Sadako and The Thousand Paper Cranes Unit Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes' is a children's novel by Eleanor Coerr about a girl who contracts leukemia due to radiation poisoning in Hiroshima. This resource provides teachers a framework for creating lesson plans about this novel.

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

What are the long-term effects of using weapons of mass destruction? Why is the production and proliferation of nuclear weapons at the center of many of the United States' most intense foreign policy disputes? While reading Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr, students will learn about the devastating effect of radiation poisoning on a little girl in Hiroshima, Japan years after the atomic bomb was dropped. While this book is fictitious, it is based on the true story of Sadako Sasaki. This unit plan helps teachers plan lessons for upper elementary and middle school students about Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.


Students at this grade level likely have a limited understanding of the Pacific Theater during World War II or the bombing at Hiroshima. Students will have a deeper understanding of the novel if they are provided some background information about these events. A simple slide show that includes pictures of Pearl Harbor, a map of Japan, a picture of the atomic bomb exploding over Hiroshima, and a picture of the statue of Sadako from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial will provide students with context for the novel study.

Sadako's hope is tied to a Japanese legend that includes making origami cranes. The Origami Lesson Plan will introduce students to the concept of origami through a text lesson and an opportunity to create their own origami piece.

Prior to reading the novel, the Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Lesson Plan introduces students to the author and prepares students for the novel through a text lesson, discussion, and activities. Students will make predictions about the book based on this introductory lesson.

Novel Instruction

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Questions identifies questions that support comprehension of the text. This asset includes questions that can be used before, during, and after reading. The pre-reading questions help students connect to the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The during reading questions focus on major plot points. The post-reading questions encourage deeper analysis and reflection.

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