This lesson tells the story of Miep Gies, the remarkable woman who hid the family of Anne Frank. Students have the opportunity to take part in a role play of Miep’s life, and then create a jigsaw puzzle depicting her story.
This puzzle can be used in the No Man is an Island lesson, giving students the opportunity to revise and consolidate their learning.
The creation of the puzzle is an opportunity to build bridges between students, or even guests from other communities. The conclusion of the lesson asks students to think about making good choices when bad things happen, just like Miep did.
Aimed at Secondary students (but can be used in Primary setting, if appropriate for your students).
Target Audience: Students achieving at P levels 1-8
Approximate duration: Learning activity – 50mins (but flexible)
- An empty bowl
- A table and chair
- An area of the classroom available for 'hiding' in
- Shopping bags
- Note book and pen
- Miep bridge jigsaw pieces
- Blank jigsaw pieces
You may also need
A bell, or minor note from a glockenspiel, as used in the No Man is an Island lesson.
This lesson starts with a circle time, a short movement activity is provided to give students a chance to be active prior to the focus activity. The session concludes with a circle time.
P1-3 To experience the story of Miep, and building a bridge alongside someone else.
P4-6 To take part in the telling of Miep's story, and to say/sign or use symbol expression to say single words about the bridge as it is built.
P7-8 To participate in telling Miep's story, identifying key aspects, eg good or bad things happening, or reasons for the people in the story to be happy or sad. To help build the bridge and talk about the images as they work with them.
If you are doing this lesson alongside others from this year's HMD resources you might want to use the solitary tolling of a bell as the lesson cue as in the No Man is an Island lesson.
‘Today is Holocaust Memorial Day. For 2013, the theme is Communities Together: Build a Bridge and we are going to build a bridge today. Bridges connect people and places. Our bridge is going to connect us to the past, to events that happened during the Holocaust.’
If you are going to be able to join up with other communities for HMD you can talk about the bridges that sharing this work will help to build. ‘Our bridge is made out of a story: a true story.’ Share individual objectives.
Circle activity (Assembly performance)
Ask students to help you tell the story by acting it out. This role-play can be used as a performance piece in your HMD assembly.
If you have a class with a variety of abilities you might want to choose students to add insight to the telling of the story by identifying the good and bad things that happened, or identifying the emotions of the characters.
Use thumbs up, thumbs down for good and bad, or symbols and signs. Use facial expressions for emotions, or select from a set of symbols.
Optional: add an extra dimension to the telling of the story by having happy or sad music, or sounds to play. The student in charge of saying whether an event is good or bad could pick the sound that is played during that scene.
’When Miep was a little girl she was hungry.’
Show jigsaw picture of Miep as a little girl.
Have a student hold the empty bowl. The whole class or chosen pupils can do thumbs up/down to say whether this is a good or bad thing. Decide as a class what facial expression the student playing the part of Miep should have, or choose individuals to act as prompts. Prompts would demonstrate the emotional expression required for the scene.
‘Miep's family had no food so they sent her to a new family who did have food.’
Show picture of Miep as a girl.
Student playing Miep can pretend they have food (or you can give them food). The class or individual prompts can give a verdict on whether it is a good or a bad event, and on how Miep would feel.
‘Miep grew up and got a job working for Otto.’
Show jigsaw picture of Miep at work.
Student playing Miep can sit at desk and chair and pretend to work. You can invite another student to play Otto (The first job Otto actually asked Miep to perform was to make jam, but you might want to mime a job more typical of somebody who works in an office)
‘The Nazis wanted to hurt Otto's family, so Miep helped them to hide.’
Show jigsaw picture of secret doorway.
Student playing Miep can show other students playing the parts of Otto, Edith, Margot and Anne to the place in the classroom representing the secret hideaway.
Again students can report on good/bad and emotions. It will be interesting to consider the varying emotions of the different people involved in this scene.
‘Miep brought the family food whilst they were hiding.’
Show jigsaw picture of Miep carrying shopping.
Student playing Miep can mime going shopping. Pause this scene at various points to do good/bad and monitor the changing emotions. Does Miep feel worried when she is shopping or happy? Encourage students to remember Miep's early childhood: she knew what it was like to be hungry, she remembered that bad thing, and she wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. This is quite a complex task to ask of students but it is key to the message of HMD - by remembering bad things we can stop them happening again.
‘Whilst she was in hiding Otto's daughter Anne wrote a diary about what was happening.’
Show jigsaw picture of the open diary.
Explain to students what a diary is. Get them to show if this is good or bad and what emotions it represents. Student playing Anne can write in the notebook to illustrate diary writing.
‘One day when Miep was working she looked up to find a gun pointing at her! Otto and his family were taken away by the Nazis.’
Show jigsaw picture of the pointing gun.
Students can act this scene at a level appropriate to them: you can choose whether to use a toy gun, or fingers held in a gun shape, or to focus on a different aspect.
‘Miep collected all the money she could and tried to pay the Nazis to let Otto's family go, but they said 'No'.’
Show jigsaw picture of the money.
Student playing Miep can gather money. Place the money in different locations in the class, or have students in the 'audience' give it to Miep as she begs for it. Get them to show if this is good or bad and what emotions it represents.
If you have higher ability students you may want to talk about the reasons that Miep herself was not taken prisoner at this point. Look at the Miep Case study for more information on Miep’s story. The arresting officer recognised Miep as being from his hometown and his community, and so let her go free.
’Miep saved Anne's diary. Sadly, only Otto survived. When he came back Miep gave him Anne's diary.’
Show jigsaw picture of Otto.
Students act this scene. Get them to show if this is good or bad and what emotions it represents.
‘Anne's diary was published as a book. Reading it helps people remember the bad things that happened so they can stop them happening again and try to be good like Miep.’
Show jigsaw picture of Diary. If you have a copy of Anne Frank's diary show the real book.
Give students an image from the story each, or in pairs. Work together to stand in sequential order.
Work with someone you are not used to working with. You might be able to invite another class to join you, or invite people in from the community to join in with this lesson.
Give each individual, pair or small group a piece of the Miep jigsaw puzzle. Students can colour or paint their piece. Stick the paper onto cardboard, or just cut it out as paper. Add to this activity by asking students to record a word or sentence on their jigsaw piece relating to that section of the story. Students, for example could draw the family walking into the hiding place, or the arresting officer, or Anne writing her diary.
Build your class bridge using the pieces the students have been working on in their groups. Retell the Miep story. Recalling bad things can help us stop them from happening again, you may be able to provide your students with examples from their own lives, eg you remembered that the floor was slippery at the swimming pool and you hurt yourself, which was bad. You stopped that bad thing from happening again by telling your friends that the floor was slippery. The bad thing in Miep’s time was that some people who were different to each other didn't want to be friends with those who were different. Today we are friends with different people. We have built a bridge between us and the past and us and each other.
End by sharing with students what Miep said when she was asked why she risked her life to help the Franks:
‘My decision to help Otto was because I saw no alternative. I could foresee many sleepless nights and an unhappy life if I refused. And that was not the kind of failure I wanted for myself. Permanent remorse about failing to do your human duty, in my opinion can be worse than losing your life.’
Reiterate Miep’s point in language your students will find easier to grasp: Miep said if she didn’t do the right thing she would have felt bad.
We must do the right thing always, for the good of others and ourselves.
If you print the blank jigsaw onto A3 paper it will make a great foundation for a display. Stick the bridge in the centre of a display board, and add photos of the students working, notes about what you did and any additional work students have done.
Notes for assembly
You may want to show the jigsaw or the whole role play in assembly. You can share what you have learned about building bridges between different people and remembering bad things to stop them happening again.
Notes for making links
If you are going to do the No Man is an Island lesson use this jigsaw as part of that lesson.