Teacher's Guide
Grade Levels: PreK–2  



*Theme Overview
*National Standards Correlations
*Thematic Activities

Theme Overview
The theme of heroes allows for a range of activities across the curriculum and has broad popularity with teachers and students. This theme also incorporates activities related to two important events in February — Black History Month and Presidents' Day. You may choose to create a theme for your classroom that incorporates most or all of the activities or select just one or two to support your own curriculum needs.

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National Standards Correlations

The activities in this unit support a variety of national standards across the curriculum. Every activity supports a subset of the standards listed below.

Relevant standards for English/Language Arts as stated by the International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English:

· Read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world.

· Use a variety of technological and informational resources to gather and synthesize information to create and communicate knowledge.

· Participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literary communities.

· Use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (learning, enjoyment, and exchange of information).

Relevant thematic strands as set forth in the Curriculum Standards for Social Studies of the National Council for the Social Studies:

· Culture: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of culture and cultural diversity.

· Time, Continuity, and Change: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time.

· People, Places, and Environments: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of people, places, and environments.

· Individual Development and Identity: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of individual development and identity.

· Individuals, Groups, and Institutions: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of interactions among individuals, groups, and institutions.

· Civic Ideals and Practices: Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic.

Relevant standards for math instruction as set forth by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics:

· Acquire confidence in using mathematics meaningfully.

· Understand the attribute of time.

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Thematic Activities

Breaking the Color Barrier: Trailblazers
To celebrate Black History Month, invite students to learn about African-American trailblazers using this online activity. Students can explore a time line of African-American pioneers in different fields and even nominate their own trailblazers.

Learning Objectives

By participating in these activities, students will:

· learn about African-American pioneers;

· recognize the pattern of expanding civil rights and liberties throughout American history;

· read for information;

· use visual cues and context to read new words;

· practice descriptive writing;

· explore related Web sites;

· utilize a time line;

· recognize that many individuals have helped shape American history.


  1. This activity can be introduced with a class discussion about heroes. What makes a person a hero? Students can also be asked to name heroes or other important people who have made a difference in history or in their own lives. This time line focuses on one particular type of hero — those who were the first to achieve in their particular fields.
  2. Explore the time line with your students. The reading level may be too advanced for students to read on their own, but the short biographies are well-suited to being read aloud. Through these biographies, students learn about African-American women and men who have broken the color barrier in a variety of professions.
  3. Invite students to visit other Web sites, go to the school library, or use classroom resources you provide to learn more about these and other African-American heroes.
  4. Students can then write about a barrier breaker they admire and why this individual deserves to be included in the Trailblazers Honor Roll. Students can submit their nominations electronically to Scholastic.

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Internet Field Trip — Great Sites for Presidents' Day

While the Internet can serve as a rich resource for students, finding useful sites can be difficult. The sites described in this Internet Field Trip can help you prepare for Presidents' Day or for a unit on the presidency. They could also be used as resources for additional research or individual projects.

Learning Objectives

By participating in this Internet Field Trip, students will:

· identify important presidents in American history;

· compare and contrast different presidents;

· present research findings in written or oral form;

· use the Internet to obtain information.


Follow the instructions included in the Internet Field Trip itself. Before directing your students to these sites, you may want to preview them to decide which would be the most appropriate for your class. As an extension, invite students to select one president: Washington, Lincoln, or another. With assistance, students can use information from the Web sites in this field trip or from other sites to choose one interesting or unusual fact about that president and present it to the class.

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An Important Coin

United States coins and bills carry pictures of famous Americans. The Susan B. Anthony dollar was the first American currency to have a picture of a woman on it.

Learning Objectives

By participating in this activity, students will:

· discuss the qualities of American leaders;

· identify important people in American history.


  1. Invite students to look at the front and back of the Susan B. Anthony dollar on the reproducible. If available, students could also examine the coins themselves.
  2. Collect a variety of U.S. coins and bills of various denominations. Can students identify who is on each one? Discuss how each of these individuals contributed to American history. Then, discuss Susan B. Anthony's accomplishments. Why is she a good person to appear on the dollar coin? What does she have in common with other Americans whose faces appear on money?
  3. Ask students to think of other ways we honor important people (e.g., stamps, statues, street names, etc.)
  4. Invite students to complete the reproducible by creating a coin for someone they feel is important.
  5. If appropriate, explain that the Susan B. Anthony dollar is going out of circulation because it was too similar in size and color to the quarter. It is being replaced by the Sacajawea dollar, which will have a gold color. Discuss Sacajawea and why she should be honored on a coin.

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From the Wilderness to the White House

Abraham Lincoln is one of many famous Americans who came from humble beginnings. This time line can be used to study Lincoln's life, from his birth in a log cabin to his term as president.

Learning Objectives

By participating in this activity, students will:

· create a time line;

· identify important events in Lincoln's life;

· recognize the contributions of Lincoln to American history.


Follow the instructions included with the reproducible. As an extension, students can use library or Internet resources to find out about the lives of other American heroes, such as George Washington or Martin Luther King, Jr. They can then use these facts to create their own time lines.


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Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream

Martin Luther King, Jr. is an American whose legacy continues to be felt in our lives today. This mini-book serves as an excellent introduction to the life of this hero of the civil rights movement.

Learning Objectives

By participating in this activity, students will:

· increase content-area vocabulary;

· recognize an important leader in American history;

· be introduced to the civil rights movement;

· recognize that individuals from many ethnic and cultural backgrounds have contributed to American history.


  1. Follow the directions included to make the mini-books and distribute them to your students. Read the books as a class.
  2. Invite students to color in their mini-books.
  3. If time permits, use some of the extension activities included with the mini-book, such as discussing the inspirational life and dreams of Dr. King, writing about students' own dreams for the country, and making posters commemorating this great man.

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Fire Gear

Heroes aren't just people who lived long ago or far away. Some heroes may live in your own neighborhood.

Learning Objectives

By participating in this activity, students will:

· recognize that any individual can be a hero;

· learn about equipment used by fire fighters.


  1. Introduce this activity with a class discussion about what kinds of heroes live in your students' hometown. Can students think of any heroes that they've ever seen or met? Have students ever seen a fire truck or visited a fire station?
  2. Distribute the reproducible to your class. Younger students may need extra assistance to complete the reproducible.
  3. Can students think of other "everyday" heroes? What makes these people heroes?
  4. As an extension, invite a fire fighter, or another local hero, to visit the class. If this is not possible, students could write a class letter to thank them for their contribution to the community or ask questions to find out more about their work.

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Jean Fritz Booklist

Looking for additional resources on American heroes? Here's a list of books written by Jean Fritz and related videos.

Learning Objectives

By using these resources, students will:

· recognize that groups have leaders;

· identify important men and women who have contributed to American history.


While the reading level of most of Jean Fritz's books is somewhat advanced for the early primary grades, the books serve well for reading aloud to an entire class or to small groups. A number of the books have been made into Weston Woods videos as well, which work well for younger children learning about heroes. In conjunction with this month's theme, a special offer is available for these videos. Please see below for ordering information.

As extension activities based on these books and videos, you might want to have a dress-up day, where students come dressed as their favorite hero from a Jean Fritz book. Students could even act out their favorite scenes from the books. If your class is studying other American heroes, students could create their own Jean Fritz-style titles and book covers for those heroes.



Here are some additional resources available from Scholastic that you could use to further develop your "Heroes" unit.

Famous Americans: George Washington & Abraham Lincoln
Activities, Literature Links, and Poster
by Maria Fleming
This lively theme unit includes biographical information, poems, songs, stories, cross-curricular activities, hands-on reproducibles, and a teaching poster.
WJZ-53550-1, 56 pp., Grades 1–3

Famous Americans: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Activities, Literature Links, and Primary Source Material
by Maria Fleming
An essential resource to help young learners understand Martin Luther King, Jr., and the role he played in shaping our country's history.
WJZ-53545-5, 56 pp., Grades 1–3

Abe Lincoln's Hat
by Martha Brenner, Illustrated by Donald Cook
This lively biography introduces young readers to Lincoln and reveals how he kept important papers in his tall black hat.
RZB62187, 48 pp., Grades K–3

The Book of Black Heroes from A to Z
by Wade Hudson and Valerie Wilson Wesley
Photographs and one-page profiles introduce students to 48 important African Americans from the past.
RZB45757, Paperback, 64 pp., Grades PreK–4
RZB27180, Innovations Teaching Guide

George Washington: A Picture Book Biography
by James Cross Giblin, Illustrated by Michael Dooling
RZB48101, 48 pp., Grades PreK–3

Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King
by Jean Marzollo, Illustrated by J. Brian Pinkney
Celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. with this fact-filled account in an easy-to-read format.
RZB44066, Paperback, 32 pp., Grades PreK–2
RZB57423, Big Book & Teaching Guide

Feliz cumpleaños, Martin Luther King
RZB47507, Spanish Paperback
RZB57574, Spanish Big Book

I'm Going to Be a Fire Fighter
by Edith Kunhardt Davis
Readers meet Holly and her father, a fire fighter, as they learn important information about fire safety and equipment.
RZB25483, 32 pp., Grades PreK–2

I'm Going to Be a Police Officer
by Edith Kunhardt Davis
Michelle and David watch their father as he goes about his daily work as a police officer.
RZB25485, 32 pp., Grades PreK–2

A Picture Book of Benjamin Franklin
by David Adler, Illustrated by John & Alexandra Wallner
Here are fascinating particulars of the great American statesman, inventor, scientist, writer, and printer.
RZB55906, 32 pp., Grades PreK–3

A Picture Book of Harriet Tubman
by David Adler, Illustrated by Samuel Byrd
This book describes the life and accomplishments of the woman who led slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.
RZB47107, 32 pp., Grades 14

A Picture Book of Jesse Owens
by David Adler, Illustrated by Robert Casilla
This book chronicles the life of American sports hero Jesse Owens, a noted figure in the fight for human equality.
RZB49439, 32 pp., Grades 14

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr.
by David Adler, Illustrated by Robert Casilla
A sensitive, accurate, accessible portrayal of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement.
RZB43611, 32 pp., Grades PreK–3

Un libro illustrado sobre Martin Luther King, hijo
RZB905209, Spanish paperback

To order any of the resources above, call 1-800-SCHOLASTIC and use the item numbers provided.


The following Jean Fritz videos are an ideal way to expand your Heroes unit. During the month of February, they are available at the Web special price of $14.95 each! For ordering information about Weston Woods videos, call 1-800-243-5020.

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln
by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Charles Robinson
The story of one of the most famous (and shortest) speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address.
Weston Woods video
IMPV428V, 18 minutes

And Then What Happened, Paul Revere?
by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margot Tomes
Paul Revere comes to life in this detailed story of what he did before, between, and after his patriotic adventures.
Weston Woods video
IMMPV478V, 30 minutes

Shh! We're Writing the Constitution!
by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Tomie dePaola
An introduction to the delegates at the 1787 summer convention in Philadelphia.
Weston Woods video
IFOV489V, 31 minutes

What's the Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margot Tomes
Ben Franklin's joy of living, humor, and genius will capture children's attention and spark their interest in American history.
Weston Woods video
IMPV476V, 30 minutes

Where Do You Think You're Going, Christopher Columbus?
by Jean Fritz, Illustrated by Margot Tomes
This lively narration provides a colorful portrait of the man who staunchly led his men across the Ocean Sea.
Weston Woods video
IMPV483V, 32 minutes

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