In this challenging time, many parents and guardians are looking online for meaningful activities for their children that don’t require too much prep or too many materials. Throughout this time, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will post learning activities geared to a range of ages that guide children how to explore heritage, history, and learning through artifacts.

This activity builds on the skills of making observations and using the observations to draw inferences. Our educational approach is grounded in the idea that every object tells a story, and we encourage students to observe and infer to try to determine what story each object is telling.

Hand crafted miniature chicken made by Jewish refugees
Gift of Pauline M. Shook in memory of Vernon P. Shook

Click here for a larger view of the artifact.

Have your student first list objective observations (what they can see, without making any guesses or inferences). Encourage them to deepen their observations and include things they may not have noticed upon first viewing the artifact.

Next, ask students to make inferences: what do you think this object was? Who might it have belonged to? What story is it telling?

This chicken, made by Jewish refugees in a displaced persons (DP) camp in Milan, Italy, was given as a gift to Vernon P. Shook, Director of the Welfare Program for the Italian Mission of the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA).

UNRRA administered DP camps which sheltered thousands of refugees after World War II, providing them with food, clothing, and shelter. Handicrafts like these were sold by the people in DP camps in an effort to earn extra money. This chicken was given to Shook as a present for his daughter, Mary Susan.

Ask your student: why do you think the people living in the camp wanted to make a gift for Mr. Shook? How does it feel to give someone a gift?

Art activity: Draw or use materials you have at home to create your own animal.

We encourage you to share a photo of your student’s work with us! Please email so that we may feature it on our Museum blog.