As I was preparing this, I had a vague memory of several museums collecting butterflies for a Holocaust memorial project. I did a quick google search and discovered the Houston Holocaust Museum is collecting butterflies until June 30 THIS YEAR for their display.
They had a few rules: no glitter and no food, and preferably flat. I can follow those rules, they were ones I’d do on my own anyways.
Then I started reading excerpts from the book, poems and memories of the kids living there. And I started crying, it’s hard to read these knowing what happened to so many of these kids.
We looked at the pictures the children drew. It amazes me that in some small way these pictures are a pre-cursor to some of our modern counseling techniques for children. Now we have kids draw and write out what they’re feeling.
After reading the book for a while and looking at the pictures. We discussed how we thought the kids felt form the pictures they drew, what they were thinking. How did we feel looking at these pictures. I look at the one above, and it’s so sad and depressing. But many of them had hope, look at the top picture. There are flowers, and its two sisters laying down in a bed together, or maybe it was a blanket. They’re happy, look at the difference between these two pictures. Sometimes we’d talk about the ages of the kids involved, not often because that was very hard to discuss.
Finally I introduced the Butterflies to Remember project. The kids were all very excited about it. I talked about how sometimes the kids in the ghetto (it was labeled a concentration camp later, but at the start it was where Hitler sent the world to see his “humane” treatment of the Jewish problem) used whatever they had to make these pictures, so some of the materials supplied were recycling paper.
Than I set them loose with markers, pencils, crayons, colored paper, glue, and scissors.
And they created.
And created for almost an hour. They all put a lot of time and effort into this knowing it was to remember kids who didn’t have a happy life, and to remember how the world turned a blind eye. We created our butterflies to remember how a few people stood up and said it was wrong.
We created our butterflies to remember the pain the kids went through. We created our butterflies to remind us of the hope of rebirth.
But most of all we created our butteflies to remember because sometimes in response to great tragedy you need to create something beautiful and something good to remember there is good and beauty in the world.
I’ve got the butterflies sitting next to me all ready to be mailed. It was a hard lesson, with a lot of questions, but it was a good lesson. Sometimes we need this small reminder.
For more US history ideas check out my pinterest board:
maryanne @ mama smiles says
I love that you used the holocaust children’s art to introduce this subject to your kids.
It worked really surprisingly well, it was a very somber day in coop.
Phyllis at All Things Beautiful says
Oh, this is wonderful!!
Such a lovely activity to do. Keep them coming Ticia. Between you and Phyllis I’ll have no school planning to do for Modern History!
Stef Layton says
what a great idea. Thanks for sharing!
Wow, this is a powerful ending to the holocaust lesson. Your butterflies look beautiful!
Lindsay @ Bytes of Memory says
whew tough topic but you did an amazing job teaching it to your kids!
Magic and Mayhem says
Such a sad topic, and so important. My oldest has been studying the ghettos on her own this year. Thanks for letting us know about the Butterfly Project. I know all of my kids would love the idea of participating but it says they’ve reached their goal. Perhaps we’ll do a small scale one in some way. I’d love to see the finished display in Houston but I’m sure it would be unbearable too.
I hate how some (Christian) people try to downplay the Holocaust, to try to shelter their kids. When I saw this on Pinterest, I was immediately interested. IMHO, you presented the topic (and craft) in an informative and appropriate way. Great post and thank you for keeping the memory alive.
Thank you 🙂 At first when I started to read your comment, I was thinking, “Oh no another hate comment about WW2,” but once I read the whole thing I got what you were trying to say.
I agree it is a very important topic, and it’s one I really wanted my kids to understand. In college one of my classes was on the Holocaust and the big thing I got from that class: We claim to of not forgotten and that we won’t let it happen again, but it still happens every day around the world. At the time I took the class, mid 90s, there were 3 different governments attempting to wipe out cultures and people groups. It still happens today, but we don’t want to hear about it, I want my kids to see how easily it can happen, so they can stand up and say “No, I won’t let this happen again.”
Samantha Shank says
Amen!! I completely agree with you 100%!! One of my favorite quotes is “The only thing needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing.” If Christians don’t want to hear it and speak up, who will?