Heroes in Our Community
This lesson will help students recognize heroes within their community. Children quite often revere sports stars and celebrities. But most real heroes are not people of great renown. They live near us. By performing small acts, they win our admiration. Since children imitate what they see and hear, it is important to point out to them what actions merit honor and which individuals deserve admiration.
- The Children's Book of Heroes by William Bennett
- student copies of Handout One: Real Heroes in Our Community (in Spanish, Handout Three)
- student copies of Handout Two: Real Heroes Are Everywhere (in Spanish, Handout Four)
Ask the students to think of themselves as a hero, someone who has done something to make their world a better place to be. Send home Real Heroes are Everywhere (see Attachment Two) as an assignment, allow students to share the information when it is returned, and post it on the "Heroes Are Everywhere" display.
Bennett, William J. The Children's Book of Heroes. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997.
Anticipatory Set:The teacher should hold up the book, The Children's Book of Heroes, and ask the students what they think the book is about.
From the book, read the story "How the Animals Got Sunlight."
Lead a discussion following the story on the following points:
- What is a hero? A hero is a person who is admired for great courage, special achievements or noble character; or a person who, against the odds, tries when others have already tried and failed. Such perseverance sometimes makes heroes.
- Who was the hero in this story and why?The spider was the hero because she tried and succeeded in getting the sun for the animals.
- How did she get the sun? She left a thread trail to follow home and put the sun in a clay pot on her back.
- What happened to the Possum when he tried to bring the sun back to the animals? The brightness blinded him so even now he squints. The sun was too hot and burned off all of the fur on Possum's bushy tail. That is why today possum's tail is long and bare.
- What happened to the Vulture when he tried to get the sun? Vulture tried to carry the sun on his head. It burned off all his head feathers and made him dizzily fly in circles. Today vultures are bald and fly in circles.
- Do you think that you would attempt to get the sun after you saw what happened to Possum and Vulture?
- Do you think Spider was brave?
- Explain that one does not need to be big and strong in order to do something great for their people.
Read the story "The Hero of Indian Cliff" from The Children's Book of Heroes. This is a story of true brotherhood. It is about putting yourself on the line for someone you love.
Lead a discussion following the story, asking the following questions:
- Who was the hero in this story? Why? Nando was the hero because he saved his brother's life.
- Nando had always looked up to his brother Manuel. What were some of the ways that Manuel showed he was a caring older brother? Possible answers would include:
- Manuel carried the knapsack.
- He was giving his brother a special birthday by showing him the way to Indian Cliff.
- He had brought a rope that he used at steep parts of the trail to help Nando along.
- Heroes are generally people whom we admire. Do you think that Manuel admires his little brother? How?
Name some heroes in our society. Why are they considered heroes? Why do we admire them?
Make a list of the names on a large sheet. Be sure to have more heroes listed than students. Examples might include: Martin Luther King Jr., Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, and Nelson Mandela.
On a large sheet of mural paper have students draw a picture of the hero that they have chosen from the class-generated list. Write the hero's name and a short sentence about why that person is considered to be a hero. For example: Martin Luther King fought for equal rights for all.
Read the story "Tashira's Turn" from The Children's Book of Heroes. This story illustrates how the daily examples of others can turn any one of us into a hero.
Lead a discussion on the following questions:
- What was Tashira's mom doing when she said it was her turn to help? She was washing graffiti off of the school walls.
- What was Tashira's teacher doing when she said it was her turn to help? She was painting the church steeple.
- What did Reverend Wilburn do when he said it was his turn to help? He made dinner for a family that had a new baby.
- What did Officer Hamlette do? He stood on the corner and made the neighborhood safe.
- What did Tashira end up doing when it was her turn to help? Tashira pulled a boy out of a smoky window.
- She was very brave to do that. The boy told her that someone else was still inside. What did Tashira do next? She went to get help.
- Do you think Tashira was smart to know that she needed help? Why?
Review the meaning of "philanthropy" (the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good). Ask the students to decide why people who act in this way are considered to be doing good for the community. Tell students to think about all of the different things that people did in this story. They all were doing things to help out the people who lived near them, in their community. Ask if they were acting philanthropically.
Explain that they all were heroes in their own way. Ask students to name some people in the community who are heroes. Can they think of any people who take their turn and help everyone by what they do?
- Volunteer firefighters
- Parents that volunteer at school
- People that bake for bake sales
- People who help the elderly
- People that plan celebrations for everyone to enjoy, i.e., 4th of July
- First Responders
- People who teach: Sunday school, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4-H
- Kids who help younger kids learn something new
- People who help their neighbors
- People who coach: Little League, soccer, football, and baseball
Homework: Tell students to think of a person whom they personally know and consider to be a hero. Tell them to write down a few facts about this person. Tell students to think about what it is that makes them think this person is a hero.
The teacher will assess the students on their participation in the discussions and on how well they followed the Hero Profile requirements.
Encourage students to think of a way to acknowledge the contributions of everyday heroes. They may write a thank you or illustrate a beautiful card for an everyday hero or someone who made a special effort in a crisis. They may use social media to call attention to the efforts someone made. Students may start saying, "Thank you for your service" to people serving in the military, firefighters, and other service people, and spread the word to encourage others to do the same.
Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
Benchmark E.6 Explain why acting philanthropically is good for the community, state, nation, or world.
Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
Benchmark E.1 Explore and research issues and present solutions using communication tools.
Benchmark E.4 Analyze information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to the common good.