The Butterfly Project Lesson Plan December 08 2010

When you first hear "The Butterfly Project," you might think of a science experiment involving life cycles of butterflies or another related lesson plan.

This Butterfly Project Lesson Plan, however, is a bit deeper than that. The Holocaust Museum in Houston, Texas is currently putting together an exhibit that honors the 1.5 million children who lost their lives during the Holocaust.

The Background

The Butterfly Project is based on the book ...I Never Saw Another Butterfly, a collection of poetry and artwork by children who were interred at the Terezin Concentration Camp from 1942-1944.

In order to honor these and the other 1.5 million children who perished during the Holocaust, the Holocaust Museum in Houston is collecting 1.5 million hand-made butterflies. These will be displayed in a special exhibition in the spring of 2013.

Right now, the museum has only 600,000 butterflies. You can help them reach their goal!

The Butterfly Lesson Plan

I saw this lesson plan carried out in a sixth grade classroom with students who were studying the many facets of World War II. Upon reflection, this lesson plan could be adjusted based on the age and skill level of your kids, using one or two poems in your class instead of one per person.The lesson plan is written out in full at the website, but this is what I saw in this classroom.

To build prior knowledge, Mrs. K had read two books regarding Terezin Concentration Camp and Friedl Dicker-Brandeis - Fireflies in the Dark and The Cat With the Yellow Star. Both are by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Together with her students, Mrs. K read and discussed the poem on P. 39 of the book with her students, along with the Epilogue that explains what the book is about. After the discussion, each student received a copy of one of the poems from the book. They spent a couple of days in mini-lessons with these poems that included word choice, imagery and inferential meaning.

Mrs. K then assigned her sixth graders to prepare an oral reading of their poems for later in the week. In the meantime, each student created a butterfly for The Butterfly Project to go along with their specific poems. The butterflies were hung around the room as students finished creating them.

The Butterfly Exhibition

The classroom butterfly exhibition didn't last long. Later in the week, each student in Mrs. K's class read their poems for the class and explained the design of their butterflies. After each reading, Mrs. K turned to page 96 of the book, which detailed the fate of the author of each poem. If the child had died, the student had to cut his/her butterfly down from where it hung. At the end of the poetry readings, the devastation to the children of the Holocaust was clear.

There are easy-to-follow and very specific requirements for the butterflies submitted for this project. Read the directions carefully before carrying out the lesson plan with your students. Two of the bullet points that stood out to me indicated that the butterflies should be no larger than eight inches by ten inches and that no glitter products should be used on the butterflies whatsoever.

The deadline for the butterflies to be turned in is June 30, 2012. You can find more information and details about The Butterfly Project here.