If you go to Hiroshima, Japan today, you can visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. At the park, you can visit the Children’s Peace Monument. In this story, you’ll hear about Sadako Sasaki, the girl whose life inspired the Peace Monument.
The Hiroshima Children’s Peace Memorial recounts the life of Sadako Sasaki and tells how her death at age 12 inspired the creation of the Children’s Peace Monument. While listening to the story students will learn:
• At the age of 2, Sadako survived the August 1945 atomic bomb blast that destroyed much of Hiroshima.
• At the age of 12 she developed leukemia from radiation poisoning.
• Her life and death directly inspired the creation of the Children’s Peace Monument.
Sadako Sasaki was among the many people who died from the lingering effects of the blast, instead of from the blast itself. Her story has been retold in books, songs, exhibits, and here through the art of storytelling — along with a bit of origami, too.
1. The memorial in this story is referred to as a peace monument, but it only exists because of a war. How do you think peace memorials and monuments differ from war memorials and monuments? In what ways are they alike?
2. Most memorials and monuments commemorate something from the past. The Peace Monument was created both to remember Sadako Sasaki and as a plea for peace in the world. Do you think peace will ever exist throughout the world? Why or why not? For peace to exist, what will be necessary?
3. Sadako loved to run. If you became unable to pursue activities you enjoy, which activity do you believe you would miss the most? Why?
4. After the story of Sadako became widespread, the paper crane became a symbol of hope for peace. When you think of peace, what images come to mind? Do your images match those of your classmates, or are they your personal images of peace? What do you think could be the common sources for the ideas you and your classmates share? Why do you think different people could have different ideas for images of peace?
5. Sadako Sasaki’s classmates initiated the creation of the Children’s Peace Monument. Would you and your classmates like to create a memorial about an event you’ve studied or an event in your community? If so, what steps could you take to bring that about?
1. Take a virtual museum visit by visiting Sadako and the Paper Cranes – Transcending Time, a website based on a 2001 exhibit at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. No animations or videos are included, but the photos and text provide details about Sadako Sasaki’s life. English is provided for the various exhibit panels.
Compare and contrast the experience of learning about Sadako through the exhibit with learning about her through Megan Hicks’ telling of The Hiroshima Children’s Peace Memorial. Link.
2. Include The Hiroshima Children’s Peace Memorial story in your science classes when you study radiation.
Radiation: To Worry or Not to Worry is a lesson plan that provides basic information about radiation and includes several animations to help explain what is safe and what is troubling about radiation.
4. Make paper cranes. Once your students hear the story, they may want to learn how to make paper cranes.
5. Share information with students about the creative thought process of a contemporary sculptor, then challenge them to create a memorial or monument.Metal Sculpture: Ed Hamilton shows the sculptor talking about his methods and creative process.
Ask students to create a memorial about an important event they’ve been studying, or ask them to create a monument dedicated to advancing an idea important to them, such as family, community, kindness, or happiness. What sorts of images would they want to include and why? What words would be on their work? Where in their community do they imagine such a memorial or monument could be placed?
Once individuals or small groups have developed their ideas, allow time for them to share their ideas and hear about the ideas of classmates. If the whole class worked on the same topic, the sharing of ideas can provide inspiration for returning to their groups to revise and refine their ideas to make them both more practical and more meaningful.
6. Learn about the memorials in your town. Hiroshima, Japan, is the site of the Peace Monument created after the death of Sadako Sasaki. What memorials exist in your area? What do they commemorate? What might they reveal to visitors about what is important to your community? Students can photograph the memorials, and then prepare a presentation on what is explicitly stated or shown as part of the memorial and what can be inferred from the information and imagery.
7. Many school libraries will own the book “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes,” by Eleanor Coerr, published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons in 1977. Compare Coerr’s retelling of Sadako’s story with the retelling created by Hicks. Where do they agree on details? Where do they disagree? Did they relate events in the same order? What other similarities and differences do you notice?
8. Compare and contrast information from a non-fiction article with information provided in The Hiroshima Children’s Peace Memorial story. Articles can also lead to discussion about how countries, communities, groups, and individuals could engage in reconciliation after conflict.