Multimedia Activities For Educators

This website utilizes a number of interactive storytelling techniques that can be easily modeled in the classroom. For examples, visit Life & Times.

Want to learn how to integrate new media storytelling into your curriculum? Read the instructions for creating interactive timelines and maps below.

Student Timeline Projects

An interactive multimedia timeline is an excellent way to bring history to life in the digital age. We have used the Knight Lab’s easy and elegant timeline tool, Timeline JS3, to make this website’s timelines. Timeline JS3 allows you to easily embed media and written content onto your timeline’s slides and allows other visual customization tools such as background images, media thumbnails, and a title slide.

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Encourage students to use the timeline tool to explore more than basic biographical details. Students will produce the most meaningful timelines when they focus on the specific aspects of Sholem Aleichem’s life and works that particularly interest them. Get students to think broadly about the different ways in which timelines can be used and encourage them to consider different ways in which change over time can be applied to Sholem Aleichem. The list below is not exhaustive, but points to some of the diverse ways to approach the activity:

  • Beliefs – Sholem’s beliefs evolved over time. His relationship with socialism, Zionism, and Judaism are just some examples. Take one of these beliefs and use the timeline tool to demonstrate how Sholem’s thoughts on it evolved.
  • Relationships – Students could focus on individuals such as fellow Yiddish writer IL Peretz, with whom Sholem had a complex and fraught relationship, or consider Sholem’s relationship with different groups such as patrons or publishers.
  • Spaces – What was Sholem’s relationship with specific spaces such as The Pale of Settlement or The United States? Students could also consider fictional spaces. For example, how did Sholem imagine the shtetl or the city in his literary works?
  • Characters – Modern readers often forget that many of Sholem’s stories appeared in different stages over time. In the case of Tevye the Dairyman, his first and last appearances were decades apart. Consider the evolution Sholem’s characters over time. Students could also consider how changes in Sholem’s own life may have effected the development of these characters. 
  • Themes & Genres  – Sholem was a prolific writer. To disentangle his creative output and consider what themes or genres his output embodies can be a challenge. Use the timeline tool to illustrate the emergence and development of a particular theme or genre in his works.


The instructional video below gives a detailed and engaging overview of how to use Timeline JS3.

To build your timeline for, follow these six easy steps:

  1. Visit:
  2. Build a new Google Spreadsheet using the Knight Lab’s template. You’ll need to copy the template to your own Google Drive account by clicking the “Use this Template” button.
  3. Build your timeline! Place dates, text, and links to media in the appropriate columns. Don’t change the column headers, don’t remove any columns, and don’t leave any blank rows in your spreadsheet. A few suggestions:
    • Make sure to properly cite any media you embed onto your timeline in the Media Credit column.
    • Use all types of media! Timeline JS3 accepts images, video, audio, Google Maps, social media and more.
    • Group similar events into categories using the Group column. We’ve chosen to group events into “Biographical,” “Literary,” and “Historical” categories, but feel free to come up with your own. Groups can also be differentiated visually using different background colors and thumbnail images.
  4. Under the File menu, select “Publish to the Web.” In the next window, click the blue “publish” button. When asked, “Are you sure…?” click OK. Now, copy the URL that appears in the center of the window. You’ll use this in the next step.
  5. Return to and copy/paste the spreadsheet URL into the box on the homepage. If you want, you can explore the optional settings, which include customizing the timeline’s font, height, and language, among others.
  6. Copy the embed code provided and send it via email to We will take it from there!

Student Digital Mapping Project

Sholem Aleichem was often on the move, living in a constellation of towns and cities across Europe and the United States. After escaping anti-Jewish violence in Ukraine in 1905, he never settled permanently again. The places he lived fired up his literary imagination, and his experiences strongly inspired his fictional towns and cities. He in turn impacted the places where he spent time, and quickly became a fixture of the Jewish and literary worlds wherever he went.

Students can take part in by digitally mapping Sholem Aleichem’s life using Google Map Maker. Follow the instructions below to discover how to contribute your own map to our archive.

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There are many different ways students can interpret the digital mapping project. Here are a few suggested approaches:

  • Movement – Plot Sholem Aleichem’s movements. For example, students could focus on his childhood, his extensive speaking tours, his escape from creditors in Kiev in 1890 or the route of his funeral cortege in 1916 (pictured above). Annotate each entry on the map with information about how and why he ended up there, and what he did while he was there.
  • Networks – Map Sholem Aleichem’s social and professional networks. Where did the writers, publishers and friends with whom he associated live, work and socialize?
  • Impact – Map places where Sholem Aleichem made an impact, either contemporaneously or posthumously. In New York, for example, students could map productions of his plays, from his lifetime to today.
  • Historical Events –  Map the historical events that Sholem Aleichem experienced, such at the 1905 Odessa Pogrom, and describe their effect on him.


To make a map:

  1. Sign in to gmail or create a gmail account
  2. Visit:
  3. In the top left, click the Menu
  4. Click My Maps.
  5. Click Create

To edit your map:

  1. Click Base Map to set the style of your map. We recommend you choose Simple Atlas. As many street names and structures have changed in the century since Sholem Aleichem’s death, Simple Atlas visually represents the world in which Sholem Aleichem lived by removing most points of interest and simplying the street structure.
  2. To add entries to your map, search the address of the entry in the search bar. This step may require some detective work, as many of the addresses you are searching for no longer exist. If this is the case, attempt to find out what street a historical address is now on with the help of  archival maps and images. Mark historical addresses as accurately as possible on the map.
  3. When you have entered a valid location into the search bar, it should appear as a green icon on the map. Click on the icon and then click Add to Map. When the icon turns red, the location has been saved on your map.
  4. Click on the red icon to customize the entry. Google may have automatically added some information onto the entry, but if you’d like to add your own, click Remove. To add text to the entry click the icon, and to add media to the entry click the camera icon. You can add either images from Google image search or your own images if you have an image URL. You can also add Youtube videos.
  5. If you want to visually connect the points of your map, you can do so by clicking on the Draw a Line icon.

To publish your map on

  1. Click on the three vertical dots to the right of the button labelled Share.
  2. Click Embed on My Site from the drop-down menu.
  3. A window will pop up containing the HTML code of your site
  4. Copy the HTML code and send it to We will take it from there!