Teacher Sign Up
Sign In
Monday Morning Ready01.18.2019
Jumpstart Your Week!

Aaron Elster was 7 years old when the bombs came, thunderous airplanes whooshing over the Sokolow Ghetto in Poland. They brought destruction in their path. Three years later, he stood against a wall with his family. This included his parents, an older sister and his 6-year-old sister Sarah. They were waiting to be sent to nearby Treblinka, one of the Holocaust’s extermination camps, as the German army came to liquidate the ghetto.... < read more >
Grade 3-4

In the article, Holocaust survivor Aaron Elster says, "It just takes a little bit of goodness from each person to help change the world for the better." What little bit of goodness can you give? How do you think it can help change the world for the better?

Grade 5-6

Think about a time when you saw someone treating another person badly. What did you do to help? Do you think you could have done more? If so, what? Explain your answers.

Grade 7-8

Many museums have exhibits with photographs, artifacts and even movies that tell about different subjects. Why do you think the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center decided to use holograms? Do you think it was a good decision? Why or why not?

Grade 9-10

The Holocaust is one example in history where people have banded together to do horrible things to each other. What do you think causes people to act like this? Why do you think people have to be reminded of what happened? And how do you think people can work together, despite their differences, to make the world a better place?

Create a Holocaust Museum Exhibit


  1. Prior to conducting this activity, review the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website. Select resources, including lesson plans and online exhibits, to use as you teach students about the Holocaust and how to remember its survivors and victims. If you teach older students, also utilize the museum's features about confronting the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism.
  2. Have students discuss the types of exhibits usually seen in a museum. (i.e., historic objects, scientific specimens, living organisms, paintings, photographs, documents, soundtracks, etc.) Point out that exhibits can take up entire rooms or be so small that several objects fit in a glass-fronted case. And many museums, like the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, have digital displays and interactive elements that heighten the visitor's experience.
  3. Outline the process for creating a museum exhibit. If you wish, use the Smithsonian lesson "History Close to Home: Creating Your Own Special Museum" as a guide.
  4. Based on what they have learned, inform students that they will create a museum exhibit that teaches about the Holocaust, honors its survivors and victims or (older students only) confronts the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism. Encourage students to conduct further research and incorporate additional information they learn about their chosen topic.
  5. Provide art supplies, poster board, small boxes and access to a digital design program. Based on what they've learned, instruct students to select the type of exhibit best suited to their topic. Give them time to create a poster, diorama or digital display.


Invite students to present their finished exhibits to the class. Encourage them to identify key components of their exhibits and explain how they hope their exhibits inspire people to think differently about their chosen topic.


Grades 3-4:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then have students complete the project in small groups. Give groups time to create a poster or diorama. Encourage them to brainstorm ideas for digital components that could also be featured in their exhibits. Once all groups have presented, have the class brainstorm ideas about how all of the exhibits could be combined to create a new Holocaust museum.
Grades 5-6:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then have students complete the project in small groups. Challenge groups to think of a new and innovative way to create a museum exhibit about the Holocaust or its survivors and victims. Encourage them to identify specific items they would include in this exhibit. Then have groups create a poster or diorama featuring their exhibit and write a detailed outline explaining how they could incorporate one digital component into the exhibit to enhance the visitor's experience. Once all groups have presented, have the class brainstorm ideas about how all of the exhibits could be combined to create a new Holocaust museum.
Grades 7-8:
As a class, learn about the Holocaust and its survivors and victims. Then divide the class into two groups. Instruct one group to conduct research to learn more about the Holocaust and the other group to investigate Holocaust survivors and victims. Challenge each group to brainstorm ideas about how they could create a multi-faceted museum exhibition that both educates and inspires museum visitors to make a positive change. Give groups time to create diorama or digital display for each part of their exhibition.
Grades 9-10:
Study the Holocaust as a class. Then divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one topic: the Holocaust; Holocaust survivors and victims; or the ongoing battle against genocide and anti-Semitism. Encourage groups to conduct additional research to learn more about their topics. Then have the class rejoin. Challenge students to brainstorm ideas for how they could combine what they learned to create a comprehensive museum exhibition that educates people about the past, informs them about current conditions, and inspires them to make a change. Once the class develops a plan, give each group time to complete its part of the classroom exhibition.
Camilla’s Purse
Holocaust survivor Camilla Gottlieb’s ordinary life in Vienna was upended by World War II into crisis, imprisonment and ultimately a new life in the United States. Her purse, discovered by her family after her death in 1964, contained letters and papers that trace her trials and triumphs. Explore this exhibit from the National Museum of American History to learn what those artifacts reveal about her journey.

In this Smithsonian Learning Lab collection, students read a series of primary sources from the survivors or witnesses of the Holocaust during World War II. Then they look at various memorials that were created to remember the Holocaust and decide which is the most applicable to their person. Students use evidence from the primary source and the memorial to explain their conclusions.

Holocaust and Nazi Propaganda
Encourage students to explore this Smithsonian Learning Lab collection to view posters of Nazi propaganda a from the 1920’s through the 1940’s.

Auschwitz Survivors Tell Their Stories
From the moment they arrived at the concentration camp, Jews and other Holocaust victims were treated like animals. Only a lucky group survived the experience. Watch this Smithsonian magazine video to learn about the experience in their own words.

Document Deep Dive: A. Holocaust Survivor Finds Hope in America
Michael Pupa’s story, from orphan of Nazi Europe to American citizen, is a testament to the freedoms America offers. To learn how, read this Smithsonian magazine article.

Treblinka: Hitler’s Killing Machine
Forensic archaeologist Caroline Sturdy Colls has been given unprecedented access to excavate one of history’s greatest crime scenes: Hitler’s secret extermination camp in the Polish village of Treblinka. Watch this Smithsonian Channel video to see what she discovered.

Songs of the Ghetto
During World War II, the term “ghetto” took on new meaning as a place where Jews in Nazi-controlled Europe were required to live, usually later to be transported to concentration camps. Ghetto residents often turned to music to express their sorrow, ease their burden and seek courage. Listen to this collection from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings to hear a collection of those songs.

The Unforgotten: New Voices of the Holocaust
Two newly translated diaries by young women murdered in the Holocaust cry out to us about the evils of the past and the dangers of the present. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn more.