14 Cows for America Lesson Plan

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

Through the activities in this lesson plan, students will learn about the Maasai tribe in Kenya, Africa, and the sacrifice they made for the U.S. as a result of the September 11 attacks. Activities involve having students make connections to the book using drawing and poetry.

Learning Objectives

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • explain the sacrifice made by the Masai tribe to the U.S. people for 9/11
  • explain the idea of sacrificing something you love for someone else
  • draw and write about a sacrifice they could make
  • write an acrostic poem related to sacrifice


30-45 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.


Explain how specific aspects of a text's illustrations contribute to what is conveyed by the words in a story (e.g., create mood, emphasize aspects of a character or setting).


With guidance and support from adults, produce writing in which the development and organization are appropriate to task and purpose.

Materials Needed

  • 14 Cows for America by Carmen Agra Deedy (1 copy to read aloud)
  • drawing paper
  • crayons or markers
  • writing paper
  • pencils
  • SMART Board or projector


  • Display the lesson, Maasai Tribe Lesson for Kids using the SMART Board or projector. Read the lesson aloud to the students, asking them to follow along silently as you read.
  • Discuss the lesson with questions, such as:
    • What is the name of the tribe we just learned about?
    • Where do they live?
    • What does 'semi-nomadic' mean?
    • Why are cows so important to the Maasai people?
    • Where do the Maasai make their homes? What is this called?
    • What do the Maasai expect of the boys of the tribe?
  • Tell the students you are going to read them a book about the Maasai. Read aloud the book, 14 Cows for America.
  • Ask students to respond to discussion questions, such as:
    • Who was the narrator telling the story?
    • Where was Kimeli from?
    • Why was Kimeli in New York City during the September 11 attacks?
    • Why had Kimeli come home to his tribe in Kenya?
    • When Kimeli tells his tribe about the September 11 attacks, what is their reaction?
    • What does Kimeli decide to give to the people of America? Why is this a huge sacrifice for him?
    • When the U.S. Ambassador visits the village, what do the Maasai give to him?
    • What has become of the 14 cows?
  • Page through the book again, having the students look closely at the paintings that are used for illustration. Ask questions such as:
    • What does the artist's use of color tell you about the climate of Kenya?
    • What do the pictures tell you about the tribe?
    • What is one thing you learned looking at the pictures that was not in the text?
  • Read aloud the 'Note from Kimeli Naiyomah' at the end of the book.
  • Ask the students discussion questions, such as:
    • What did Kimeli mean by this statement, 'Because there is no nation so powerful it cannot be wounded, nor a people so small they cannot offer mighty comfort?'
    • What is the moral of this story?


Activity 1

  • Explain to the students that the moral of the story, 14 Cows for America is 'To heal a sorrowing heart, give something that is dear to your own.'
  • Discuss the meaning of the moral with the students.
  • Ask them to think of things that are 'very dear' to them. Have the students turn and talk with a partner, describing something very dear to them.
  • Ask the students to draw a picture of the thing that is 'very dear to them' that they would give to someone else if they needed to help them 'heal a sorrowing heart,' as Kimeli and the Maasai did in the story.
  • Ask the students to write about why they selected the item and why it is dear to them.

Activity 2

  • Show students an acrostic poem, made by writing a word or line starting with each letter of the key word.
  • Ask students to write an acrostic poem for the words 'HOPE' or 'SACRIFICE.'
  • Display the poems and drawings on a bulletin board or in a class book.

Lesson Extensions

  • Involve the students in a community service activity, such as collecting food for a food bank or soup kitchen, or collecting pet food for a local animal shelter.
  • Read aloud another book about making a sacrifice to help someone in need, and ask the students to compare this story to 14 Cows for America. Any one of these books would be appropriate:
    • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
    • A Castle on Viola Street by Dyanne DiSalvo
    • The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polcacco

Related Lessons

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Filtered by: {{}}   {{}}   {{}}   Clear All Filters
Courses: {{}}