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.

The Museum’s exhibition Emma Lazarus: Poet of Exiles explored the life and impact of Jewish American poet Emma Lazarus, who wrote “The New Colossus,” the poem inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty.

After reading the poem together, use these questions to guide your discussion:

  • The name of the famous poem Emma Lazarus wrote is The New Colossus. A colossus is a gigantic statue. Who is the colossus she’s writing about?
    • She is writing about the Statue of Liberty.
  • Let’s think about this part of the poem: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It says, “Give me.” Who is saying “give me”?
    • The Statue of Liberty is the one speaking.
  • Why would she say she wants to welcome people who are tired and poor?
    • She is saying that because she will give immigrants a safe place with opportunities to live a better life.
    • Follow up question: Does she really mean the Statue will give immigrants a better life or that the United States will give immigrants a better life?
  • The poem also talks about people who yearn to breathe free. Yearn means to want something very much. How do you feel when you breathe free? This freedom is what Emma Lazarus is saying America can offer immigrants. What are some freedoms she might mean?
    • Some of the freedoms include freedom of speech, freedom of religion/worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

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