Question Detail

How can I make teaching about the holocaust more interactive for 7th graders

Nov 17, 2015 6:08pm

  • Social Studies
  • Class Culture


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    • Nov 25, 2015 2:14am

      The United States Holocaust Memorial museum ( has an incredible database of ID cards, including those of children. There are maps, personal histories, a short biography, and information on how a person survived or died. Depending on the maturity level of your class, you could ask them to pick a person from the list, and at certain points in the unit, ask where their person was. You could create a pre-selected list of people of all ages, or just of children close to your students' ages. In addition to doing a short summary of their research, maybe you could include a reflective element to it as well. One of my history teachers made us do this with US Civil War diaries and letters and we then answered general and essential questions about their experiences. Answering those questions in a group setting afterward became interesting, because of saying "Private Smith," we found ourselves saying, "my solider." It made the whole unit more engaging because I kept thinking, "My soldier was injured here" or "he was so sick at the time." Tailoring this idea to make it age and maturity-level appropriate all depends on your classes, though.

      • Dec 6, 2015 6:29am

        Facing History has amazing online resources of survivor testimony and teacher workshops both in person and online

        • Nov 18, 2015 5:01pm

          You have probably thought of these ideas by now like inviting a speaker, museum visits, viewing documentaries such as Anne Frank's. And now, you can try to connect that with the experience of the people in Syria and get students to analyze their experience as mass atrocity.

          • Nov 18, 2015 6:44pm

            I love Michael's idea of linking current events to what occurred in Nazi Germany. For that specific age group, you may also want to also consider working on activities associated with The Book Thief.

            • Nov 19, 2015 8:15pm

              Lest we forget about the fact that it could've happened here in North America regarding the Japanese Americans when they were herded into our version of concentration camps. I would invite survivors of these concentration camps to talk about thei ordeal.

              • Dec 7, 2015 5:18am

                Have you tried the Anne Frank website. They have a great interactive activity where you can walk through the attic where the family hid. It's very powerful, as she was about the same age as your students.

                • Dec 26, 2015 7:59pm

                  All of the suggestions regarding available resources are fine, but the REAL question to ask yourself FIRST is what is it exactly that you want the kids to learn? Is it a bunch of facts regarding who, what, and where OR is it about HOW such a thing happened and WHY? By answering the HOW and WHY YOURSELF, you will be able to frame the facts in a way that is illuminating and relevant to every other genocide and holocaustal behavior on the globe. It seems to me that 7th graders are ready to take the deeper meanings of holocaustal behavior and look more analytically and wisely at our and other people's experiences in these our times.

                  • Feb 25, 2016 8:20am

                    Link it to other genocides & people - Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur, Pol Pot, etc. The difference, I believe, is that this was the first (& only?) time a people were systematically hunted down for capture and attack in other countries simultaneously as well, in a govt-organised and effected genocide of a whole people.

                    • Jan 3, 2016 5:29pm

                      Hi, I just finished teaching this as a theme for 10th-12th graders, so a bit higher than what you need. The St.Petersburg, Florida Holocaust Museum has a free trunk which they will send anywhere in the United States with level-appropriate books, curriculum, posters, and info materials:
                      I used the USHMM site as noted by another post and it offers wonderful video clips between 2 - 35 minutes long. I started with a) What do you know about the Holocaust? b) Let's meet a survivor or Let's learn about a brief History and then meet a survivor. This brings history into perspective of present day for them. Hope this helps :-)

                      • Jan 3, 2016 7:25pm

                        It's those human-interests stories that make the most impact.

                        • Feb 26, 2016 11:58pm

                          Facing History and Ourselves ( has lots of teaching strategies to make this subject interactive. They help students reflect on human behaviors issues such as what forms our identity and why people often divide themselves into "us and them". One activity in particular that is engaging and powerful is called the "Universe of Obligation" ( In this exercise, students will consider their own universes of obligation, as well as those of groups and nations to which they belong.