Silver Threads Teacher’s Guide

With tears in their eyes, Anna and Ivan travelled across the ocean to Canada.
With tears in their eyes, Anna and Ivan travelled across the ocean to Canada.Silver Threads

Silver Threads

by Marsha Skrypuch
art by Michael Martchenko

Fitzhenry & Whiteside 2004
isbn 1550419013 (hardcover)
isbn: 155041903X (paperback)

Anna and Ivan escape hardship in Ukraine to build a home on the Canadian frontier. But when war breaks out in Europe, Ivan is imprisoned as an enemy of their new country. Now Anna is left alone to complete the homestead while she waits patiently for the miracle that will bring her husband back to her.

Pre-reading activities

Look at the cover of Silver Threads.

What do you think they’re looking at?

Where do you think the story takes place? Why?

What occupation are these two people involved in?

When do you think the story takes place? Why?

What can you tell about their land?

What can you tell from the clothing they wear?

What do you think the title might mean?

Reading comprehension

Read the story out loud.

Now, go back to the pre-reading activities.

How many of these questions did you guess correctly from looking at the cover?

Why do Anna and Ivan leave Bukovyna?

What do they pack in their luggage?

Why does Ivan give the spider crumbs?

Why is Ivan arrested?


Sviat Vecher

Define the above words. Write each in a sentence or draw a picture to show their meaning.

Celebrations/Cultural Traditions

On the day before Ivan is arrested, he and Anna hold a traditional celebration. What celebration do they hold?

When is Sviat Vecher (Ukrainian Christmas Eve) celebrated? (January 6th)

List the foods that Anna prepares

How does Ivan decorate the tree?

How is this celebration the same/different from one that you celebrate/know about?

Activity: Have a holiday tradition party. Everyone in the class is encouraged to wear or bring an item or clothing that reflects a family tradition. Students can bring samples of traditional foods.

Canadian history

Here is a free downloadable Teacher’s Guide on WWI Internment.

When did this story take place (1914, during WWI)

Why did Ivan get put in an internment camp? (More Info)

What other groups have been interned at different times in Canada?
(More Info)

Discuss: Compare the treatment of the Ukrainians who were interned in WWI to the Japanese who were interned during WWII. (both groups were forced to do labour; both had property confiscated. However, the federal government has made reparations to the Japanese community, but has never even acknowledged the injustice of the Ukrainian internment.)


On a map of the world, find Bukovyna, Ukraine.

Find where Anna and Ivan settled in Canada (a prairie province)

Draw a line to connect the two

Can you estimate how many kilometres their journey was?

What is the climate like in Ukraine?

What is the climate like in the Canadian prairies?

What is the land like in Ukraine/Canadian prairies?

Here is a map of internment camps across Canada.

Drama/Art/Creative Writing

Reread the part about when Ivan is arrested. What would happen if instead of being arrested, Ivan was allowed to fight for Canada? Working either alone or in small groups, think of how the story would change. Illustrate this, either by drawing a picture, acting out a scene, or writing a revised ending. (note: some Ukrainians did fight for Canada in World War I. They had to change their names to something that didn’t sound Ukrainian. Some were awarded medals for their bravery and some were killed in action. Others were caught and sent back to Canada and put in internment camps.)

General information on Ukraine here.

Author: Marsha

I write historical fiction, mostly from the perspective of young people who are thrust in the midst of war.