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This unit study includes lessons and printables based on the book The Harmonica by Tony Johnston.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, a family is split apart. The parents are sent to one concentration camp, their son to another. Only his father’s gift, a harmonica, keeps the boy’s hopes alive and, miraculously, ensures his survival. When an officer discovers his talent, he makes the boy play each night. Through music the boy invokes his parents and brings comfort to the other prisoners, lifting their spirits if only for a moment at time.

Thanks to Celia Hartmann for writing the lessons for this The Harmonica unit study.

The Harmonica Unit Study Lessons

Here are some sample lessons from the The Harmonica Unit Study.

Geography – Poland: The story takes place in Poland. Reading the note at the back, we know that Henryk grew up in Czeladz, Poland and he was taken to the Dyhernfurth concentration camp. Poland was just one of many countries that the Germans invaded. Help your student locate Poland on a map or globe. Point out other countries around Poland that were occupied by Nazi troops. Help your child to understand just how many countries were affected and how many people.

History – Holocaust: In 1933, before WWII even officially began, concentration camps were created by the Nazis. “The term concentration camp refers to a camp in which people are detained or confined, usually under harsh conditions and without regard to legal norms of arrest and imprisonment.” By the beginning of the War, people taken to the camps were either killed or put to hard labor (work). “Those forced to work, were deliberately undernourished and mistreated” with the intent that they would be killed by the work.

Hope: Talk to your student about feelings of despair, of losing hope, of having no hope at all. Also discuss the importance of hope. Where does hope come from? You may want to introduce your older student to Emily Dickinson’s poem “Hope is the thing with feathers…”

You can grab a copy of the entire The Harmonica Unit Study and Lapbook in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

Poland Lapbook Printables

This file includes some mini-books for your student to create a Poland Lapbook:

  • Capital City Simple Fold Book
  • Poland’s Official Language Simple Fold Book
  • Flag of Poland Simple Fold Book
  • Map of Poland Shutterfold Book
  • Population Graph Book
  • Time Comparison Flap Book
  • Weather Conditions Activity Page
  • Geography of Poland Flap Book

How to Get Started with Your The Harmonica Unit Study & Poland Lapbook

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the The Harmonica Unit Study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, The Harmonica, or borrow one from your local library.
  2. Print the The Harmonica unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Choose and prepare the lapbook printables you want to use with your student.
  5. Learn about this tragic time in history with your student.

Get Your Free The Harmonica Unit Study & Poland Lapbook

Simply click on the image below to access your free The Harmonica Unit Study and Lapbook.

The Harmonica Unit Study

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