Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes




On August 6, 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a city in southwestern Honshu, which is Japan's main island. Because of the atomic bomb, there were many devastating effects both to the people of Japan and to their resources.

You will be reading the historical novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, a true story about a girl who lived in Hiroshima on the day that the United States dropped the atomic bomb on that city in an attempt to end World War II. To better understand the novel, you will need to conduct research about this event in history and its effect on the people of Hiroshima and the world at large.

Your research should enable you to answer the following question:

How does learning about the historical period help you to better understand the novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes?

Task and Product





Your task will be to research an important aspect of the Japanese homefront during World War II and/or the bombing of Hiroshima along with another class member. You will become specialists on this topic and will then present your findings to the class in an informative and creative way.

You will write a paragraph and create a visual in the form of a scrapbook page, a newspaper article, or a video newscast, debate, public affairs story, interview, or talk show about your research topic in preparation for a special Sadako Memorial Day . We will share our findings that day before we read the novel.

You will be selecting your research topic from the following list:

  • Events leading up to World War II
  • How and why Japan came to be involved in World War II
  • How and why the U. S. came to be involved in World War II
  • The Manhattan Project (1942) and the development of the Atomic Bomb
  • President Harry Truman and the decision to drop the bomb
  • The Enola Gay and the Hiroshima bombing mission
  • The Japanese homefront in the 1940s - their customs, traditions, values, and beliefs
  • Hiroshima - before the bomb, after the bomb, and today
  • Emperor Hirohito and the surrender of Japan
  • Sources of radiation, types of radiation exposure, and effects of radiation exposure (including radiation-induced or radiation-associated leukemia)
  • Japanese memorials related to the atomic bombing (Peace park, etc.)
  • Survivors of the atomic bombings
  • The history and basics of origami
  • Japanese cranes as symbols and in legends




You will be graded on your daily work on the research process, your group work, and your group's creative project and presentation.

Research Process Assessments
Daily Research Assessments (formative)
Student Self-Assessment Rubric for Research Module (summative)
Teacher Assessment Rubric for Student Research Module (summative)

Individual Research Assessment

Research Response Scoring Tool

Final Product Scoring Tool
Your teacher may use this scoring tool for all of the creative products or may select one of the specific scoring tools below:



Essential Question:

How does learning about the historical period help you to better understand the novel Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes?

Subsidiary Questions: Click here for some sample questions to jump-start your thinking. Then see if you can add some specific questions of your own about your research topic.

Gather and Sort


Gather information about your topic from a variety of sources.

Sort your research findings using a notetaking worksheet in Cornell notes format or use note cards. If you prefer to take notes on lined notebook paper, write each of your subsidiary questions at the top of a separate sheet of notebook paper.

Click here for some guidelines in deciding which information to record when taking notes (the relevant information) and which to leave out and not include in your notes (the irrelevant information).

Be sure to avoid plagiarism by properly paraphrasing and quoting in your writing. The following links will provide you with some extra practice in avoiding plagiarism:

Keep track of your resources for a bibliography. Cite all information sources you use for your team's list of Works Cited. Follow a guide to prepare your bibliography (works cited) or use an online site for help, such as one of the following:



Meet with the other members of your group to analyze your research notes and determine if you have gathered sufficient information about your topic.

    • Do you have enough details to answer each of your subsidiary questions?
    • Do you have additional information that would be of value to your audience?
    • Is there any unrelated information you should eliminate?
    • Have you gathered sufficient details to answer your research focus question?
    • Are there visuals that will help to enhance your product?

Decide together on the best format for sharing your information with the class. Re-visit the scoring tools for each product to help in making your decision. Plan how you will complete your group project/presentation in the amount of time given by your teacher.

As you work together to create your project, use the scoring tools to ensure that you are meeting the requirements and to self-assess your work when you are finished.

Evaluate the effectiveness of your research for the task.

  • Is your research (and that of your partners) reflected in the final project?
  • How well does your visual enhance or explain the information in your product?
  • Did you cite your sources?

    Write a final draft of your research response paragraph and create the final version of your visual. Then create your final product (scrapbook page with a journal entry, newspaper article with visuals or newscast with visuals) using appropriate tools such as Microsoft Word, Power Point, or Microsoft Publisher.

  • Conclusion


    Students will present their research products before the class reads Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

    After reading the novel, reflect on the devastation brought about by the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and how that affected the lives of the people living in that area as depicted in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.
    Write a sourcebook entry to explain how your understanding of the story was enhanced by your new knowledge of the novel's historical context.


    Read this individual's travelogue (beginning with the fourth paragraph) to learn how one traveler reacted to the Hiroshima Peace Park and memorials. What do you find surprising in her description? What did not surprise you? Is there anything you learned from your research that you would like to investigate further?


    May 2005