Lesson Plan

Life in the Ghettos

Students will learn about life in the ghettos, including what it meant to be a young child in one.

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The Holocaust

Enduring Understanding

Everyone, including children, tried to maintain aspects of normal life despite the tragic conditions in the ghettos.

Essential Question

  • 1What were the physical and emotional challenges living in the ghettos?


10 Min

Begin by asking students what they know about ghettos. Ensure students know the basics, that ghettos were typically closed off parts of a city where Jews were forced to live.

Ask if they can list off any health or emotional challenges that could be faced by living in one.


25 Min

Read through the resource, Life in the Ghettos by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum as a class. Scroll through the images and videos in the left hand corner to show the class. Find the video titled, “Gerda Weissmann Klein describes her birthday celebration in the Bielsko ghetto” and watch that as a class.

Ask the students how their initial list matches up to the reality of what they learned from life in the ghettos.

Have the students list some examples of how people tried to maintain “normal” life in the ghettos.

Tell the students they will now have the chance to go back into the reading and write down a few notes using the 3Ps method- writing down something they find a) Powerful b) Puzzling and c) Propelling.

In order to familiarize yourself, and your class with this model, please look over this guide: 3Ps: A Critical Reading Guide.


15 Min

Allow the students to pair up in groups of two or three to go over what they wrote down for their 3Ps. As they do so, provide them with the following instructions:

Go over your notes from the reading, try to answer one another’s puzzling sections.

Then discuss the following questions:

  1. What were the Nazis’ intentions in closing Jews in the ghettos?
  2. The Germans wanted to concentrate Jews into the larger cities and establish ghettos near railroad junctions. What do you think was the purpose of gathering the Jews in certain central locations? Why did the Germans want to establish ghettos near railway transports?

If time permits, come back together as a class to share what was discussed. Make sure to let students know that if they are unable to find clarity for something in the ‘puzzling’ notes to bring it up to you to be discussed.

Wisconsin Academic Standards

This lessons meets the following Academic Standards required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Teacher Primer

Know Before You Go

Before you teach, use our teacher primer to freshen up on your content knowledge.