reached the point of thinking and working abstractly, so most of the Montessori materials are no longer used in our curriculum. So what do we now?  Come & see!!

I am very thankful that we stumbled blindly into a Montessori school! It has been a complete blessing to our family and continues to be … it is how we approach learning, education and life in general. So, although we have very traditional homeschool material now, our approach is still firmly grounded in the Montessori pedagogy.

 

#1 (oldest son) 7th Grade:

Exercises in English G
Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English G
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study GuideCat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action GVocabulary in Action G
 
Algebra: Video Text Algebra II (CLEP when complete!)VideoText Algebra
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Civics: God and Government Volume 1God and Government 1
Science: Apologia Physical ScienceApologia Physical Science
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name

 

 

 

(Middle Son) 6th Grade:

Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English FExercises in English F
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study Guide Cat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action EVocabulary in Action E
Creative Writing: IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
Algebra: Video Text Algebra I (CLEP when completes II!)VideoText Algebra
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Civics: God and Government Volume 1God and Government 1
Science: Apologia General ScienceGeneral Science
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name

 

 

#3 (Youngest Son) 3rd Grade

Grammar / English: Loyola Press Exercises in English DExercises in English D
Writing:IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
IEW Beutiful Feet Geography Literature
Literature: GA Henty Books (Cat of Bubastes) and Jim Hodges Study GuideCat of Bubastes
Spelling: All About Spelling 3-5All About Spelling 3
Vocabulary: Loyola Press Vocabulary in Action DVocabulary in Action D
Creative Writing: IEW / Beautiful Feet Geography Study
Teaching Textbooks Pre-AlgebraTeaching Textbooks Pre Algebra Montessori Measurement (EDUTC)Edutc Measurement    Montessori Area and Volume from Houston Montessori Center
World History / Geography: Mystery of History IIMOH 2
American History / Geography: Paths of Exploration /Trail Guide to LearningPOE TGTL
Science: Apologia Exploring Creation Zoology 3Exploring Creation Zoology 3
Logic: Fallacy DetectiveFallacy Detective
Foreign Language: Croghan Language Academy SpanishCroghan Language Academy
Economics: Starting a Micro Business for Teensmicrobus-workbk
Physical Education: Soccer, Karate
Scripture Studies: Torah, Writings, Prophets, NT
Electives: Art, PhotographyVirtual homeschool group name

 

Note:  Items above are linked to my Amazon affiliate account.  The very small amount of money that we make from our affiliation with Amazon is used to augment our curriculum needs.  Photos are shared from Amazon.

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