Lesson Plan For I Never Saw Another Butterfly:

A Holocaust Web Quest for Middle School Students

Linda Sheehe, Library Media Specialist, Hilliard Tharp Sixth Grade School

Subject Area: English/Language Arts

Grade Level(s): 6,7,8

Duration: 3 to 5 class periods

This web quest is designed to serve as an introduction to the Holocaust, or can be used to supplement other Holocaust units. Students will learn about the Terezin (Theresienstadt) Concentration Camp, through the eyes of the children imprisoned there. Using the Butterfly Journal and a variety of websites, students will read and respond to poetry and works of art created by the children of Terezin.

Enduring Understanding:
Students will understand that the Holocaust was one of the most tragic events in human history that resulted in the deaths of over 6 million Jews and other persons considered undesirable by Nazi Germany under the regime of Adolph Hitler.

Essential Questions:
What was the Holocaust?
Why did the Holocaust happen?
Could the Holocaust have been prevented?
Who were the victims of the Holocaust?
Could a Holocaust happen again? Why?

Ohio English Language Art Standards and Indicators

Reading Process:
Concepts of Print Comprehension Strategies and Self-Monitoring Strategies

Grade 6 Indicators: 1, 6, and 7

Grade 7 Indicators:  1, 6, and 7

Grade 8 Indicators: 2, 3, and 6

Reading applications; Informational, Technical and Persuasive Text

Grade 6 Indicators: 1, 3, 7 and 8

Grade 7 Indicators:  1, 3 and 7

Grade 8 Indicators: 3, 6, and 8

Writing Applications:

Grade 6 Indicators: 2 and 6

Grade 7 Indicators 2 and 6

Grade 8 Indicator: 6


Grade 6 Indicator: 4

Grade 7 Indicator: 4

Grade 8 Indicator: 2

Assessment and Performance Tasks:

Students working independently or with a partner, will access the "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" web quest to answer questions and complete writing activities in the Butterfly Journal.

Students' understanding will be assessed through completion of the journal itself, student writings, and through class discussions.

Materials/Technologies/Personnel Needed:

Sufficient computers with Internet access

Copies of the Butterfly Journal

Video projector or hook-up to a TV monitor (for providing demonstration of Web quest to students.)

Books: I Never Saw Another Butterfly; Children's Drawings and Poems From Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942 1944. edited by Hana Volavkova.

Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Media Specialist, Technology Specialist can help you plan student access to computers, suggest books and other materials, and assist you and your students in completing the web quest.

Learning Experiences/Instruction/Options for Differentiation:

Important!Before you begin, never assume that your students will have even heard of the Holocaust. Many children will find this new information to be disturbing, so provide them with chances to share feelings, and ask questions. Be honest, but don't stress images and descriptions of brutality and horror. The United States Holocaust Memorial website has excellent suggestions to help teachers prepare for teaching about this extremely difficult topic.  Visit their site at:  http://www1.ushmm.org:80/education/foreducators/guidelines/

To introduce the "I Never Saw Butterfly" Web Quest:

Read the poem "I Never Saw Another Butterfly" by Pavel Friedman. Explain how Pavel was a young Jewish boy who wrote this poem while living as a prisoner in a place called Terezin.  Use the Terezin PowerPoint slide show and teacher's notes to provide an introduction and background information about Terezin.

Give students a copy of the Butterfly Journal, and explain how they will use this journal to complete a web quest that will help them learn more about Terezin and the children, who, like Pavel Friedman, were held prisoners there. Post the above listed essential questions, and as the students complete their journals, and discuss what they are learning, relate discussions to those questions.

Depending on the ages and abilities of your students: You might choose to

  1. Have students work independently or in cooperative pairs.
  2. Demonstrate how the web quest works (using an on-line computer with video projector or linked to a TV monitor). You can also have the whole class go page by page through the Butterfly Journal with you, as you demonstrate the web quest and links, so that they will better understand the activities on each page, and which links/sources will help them find the information needed for each activity.
  3. Give students adequate time to complete the activities. Allow sufficient time for students for reaction, reflection, and discussion about what they are learning
  4. Post vocabulary words/names on the board or in the classroom that students might encounter in their learning: for example, Holocaust, genocide, ghetto, displaced, deportation, concentration camp, Gestapo, Nazis, Adolph Hitler, Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, Pavel Friedman, cantata, Terezin/Theresienstadt, Star of David. Students can use an on-line dictionary for definitions, such as the Fact Monster Dictionary. You might develop a vocabulary list, and use it for a quiz.
  5. After students have completed their Butterfly Journals, provide class time for students to share their written reflections with others. Students could read their entries aloud to the class, or allow students to read other students' journal entries. Students could also make copies and post journal entries on a class bulletin board as a way of sharing. The bulletin board could also be used to display student drawings, poems and letters that they wrote in reaction to reading and viewing the art and poetry of the children of Terezin.

After the students have finished all the activities in their Butterfly Journals, use the Butterfly Project activities 4 and 5 as detailed on the Holocaust Museum Houston: I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Teaching Activities, as a simple, yet powerful way for students to connect to the precious lives lost not only at Terezin, but in the Holocaust overall. Be sure to click on the objectives link on this website. Students will need to choose a person to whom they will dedicate their butterflies. Use the "Forget Me Not Cards" on the Children of the Holocaust - Biographies website.

Other activities & ideas:

This web quest can be used in conjunction with other teaching/learning activities about the Holocaust. For example, the web quest can be used as an extension of a classroom novel study of The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen.

Classes can view the video Journey of Butterfly, which is the performance of the cantata of Terezin children's poems, as performed by the American Boy Choir.

Links and Resources for Teachers:

Butterfly Journal pages

Background Information About Terezin (Theresienstadt)

Terezin Powerpoint

Teacher's Notes for Powerpoint

The Holocaust and Children's Literature (Recommended Books)

Holocaust Museum Houston:Teaching Activities

Children of the Holocaust: Biographies


Volavkava, Hana. I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children's Drawings and Poems from Terezin Concentration Camp 1942-1944. New York: Schocken Books, 1993.

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Fireflies in the Dark: the Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin. New York: Holiday House, 2000.


The Journey of Butterfly. 1996,  Bolthead Communications Group.