University of Vermont

Creating a Peace Tree

Fourth grade students at Maple Street School create paper cranes to honor Sadako

Fourth grade students at Maple Street school create paper cranes for the peace tree.

After reading the book, "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" with her students, Whitney Bellingham, the fourth grade teacher at Maple Street School and UVM alumni with an elementary education degree, gave her students the chance to honor of Sadako and world peace by creating origami paper cranes. The director of the Japan Institute, Michiko Oishi, visited the school to help the students with the complicated paper folding task and to explain aspects of Japanese culture and tradition.

"I love the art of creating paper cranes." explained Ms. Bellingham, noting that the paper cranes would be attached to big tree branch, a peace tree, to honor Sadako. The peace tree and paper cranes are a part of a Japanese unit that that Ms. Bellingham developed that also includes taking the fourth grade students to Springfield Museum to attend a tea ceremony.

"Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" is the true story is of Sadako Sasaki who lived in Hiroshima at the time of the atomic bombing by the United States. She developed leukemia from the radiation and spent her time in a nursing home creating origami (folded paper) cranes in hope of making a thousand of them. She was inspired to do so by the Japanese legend that one who created a thousand origami cranes would then be granted a wish. Read the full story here.

Vermont educators can borrow copies of "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" books from the ASOP library. Educators are also invited to contact the ASOP office for information on how to create lesson plans or host a workshop on Japan.

Maple Street School is a kindergarten through eighth grade school in Manchester, providing education to students from families in Southwestern Vermont and Western New York.