Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Rae Harrelson
Santa Rosa District Schools


Students hear a story about the atomic bombing of Japan and write an editorial about the event from the perspective of either a Japanese or an American.


The student understands that historical events are subject to different interpretations.


-Book: Coerr, Eleanor. [Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes]. New York: Putnam's Sons, 1977.
-Chart paper or board
-Editorial Assessment Checklist, one per student (See Associated File)
-An example of a newspaper editorial
-Notebook paper


1. Obtain a copy of [Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes] and read before sharing with students.
2. Make a copy of the Editorial Assessment Checklist for each student. (See Associated File)
3. Locate an example of a newspaper editorial to share with students.
4. Have either a large piece of chart paper or a board available for listing student responses.


1. Begin by asking students to listen to a story about a Japanese girl who lived in Hiroshima, Japan during World War II.

2. Read [Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes] by Eleanor Coerr.

3. Discuss the story by asking students to describe Sadako. List student observations on chart paper or board.

4. Review events that led to the United States dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ask the following questions for review:
-Why was Japan taking over lands in Asia and the Pacific?
-What nations were Japanís allies during this time in history?
-Explain the significance of December 7, 1941.
-What and where was Pearl Harbor?
-What was the reaction of the U.S. government to the events of December 7, 1941?
-What did the U.S. do to end the war with Japan in 1945?
-Do you think this was the best way to end the war? Why or why not?

5. Explain to students what a newspaper editorial is and share an example of one.

6. Tell students to write an editorial about the atomic bombings that ended the U.S. war with Japan.

7. Ask students to write from the perspective of a Japanese survivor of the bombings or an American citizen.

8. Assign half of the students to write from one perspective and the other half to write from the other.

9. Share the Editorial Assessment Checklist with students. (See Associated File)

10. Give students time to work on editorials.

11. Put students in pairs to read editorials. Each pair should have editorials reflecting both perspectives. Tell pairs to read editorials to each other.

12. Ask pairs to use the Editorial Assessment Checklist on their partnerís editorial.

13. Follow up with a class discussion in which a few volunteers share their editorials with the whole class.


Use the Editorial Assessment Checklist (See Associated File) to formatively assess the studentís understanding that the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are subject to different interpretations.


This lesson may be modified for specific learners by having lists of important words available for students to use as they write their editorials.

Web Links

This site can be used as an independent learning activity if the class is arranged in learning centers or if students have free time.
Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes

This site can be used as a small-group activity. Depending on how many computers are available, groups may alternate using the site as a learning center, or the entire class can work at the same time if computers are available.
Attack on Hiroshima

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