Hana's Suitcase

The Hana's Suitcase project conforms to the guidelines put forward by the Ministry of Education, Recreation and Sports, complying with the Citizenship and Community Life in the Broad Areas of Learning. This module reflects the aim of the Ministry of Education to ensure that "students take part in the democratic life of the classroom or the school and develop a spirit of openness to the world and respect for diversity".

Links to Academic Programs of Social Sciences  :

Objectives :

The complete activity may be borrowed for free from the Centre by completing the online pre-reservation form. The complete activity contains: 
  • The pedagogical guide with ten activities
  • One copy per student of the book Hana's Suitcase, by Karen Levine
  • A Brief History of the Holocaust:  A Reference Tool
  • Nine reproductions
  • A DVD
  • Hana's family photo album
OR téléchargez toute l'activité ou seulement quelques parties:
  1. Introduction: Reading Hana's Suitcase
  2. Lesson 1: Identifying with Hana
  3. Lesson 2: Identifying Antisemitism & Racism
  4. Lesson 3: Mapping Hana's Life
  5. Lesson 4: The Holocaust through Hana
  6. Lesson 5: Have we Learned from the Holocaust?
  7. Lesson 6: Racism in our Society
  8. Lesson 7: Celebrating Cultural Diversity
  9. Lesson 8: Finding the Positive Against all Odds
  10. Lesson 9: Making a Difference
  11. Lesson 10: Packing a new suitcase

Introduction: Reading Hana's Suitcase

Suggested time-frame: 30-45 minutes for the presentation and 2 weeks for reading the book.

1. Present the suitcase to the students.
2. Sample questions to engage students: What do you think this is? What do you think it contains? Can you read what is written on it? Points to mention when introducing the story:
3. Read the book aloud or guide students through silent reading in class or Have the students read the book as a homework assignment.

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Lesson 1 - Identifying with Hana 

Suggested time-frame: 1hour to 1½ hours.

1. Students individually fill in the diagram, writing aspects of their life that they feel define who they are (hobbies, place in family, nationality, gender, age, etc). They may add additional circles to the diagram if they wish.
2. Divide the class into groups of 4, inviting the groups to discuss their choices and discover which elements they share with one another.
3. Each group then fills in another sheet for Hana, choosing 6 elements that they feel most identify her.
4. In their groups, students create a master list or diagram in which they identify:
5. To create a sense of identification with Hana, begin a class discussion on the similarities between her life and theirs.

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Lesson 2 - Identifying Antisemitism & Racism

Suggested time-frame: A. 45 and B. 1 to 1½ hour.

 A. Defining the word Holocaust
1. Ask students what the Holocaust means. Write these ideas on a black
board. Ask students:
Are there any words you don't understand?
Do you feel that what happened to Hana is represented here?
2. Using the words on the blackboard, students create a diagram that they feel represents the relationship between these words. (See example of diagram in appendix A2).

B. Generating a class glossary of terms associated with the Holocaust
1. Divide the class into groups of 4-5 and hand each group a cutout with a term on it. Each group fills in the Student Glossary Worksheet found in appendix A2.
2. Sitting in a large circle, each group presents to the class what they came up with and why.
3. Now that the students have learned new vocabulary associated with the Holocaust, ask if they think there are other words that could be added to the original list (PART A) and why.

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Lesson 3 - Mapping Hana's Life

Suggested time-frame: 1½ to 2 hours.

1. Students in groups of 4-5 point out 6 major events which significantly impacted Hana's life.
2. Students link each event to a city or village on the map and write a short description of each. They can link more than one event to a location.
3. In front of the class, each group explains why these events were chosen and why they feel that Hana's life changed as a result.
4. Now that each group's results are shared, ask the class to enumerate 6 events that they perceive as having most impacted Hana's life.

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Lesson 4 - The Holocaust through Hana

  • Materials: 14 cutouts in an envelope, Key Dates for Lesson Teacher (appendix A2), computer access. 
Suggested time-frame: 2 to 2½ hours.

1. Divide the class into groups of 2 and hand each group a cutout.
2. Each group develops a Power- Point slide based on the topic they received. Students should situate their event in space and time. They can search for information online and/or in books (photos, maps, quotes, etc.)
3. Combine and present the Power Point slides in chronological order. Present the slide show with each group illustrating the impact of the event they have researched.

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Lesson 5 - Have we Learned from the Holocaust?

  • Materials: Guiding Questions (appendix B5). 
Suggested time-frame: Project can be spread over a couple of days.

1. Students, in teams of 2, choose a word related to racism, prejudice or discrimination. Alternately, you may choose to give them a cutout (appendix A2).
2. Each group creates a research project based on this word and relates it to today's world.
3. Research project should be 1-2 pages long (including maps, images, documents, etc.).
4. Each group presents its project to the class.

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Lesson 6 - Racism in our Society

  • Materials: Pencils, Sample of Discrimination/Prejudice Survey 
Suggested time-frame: 1 hour to create questions and a survey, 2 days to conduct the survey and 30 minutes for class discussion.

A. Conduct a survey
1. In groups of 2, either create or use the survey in the appendix. Questions should focus on racism and its consequences in today's society.
2. Students survey 10 people outside of the class (schoolmates, family, etc.)
3. Students either draw or use an Excel sheet to produce a chart or graph to illustrate their findings.

B. Group Discussion: Racism in Hana's Time and Racism Today
1. Sit in a circle with the whole class and have everyone share what they discovered from the surveys. Engage in a discussion about prejudice and racism in Hana's time and in our society today.

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Lesson 7 - Celebrating Cultural Diversity

  • Materials: Celebrating Diversity worksheet (appendix C7).
Suggested time-frame: Project can be spread over two weeks.

1. Divided in groups of 3, each group chooses a cultural community existing in Canada different from any of theirs.
2. Each group creates 2 pages of a magazine on the contribution (cultural or social) of this community in Canada. In a clear, original, and dynamic presentation, they should focus on a variety of topics such as: history of the culture's presence in Canada, religion, traditions, clothing, literature, schooling, food, music, etc. Their pages can include images, drawings, charts, maps, etc. Research can be done in a computer lab or library.
3. Combine all the pages and print a copy for the class. You can choose to give a copy to each class in the school.

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Lesson 8 - Finding the Positive Against all Odds

  • Materials: Suitcase and school bag cutouts (appendix C8), sticky tack to put up cutouts on wall or windows, promoting Respect Student Worksheet (appendix C8).
Suggested time-frame: 1 hour to 1¼ hours.

A. Suitcase and School Bag Cutouts
In groups of 3-5, each team generates a list of actions in Hana's Suitcase that they see as positive. They write one on a separate suitcase cutout. A minimum of 5-6 suitcase cutouts is projected.
2. Each team also generates a list of positive things that they can do today in order to make the world a better place. They write each action on a school bag cutout. A minimum of 5-6 school bag cutouts is projected.

B. Group Discussion

1. In a circle, have a class discussion on the large and small ways that people in Hana's Suitcase made a difference, despite all odds. Each student presents a suitcase cutout and explaining his/her choice.

2. Follow with a discussion on the way that people can make a difference in our society today. Each student presents a school bag cutout explaining his/her choice.

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Lesson 9 - Making a Difference

  • Materials: Making a Difference worksheet (appendix C9). 
Suggested time-frame: Project can be spread over one week.

1. Using the Making a Difference worksheet, students in groups of 2 or more think of ways they can make a difference at various levels (friend, family, community, city, nationally, internationally).
2. Selecting 1-2 areas to focus on, students create a project in order to explain, describe, or convince others about ways to make a difference.
3. Examples of projects include: a PowerPoint presentation; a storybook for younger children; a brochure; a TV ad; a workshop; acts of kindness; posters; visual arts; website etc.
4. Students share their projects with the class.

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Lesson 10 - Packing a new suitcase

  • Materials: All the notes and materials students used and created throughout the unit; Packing a new suitcase (appendix D10) Try to print on cardboard or paper ( if it can be laminated). 
Suggested time-frame: To be determined in class.

1. Ask students to imagine that they are packing a new suitcase to share with other schools. They should choose one project that they completed in this unit that is most significant to them.
2. Ask the students to describe, in writing, the project they've chosen and explain why it was important to them. In addition, you should guide them to answer the following questions:
Why is this project important today?
To whom and how will this project make a difference?
What have you learned from Hana's Suitcase? (3 main ideas)
During an exhibition either in class, in front of the school or parents, students present their project and discussing its importance to making a difference today.

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