More Information

SUBJECT
Reading, Social Studies, Arts and Crafts, Character and Values, Language Arts

GRADE
3-8

AGE
8-14

Source
Scholastic News Online

Scholastic News Online is a free resource with breaking news and highlights from the print magazine.

Available for grades 1-6, Scholastic News magazine brings high-interest current events and nonfiction to millions of classrooms each week.

Additionally, our subscribers have FREE access to Scholastic News Interactive, an exclusive online learning tool featuring digital editions, videos, interactive features, differentiated articles, and much more.


Lesson Plans: Hooray for Heroes Theme Unit

Explore the concept of heroism with cross-curricular, character-building activities

By Jacqueline Clarke | 2000

Children hear the word hero used today more than ever. Yet what does it mean to be a hero? Explore this concept in depth with students, then host a special day to celebrate and honor the heroes in their lives.

What Is a Hero?
Kick off your hero studies by inviting children to create dictionary entries for the word. Begin by reviewing the different parts of an entry — the word divided into syllables, pronunciation, part of speech, and definition — and having students include these components in their work. After they share what they've written with the class, record a class definition on colorful poster board for display. Encourage students to refer to this definition to help them identify heroes in their own lives, in history, and in literature, and remind them that they each may have many heroes. You might also invite them to create Hero Sandwich Booklets.

Hero Sandwich Booklets
 What characteristics make up a hero? Pose this question to your students, and list their responses on a chart. Then invite children to create "hero" sandwiches to identify the characteristics that they believe are most important in a hero. First, have them cut out construction paper "bread slices." Then ask each student to cut out a few construction-paper sandwich fillings (such as meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomato). Have them label each with one characteristic of a hero, using the chart you've created as a reference. Show them how to stack and staple the fillings between the bread to make booklets. Invite student to share and compare their booklets to discover that heroes can exhibit any combination of heroic qualities.

Personal Heroes
To help children recognize heroes among the familiar people in their own lives, ask them to think about family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, and so on. Do they have special admiration for any of these people? What qualities do they admire? Why? Give children time to consider these questions, then distribute the Reproducible on page 70 and encourage them to complete it.

Hero Hallway of Fame
Children can honor their own living and historical heroes with portraits in a class "hallway" of fame. Lead students in naming some living heroes, such as a president or other public figure; or seasonal historical heroes, such as Johnny Appleseed or the Mayflower pilgrims who set sail in September 1620. As the discussion evolves, challenge children to think of other living and historical heroes they might know. They can also gain inspiration from www.rolemodel.net; www.myhero.com; The Barefoot Book of Heroic Children, by Rebecca Hazell (Barefoot Books, 2000); 50 Great Americans Every Kid Should Know, by Jacqueline Ball (McLanahan, 1998); and The Children's Book of Heroes, by William Bennett (Simon & Schuster, 1997). Next, have students create portraits of their favorite heroes using crayons, markers, colored pencils, paint, and craft items such as yarn, fabric, buttons, wallpaper, newspaper, and so on. Back the portraits with construction-paper frames, and have students title their work with the subject's name. Display the portraits under a "Hero Hallway of Fame" banner, with students taking turns as the hallway tour guide.

Parade of Heroes
After setting up a Hands for Heroes Bulletin Board (below), host a parade of heroes! To prepare, send a note home informing parents of the event, and asking each to help create a costume that represents a favorite hero. In the note, suggest ideas for story characters, historical figures, or general occupations such as nurse or firefighter. On parade day, have pairs of students interview each other to learn about the heroes that they represent, then write their interview notes on cards. Invite each child's partner to introduce the hero being represented, and to briefly name one of his or her accomplishments. For example, "Danny is dressed as George Washington. He was our first President!" Photograph each child as he or she is being introduced, then parade around the school. Later, use the photos and student interview cards to create a scrapbook.

Hands For Heroes Bulletin Board
 Invite children to identify literary heroes! First, read aloud several fables, folktales, and other appropriate stories. Ask students to name the hero in each, challenging them to use the class definition to determine whether or not characters are truly heroes.

Then have children trace their hands on construction paper, cut out the outlines, and label each with a favorite literary hero and his or her heroic accomplishment. As students read more stories, encourage them to create additional hands for display.

Hero Celebration
Culminate your studies with a hero celebration day. First, help students create invitations that they can present to their everyday heroes. Before the big day, guide students in making "hero" shirts using fabric crayons, as well as "hero" ribbons to give to their guests. At the celebration, ask kids to speak about their heroes and to present them each with a ribbon. Let guests browse the hero booklets, bulletin board, and scrapbook that your class has created, then lead a tour of your Hero Hallway of Fame. Ideas in this unit contributed by Kathy Cunningham, Fred Fowler, Lynn Peters, Dorothy Giebel, Cheryl Kieloch, Jo Beth Lehrer, Joan Robson, Seth Fancey, Beth Meany, and Sue Squire at Morgan Road Elementary School in Liverpool, New York.

The Hero in Me
Give students an opportunity to think about times in their own lives when they faced a challenge in order to help someone. Bring in an empty picture frame at least 8" x 10" large, and remove the glass and backing. Seat children in a circle and pass the frame around. Encourage each student to look through the frame and describe how he or she went out of the way to come to someone's aid. For example, "I was helpful when I made friends with the new kid," or "I was helpful when John fell off his bike and I brought him to the nurse." Once everyone has had a turn, have classmates describe helpful qualities about each child in the frame. Make sure each student gets a hearty round of applause!

About the Author

Jacqueline Clarke is the author of two recent professional books for teachers, Best-Ever Activities for Grades 2-3: Graphing (Scholastic Inc., 2002) and Best-Ever Activities for Grades 2-3: Vocabulary (Scholastic Inc., 2002).

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level W

    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level W

    Visit the Scholastic Guided Reading Programs website for more information.

    Scholastic Guided Reading Programs deliver the materials you need to help ALL students become strategic and independent readers who love to read! The programs were created and carefully leveled by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell, America's leading authority on guided reading. The instruction aligns to No Child Left Behind, including rigorous guided practice in comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and fluency. The Guided Reading system for book leveling assigns each book a letter (A-Z) based on the degree of challenge it represents.

    Our Guided Reading Content Areas Program enhances students' knowledge in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics and builds reading skills! Fill your guided reading sessions with rich content while you develop essential vocabulary, build background knowledge, and develop strategic reading skills.

    The program features:

    • Titles aligned to content area standards in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics.
    • Carefully leveled books that give students access to critical knowledge.
    • Lesson plans that develop important skills for reading informational text.
    • A Teacher's Guide written by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell.
    Each Leveled Library Includes:
    • 60 Trade Books (6 copies of 10 titles)
    • Teacher's Guide by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell
    • 10 Teaching Cards with instructional suggestions for each title
    • Leveling Stickers for identifying leveled books
    • Attractive Storage Box
    Guided Reading Content Areas Level W:
    Books present complex information requiring readers to employ a wide range of content knowledge and to understand the basic organizational structures of nonfiction; topics explore the human condition and social issues; texts vary in length; print is generally in a small font.

    Level W titles*:

    • G is for Googol: A Math Alphabet Book
    • Dear Dr. Bell Your Friend, Helen Keller
    • Extraordinary Women Scientists
    • A Grand Canyon Journey: Tracing Time in Stone
    • Adam of the Road
    • Daniel's Story
    • Extraordinary Young People
    • The Journal of James Edmond Pease: A Civil War Union Soldier, Virginia, 1863
    • Portraits of African-American Heroes
    • Standing Tall: The Story of Ten Hispanic Americans
      *Titles are subject to availability.

      $359.95 You save: 25%
      Supplementary Collection | Grades 5-6
      Add To Cart
      Educators Only
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level W
    Grades 5-6 $359.95
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level S

    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level S

    Visit the Scholastic Guided Reading Programs website for more information.

    Scholastic Guided Reading Programs deliver the materials you need to help ALL students become strategic and independent readers who love to read! The programs were created and carefully leveled by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell, America's leading authority on guided reading. The instruction aligns to No Child Left Behind, including rigorous guided practice in comprehension, phonics, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, and fluency. The Guided Reading system for book leveling assigns each book a letter (A-Z) based on the degree of challenge it represents.

    Our Guided Reading Content Areas Program enhances students' knowledge in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics and builds reading skills! Fill your guided reading sessions with rich content while you develop essential vocabulary, build background knowledge, and develop strategic reading skills.

    The program features:

    • Titles aligned to content area standards in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics.
    • Carefully leveled books that give students access to critical knowledge.
    • Lesson plans that develop important skills for reading informational text.
    • A Teacher's Guide written by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell.
    Each Leveled Library Includes:
    • 60 Trade Books (6 copies of 10 titles)
    • Teacher's Guide by Dr. Gay Su Pinnell
    • 10 Teaching Cards with instructional suggestions for each title
    • Leveling Stickers for identifying leveled books
    • Attractive Storage Box
    Guided Reading Content Areas Level S:
    Selections challenge readers to make connections with previous reading and with historical events; words present many shades of meaning that require readers' interpretations; this level includes chapter books in a variety of genres.

    Level S titles*:

    • What's Your Angle, Pythagoras?
    • Cuts, Scrapes, Scabs and Scars
    • Light and Color
    • The Water Cycle
    • Wacky Trees
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • Christopher Columbus
    • The Civil Rights Movement in America
    • Thomas Edison
    • Valley Forge
      *Titles are subject to availability.

      $359.95 You save: 25%
      Supplementary Collection | Grades 4-5
      Add To Cart
      Educators Only
    Guided Reading Content Areas: Level S
    Grades 4-5 $359.95
    Add To Cart
Help | Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR NAME

* YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS

* RECIPIENT'S EMAIL ADDRESS(ES)

(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.

INCLUDE A PERSONAL MESSAGE (Optional)


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.