Terrible Things

6 Feb

My Year 7 students are studying The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.  In order to understand that text, they need to have an understanding of the Holocaust.

We began talking about the Holocaust today, and it was a really interesting discussion.  I have a few exceptionally knowledgeable kids in my class.  In fact, I was so impressed that I gave out my first merit token of the year!  I also have a number of kids who don’t know much about the Holocaust at all.

The differences in knowledge make it really difficult to craft activities that are interesting for all kids.  Accordingly, I have had to think outside the box.

In order to ensure that all kids come away with some basic information, we will look at a PowerPoint tomorrow.  While students listen and discussion, they will have to fill in a cloze passage.

Then, I want to read them Eve Bunting’s Terrible Things.  It is an allegory of the Holocaust and a picture book adaptation of Martin Niemoller’s ‘First they came…’ poem.

In Bunting’s adaptation, the little rabbit is analogous to the speaker in Niemoller’s poem.  The rabbit watches as “the Terrible Thing” comes to take away his friends.  Each time, the rabbit becomes alarmed.  Each time, the rabbit is told not to worry as the Terrible Thing is not coming after him.

The text is a great introduction to symbolism and the power of language; both of those are things students will come across in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

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