Number the Stars Vocabulary Activities

Instructor: Grace Pisano

Grace has a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in teaching. She previously taught high school in several states around the country.

'Number the Stars' is an award-winning book about life during the Holocaust. Use the activities in this resource to enhance your students' understanding of the vocabulary used throughout the book.

Number the Stars

In Number the Stars, author Lois Lowry takes the Holocaust, something that is, by its nature, inaccessible to children, and brings it down to their level through the eyes of the fictional character of Annemarie Johansen. As your students read the book, incorporate these activities to ensure students understand the vocabulary of the novel. These activities are designed for upper elementary or early middle school students, to match the reading level of the book. However, they can be used in any classroom where students are reading Number the Stars.

Most of the resource is broken down by sections of the book. There are vocabulary lists provided for the sections, but feel free to use your own word list if that is more suitable for your students.

Pre-Reading: Background Vocabulary

Before reading Number the Stars, introducing your students to some of the vocabulary associated with the religion, history and setting of the novel will help ensure that they understand the plot. To do this, use the background vocabulary from the resource Number the Stars Vocabulary.

Break students into small groups of about five. Then, assign each group one or two of the terms from this section (there are seven total). The group will come up with a small skit to teach the class about the word. Students can look up the words online, but should use the sentences from the resource as a starting point. After creating their skit, they will share it with the class.

  • Materials Needed: None

Chapters 1-4: Define the Word

For this activity, students will find the words in their book and use context clues to create a definition of the word. Although it is at your discretion, students can complete this in small groups of three students and brainstorm with one another before coming up with a consensus of what the word means.

After students define the words using context clues, come together as a class and have the groups share what they thought. Then, give students the actual definition of each word.

No pages numbers are listed for the words below because they vary from one edition of a book to another. You may want to find the words in the version of the book your students are using and direct them to the correct page.

Suggested Vocabulary:

  1. belligerent
  2. defiant
  3. hesitate
  4. incident
  5. jubilee
  6. ration
  7. reassure
  8. sabotage
  9. sneer
  10. sophisticated
  • Materials Needed: None

Chapters 5-8: Diary Entries

For this activity, students will be writing a diary entry from the perspective of Annemarie. The diary entry should be based on the events of this group of chapters. This includes the visit from Nazis in the middle of the night, the train ride to her uncle's house and the discovery of the casket.

In their entry, students should use at least five of the vocabulary words listed below. For this activity, you may want to give students a definition of the words ahead of time or instruct them to work in groups to define the words before writing their diary entry.

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