Sadako's Story: Origami Cranes as a Symbol of Peace

Grade Level: 4


  • Math
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Language Arts
  • Technology

Timeline 2 40 minute lessons


  • Students will understand how the atom bomb tragedy affected Hiroshima and its impact on Sadako's life.
  • Students will understand why paper cranes are a symbol of peace for the people of Hiroshima.
  • Students will learn of the ancient art of origami and make their own origami crane.
  • Students will locate Hiroshima on a map.
  • Students will gain fraction number sense such as 1/2 and 1/4.



  • Map
  • Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes
  • A Place Called Hiroshima
  • folded paper cranes
  • origami paper
  • three simple origami instruction sheets



Introduce the topic by asking students the following questions:

  • Has anyone seen a paper crane before? (show class crane).
  • Does anyone know how these are made?
  • What art form is this called?
  • Does anyone know what country origami originated in? (China).

Development of concept:

Tell students that there is a true story about the crane and a girl who lived in Hiroshima, Japan during WWII. Have students locate Hiroshima on map.
Share Sadako's story with students. Show class real pictures of Sadako and the memorial that was built for her.

Discussion questions:

  • What did Sadako's classmates do for her after she died? Sadako folded 644 of the paper cranes.
  • What fraction did she fold?
  • What fraction of the paper cranes did her classmates fold?
  • Do we build memorials for people who have died also?
  • Can someone think of examples we have of memorials for people who have died?
  • In Japan, the crane is considered a symbol of luck and peace. What things symbolize luck for you?
  • What symbols do we have in the United States that symbolize peace?

Tell Students "We are going to make an animal using origami."

  • Model paper folding of penguin for students.
  • Have students make penguins in their groups and help where needed.
  •  Have students unfold paper and ask them:

"How many parts did you divide your square into by folding?"
"Are any of the parts the same size?"

  • Pass out remainder of origami worksheets.
  • Explain origami directions.

Discussion questions:

  • Tell me something that they learned in today's lesson that you did not know before?
  • What is origami?
  • What country is Hiroshima in?
  • What do cranes and the statue of Sadako represent to the people of Hiroshima?
  • What would be some skills to have if you want to be good at origami?
  • Would anyone like to share with the class what you made using origami?


Observe students

  1. Can they locate Hiroshima on a map
  2. During class discussion do students demonstrate a general understanding of origami, Japanese culture, impact of the atomic bomb, fraction number sense and fractions as related to paper folding.



This lesson plan was adapted from The Educator's Reference Desk lesson plan collection, Information Institute of Syracuse. Complete lesson plan is at: