Inside Stories: Unmasking the Superhero

Your lesson will take place in the American Comic Book Heroes exhibit. After exploring the concept of character development, students will consider the everyday challenges that superheroes face. Students investigate what it might really be like to be “behind the mask” and then develop their own heroic dialogue bubbles in an activity sure to strengthen reading and writing super powers.

Lesson extensions for before or after your visit

The following activities are designed for your class to enjoy before or after your museum visit. Familiarizing students with the lesson concepts can enrich your museum experience.

Lyrical hero hunt

Discuss the qualities of a hero (or heroine). Create a list of different traits a hero should have. Encourage students to give examples of how each trait defines a hero.

For homework, challenge students to find a song that celebrates the qualities of a hero. Invite students to share songs back at school, through IPods, written lyrics, or their own performance.

Hero-of-the-Year stamp

Ask students to pretend that they are stamp designers on the Citizen Stamp Advisory Committee. Imagine that the United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to make a collection of commemorative hero stamps. Have students research different heroes and choose one that they think should be put on a Hero-of-the-Year stamp. Students should design a stamp honoring their hero and write a persuasive letter to USPS suggesting their stamp be created.

Be a hero

Many students call actors, comedians, singers, and sports figures their heroes. Because it is difficult to excel in these careers, it can be difficult for students to imagine themselves as heroes. The ability to recognize and value the potential hero within themselves and others in their school, family, or community is an important factor in a student’s self esteem. Read students the following paraphrased quote from Peter Parker’s (a.k.a. Spider-Man) Aunt May and discuss what it means:

“I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to [live] with pride.”

Students can feel good about themselves by helping others. Contact a local social service agency or animal shelter. Ask what things your students can collect to help them (towels or rugs for an animal shelter; blankets or clothing for a homeless shelter; new teddy bears for children in the hospital or for police to offer children at emergency scenes).

Have students create a flier describing what they are collecting, why, and how to donate. Distribute fliers throughout your community. Have collection bins set up at the school and throughout the community. Contact local media about the project.

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