How to Teach the Holocaust to Middle School Students

One of the first heavy topics that many students learn about in school is the Holocaust, and teachers often struggle with how to approach this complex and serious part of recent history with their young students. If you’re preparing to take your class on this emotional learning journey, consider these three tips.

Provide Historical Context

One of the most important aspects of teaching the Holocaust to middleschoolers is the historical context that led up to it. Lesson plans should begin with an understanding of the political and cultural environment in Europe during that time. Your lesson plan should not only address the events that happened but also the thought process and manipulation that made it possible for it to happen.

Focus on Stories and Experiences

When learning about a tragedy like the Holocaust, personal stories stick with students much longer than facts and figures. Base your curriculum around the stories of survivors, helpers and others who experienced it firsthand. Students relate best to those around their own age, so remember to include stories of young people.

Allow for Questions and Discussion

When teaching the Holocaust to middleschoolers, expect them to have many questions and opinions. Try to provide answers to the best of your ability and allow for guided discussion so that students can express their feelings. Emphasize the seriousness of the subject when conversation strays too far-off topic.

Are you looking for accessible and factual Holocaust education resources? ZACHOR Holocaust Curriculum, based on the first-hand experiences of Holocaust survivor Ben Lesser, offers free resources and interactive teaching tools. Visit to learn more.

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