|Number the Stars
Theme: Resistance to Injustice
Grades: Grades 6-7
It is 1943. Three years of Nazi occupation have brought changes to Copenhagen,
the home of 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen and her best friend, Ellen
Rosen. There are soldiers in the streets, a curfew, and supply shortages.
When word comes that Denmark's Jews are to be "relocated," the Johansens
hide Ellen and take her by train to Uncle Henrik's coastal farm. From
there the Rosens and other Jewish Danes are smuggled aboard fishing
boats that will carry them to safety in neutral Sweden. Annemarie learns
just how brave and strong she can be, when she must carry a mysterious
packet through the Nazi-patrolled night woods to her uncle's ship. An
Afterword explains how Number the Stars, while fiction, was drawn
from true accounts of the Danish Resistance, which succeeded in saving
the lives of almost all of Denmark's nearly 8,000 Jews.
- Introducing Vocabulary.
Write occupation and resistance side by side on the
chalkboard, overhead, or chart paper. Students may know the common
use of the word occupation; tell them the word has a different
meaning in Number the Stars. Guide students in identifying
the roots occupy and resist. Using the roots and a dictionary
if necessary, have students establish the military definitions of
occupation and resistance. Then scatter these words
on the board: surrender, sabotage, persecution, swastika, relocation,
rationing, curfew. Have students work in small groups to define
these words and relate them to occupation and resistance.
- Tapping Prior Knowledge: Quickwrite.
Have students write about an incidentfrom their own experience
or from their readingin which someone took a stand against injustice
(unfairness). Tell them to describe what happened and explain how
the incident made them feel. Invite students to share their responses.
As students read Number the Stars, encourage them to make connections
between their experiences and events in the novel.
A Journalist is Born.
Ask students to interview a grandparent or another person who lived
through World War II about his or her memories. Guide them to plan
their questions and record the person's answers in the form of a
printed interview. Let students know that you (or a librarian) can
help them find interviews in magazines or other publications to
use as models.
- In Memory.
Have students make scrapbooks honoring the characters Lise or Peter,
who die for Denmark's Resistance Movement. They can create pictures,
captions, newspaper clippings, and so on, covering significant moments
mentioned in the novel.
- Resistance across Europe.
In this project, students will research resistance efforts in countries
occupied by the Nazis before and during World War II.
- Help students brainstorm a list of places where they might find
information about resistance efforts. For example, they might check
encyclopedia entries on World War II, the Holocaust, or various countries
occupied by Germany. They might look up books or computer resources
on resistance organizations, and follow up with biographical material
- Let students explore available resources to identify possible research
topics. If needed, make suggestions, for example, Le Chambon, France;
or Oskar Schindler. There were resistance movements in every Nazi-controlled
country, including Germany and Italy, and in some ghettos and camps,
such as the Warsaw Ghetto.
- Have students work alone or in small groups to choose a resistance
movement or hero to research. Guide the selection to cover a variety
of people and places. Help students establish criteria for written
reports. Encourage them to include visuals, such as drawings of people
- Fact or Fiction.
Have students find and read a factual account about Denmark at the
time of the German occupation, using an encyclopedia, a history book,
the Internet, or the library. Ask students to write an essay comparing
the factual account to Number the Stars. Ask them to discuss
the advantages and disadvantages of each type of writing.