American Heroes Project


As we kick off February, this week’s post is going to be just like the month itself- short and sweet! It is a follow-up to one of my previous posts on American Heroes Close Reading and Opinion Writing.

I always give my students a project to conclude our unit on American Heroes. It’s standards-based and it’s fun! Two of the things I want most in a project.

The kids get to choose their own American hero to research and write about. The writing part of the project requires them to use non-fiction text or online sources to answer  questions in complete sentences:

The kids also do an oral presentation in front of the class where they speak from their hero’s point of view. Here’s the part they really love- they get to dress in costume as their hero for the presentation! Here are some of my kids from past years:

Yes, that’s Oprah in the bottom left hand corner. Not someone we read about in our Social Studies text, but when my student asked permission I just couldn’t say no. As long as those reading, writing, and listening & speaking standards are being met, right?

Here is the grading rubric I use for their writing and oral presentations:

I’ve continued to do this project year after year, especially after tweaking it a few years ago to fit the Common Core standards. This resource includes pages that list the standards covered for first, second, and third grade. Here is the page I use for second grade:

When my class talks about our favorite memories at the end of the school year, the kids always bring up the hero project as something they’ll remember.

If you’re interested in doing this project with your class, the parent instructions (preview available in TPT listing) and grading rubrics for the project are available right here. If you’d like to bundle and save with some additional resources (such as my Close Reading & Opinion Writing and Final Draft Paper for American Heroes), you can also find it in my American Heroes Bundle.

And that’s a wrap on American Heroes!


  1. I love all of your kiddo’s costumes! What an amazing way to teach history and have your students explore what it means to be a hero. Do you have suggestions for the non-fiction texts your students use? I am trying to start a book box that includes educational texts for students ( info here: And I would love to know what books work best in your classroom to add to my list!

  2. Wow! Your kids really dressed up! I love the idea of choosing an American Hero to research and present. The students at my school do a Wax Museum in 3rd grade so I’ve been trying to think of a big memory maker for 4th grade that’s not too similar.

  3. I love this (especially Oprah)! We just did biography book reports before winter break and they were delightful! I think students understand their heroes/heroines on a much deeper level when they get into character.

  4. I absolutely love this project idea for kids. It looks like they had so much fun. I appreciate the girl who did think out-of-the-box (out-of-the-text) and asked to do Oprah! Love that! Those smiles say it all. Your lesson plan makes me think about being an elementary school teacher!

    • Thank you so much for the positive feedback! Your last sentence speaks volumes and means a lot to me! If you’re ever seriously wanting to consider teaching at the elementary level, let me know and I’d be happy to answer any questions you might have.

  5. Not only is this a wonderfully meaningful project, your results were ridiculously adorable. Thanks for not only sharing the project, but also those photos!


  6. I love that you included the standards! This is such a great project for anytime of year! It looks like your students are really into it. I’m sure they learned a ton!

  7. The smiles on the faces of these children are priceless! They will never forget this wonderful activity! Thank you so much for sharing your resource in action!


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