The lessons from Esther’s art and story are immediate and understandable, nurturing empathy and courage, while her art brings the Holocaust to life in a markedly different way than the black-and-white photos more typical of the period. Drawing from Esther’s art and story, free educational materials offer students a way to comprehend the perseverance of a young girl within the context of historical events, using the Holocaust as the primary content. They are designed for grades 5 – 12. The lessons build essential skills for critical thinking, understanding primary resources, contextualizing current events, appreciating the importance of storytelling, and engaging young people in active participation in their community.
Two types of lessons are provided, along with fillable PDF graphic organizers and reference documents:
Fully standards-aligned traditional lesson plans (PDFs)
Online, interactive, multi-media Sutoris
The lessons address five core themes:
Social Studies and History
English Language Arts
Art Appreciation and Art Integration
Social Justice and Civic Engagement
See FAQ for descriptions and the Guide to Using Lesson Plans
For inspiration, please view students' works from previous programs
Children Escaping War and Conflict
Students learn to analyze basic human needs, draw similarities between survival stories, and apply their learning to current and contemporary events.
Social Justice and Human Rights
Teach about the underlying principles of freedom, equality, fairness and justice
Esther in Her Own Words and Images: Artwork and Testimony as a Primary Source
Teach how to use first person accounts, primary and secondary sources and artifacts while following Esther’s journey and exploring the Holocaust.
World War II in Poland
Enrich student learning about the history of Poland and Jews in Poland before, during and after World War II through the use of timelines.
Upstanders, Bystanders, and Victims
By analyzing the artwork of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz as a primary source, students will learn about World War II and address the moral dimensions of the Holocaust and bullying.
A four-part lesson with extensions teaching how to use evidence-based argument to answer the question: “What makes an unsung hero?”
How story cloths present first person accounts, preserve culture and traditions, and speak up for social justice.
Jewish Concepts and Values
This lesson will address three Jewish concepts:
Welcoming the Stranger
Peace in the House
Jewish holidays and traditions
Symbolism, Dreams, and Metaphors
Additional Teaching Resources
Guide to the Film Through the Eye of the Needle: The Art of Esther Nisenthal Krinitz
The questions and activities in the guide use the art and story of Esther Krinitz Nisenthal as a springboard to learn more about the Holocaust and World War II and to convey the importance of telling one’s own story.
Worksheets for Students
The Graphic Organizers/Worksheets below can all be found here. They are fillable PDFs on which the students can do their assignments and, when completed, print out or submit digitally.
View or Print these resources:
“Meet Esther” Close Read document
I have never really used art to teach the Holocaust. This will really help me connect the content to my students more effectively.
Educator at Echoes Workshop, Jewish Museum of Maryland