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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Sadako’s Paper Cranes



Students learn about the tragic legacy of the bomb through arts and crafts.





Eleanor Coerr’s picture book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes tells the true story of Sadako Sasaki, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima when she was 2 years old but who later developed leukemia, perhaps as a result of the bomb’s lingering radiation. In an attempt to get better, she set out to fold 1,000 origami cranes, which according to an ancient Japanese legend gives the maker of the cranes a single wish.

Read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes together and have students make cranes like those that Sadako folded. Discuss the effects that radiation had on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Students may wish to do additional research about Sadako’s life and other survivors of the atomic bombs. A number of lesson plans related to the story are available here.