Presenting the subject of the Holocaust to young students in elementary school is not simple. The emotionally heavy aspects to this historical period are difficult to grasp. Through the book I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly, Yad Vashem tries to discuss the subject of the Holocaust with students in a way that enables them to take in the story while becoming familiar with basic concepts relating to the Holocaust.
The book I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly presents readers with the story of Hannah Gofrit. Naomi Morgenstern, the author of the book, has reworked the testimony of Hannah Gofrit in accordance with Yad Vashem’s educational approach, so as to make her story accessible to third and fourth grade students.
This lesson plan offers the teacher two sections:
- The thinking behind the story, and its points of contact with Yad Vashem's educational approach.
- A framework for class work with the book: three units of guided reading and a summary unit inviting students to carry out creative work after the experience of reading the book.
Each teacher knows his or her own students, their emotional and cognitive capacity, their knowledge and academic standard. Therefore we recommend that teachers use the tools that we offer and adapt them to suit their own classroom.
Target group: Third and Fourth Grade Students
Method: Reading the Book, Class Discussion, Summarizing Creative Work
Duration: The unit is suitable for four 45-minute lessons. We recommend holding the lessons on three different days, and teaching units 3 and 4 consecutively.
Approaching the Book: I Wanted to Fly Like a Butterfly
- The book deals with the personal and family story of Hannah Gofrit. Through the family story, we also learn about the wider story of the Holocaust, in a manner suited to the age of the students.
- Through the book, students are introduced to concepts such as the yellow star, the ghetto, the hiding place, Righteous Gentiles, deportation, and uprising. These concepts will be explained in greater depth, when they are taught in history lessons in high school. At this stage, our purpose is not to teach the history of the Holocaust but to familiarize students with the basic concepts appearing in the story.
- The book tells the story of Hannah's life. It is not necessary to teach the entire book, as there are units within the book that may be removed without effecting the narrative. We suggest that teachers choose carefully which sections to teach, based on their familiarity with their students.
- Throughout the entire story, the young reader is accompanied by the figure of Hannah the adult. In this way, readers are not left alone as they discover the dreadful story.
- The book tells the story of Hannah before, during, and after the Holocaust. The story starts before the Holocaust because Yad Vashem believes that in order to understand what was lost in the Holocaust, we must be familiar with Jewish life before the war.