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. Each weekday on this blog, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will post an activity geared to a range of ages that guide children how to explore heritage, history, and learning through artifacts.

Note to parents/guardians: This activity refers to the Holocaust but does not go into detail about it. Please use your judgment to decide if this activity is right for your student.

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. If your student has read Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, this artifact connects directly to that book.

Use the links to view the artifact: Gerda III and blueprint of the Gerda III

Have your student list objective observations (what they can see, without making any guesses or inferences). Encourage them to deepen their observations and record 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?

After discussing their inferences, asking for them to support their answers with evidence from their observations and prior knowledge, discuss the story behind this artifact.

The Gerda III was built in 1926 as a lighthouse tender (a boat primarily used to transport goods or people to or from a larger ship or the shore). In October 1943, the boat was used by Henny Sinding, the 22-year-old daughter of the boat’s manager, along with a four man crew, to rescue Jews from Nazi-occupied Denmark. After being brought to a warehouse along Copenhagen’s waterfront, the refugees were smuggled aboard the Gerda III and hidden in the cargo hold. The little vessel then set out on her official lighthouse supply duties but detoured to the coast of neutral Sweden and put her “cargo” ashore. The vessel was regularly boarded and checked by German soldiers, but the refugees were never discovered. The Gerda III rescued approximately 300 Jews in groups of ten to fifteen at a time. To learn more about the Gerda III, visit the Mystic Seaport Museum’s website.

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