Universal Children's Day Teacher Lesson Plan

Share the importance of Universal Children's Day with your students. Bring classrooms to life with MY HERO's Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Teachers. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

Universal Children's Day Lesson Plan
Credit: MY HERO


Universal Children's Day promotes international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.

On November 20, 1959, the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child.



Films Appropriate for Upper Elementary, Middle and High School Students Celebrating Young People Making a Positive Difference in the World


The Secret of Trees

Produced by:Albert Maysles

13-year-old Aiden realized that trees use a mathematical formula to gather sunlight in crowded forests. He wondered why we don't collect solar energy the same way.

The Last Straw

Lynne Cherry

Nine-year-old Milo Cress is concerned about the millions of straws that pollute waterways, waste fossil-fuel resource and harm ocean creatures. 

Young Voices for the Planet - Plant for the Planet

Produced by:Lynne Cherry
Felix from Germany is inspired by Wangari Maathai's work to plant trees with his fellow pupils.

Words Have Power

Produced by:Lynne Cherry

10-year-old Jaysa rallies the community.

10-year-old Jaysa rallies the community with her speeches about how the power plant causes asthma and “so much suffering.” When they succeed in shutting down the plant, Jaysa concludes that “words have power.”

This film is appropriate for upper elementary, middle and high school students. Use the Lesson Plan, organized by grade level, with students to enhance their learning. 

Words Have Power Social Justice Lesson Plan

By: Laura Nietzer
Resources Organized by Grade Level

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. Aiden came up with a new idea regarding solar energy. Research solar energy in your community and those making new discoveries for alternative energy sources. 

2.  Milo Cress demonstrates that young people can make a positive difference. How can you encourage others not to use straws?

3. Wangari Maathai inspired Felix from Germany. Who inspires you? Share his or her story with MY HERO.

4. Identify young people making a positive difference in your own community or globally. Who inspires you? How can you get involved? Share his or her story with MY HERO.

5. How can you make a difference in an issue important to you? Create an action plan, get others involved, and share the story of your efforts with MY HERO. 


Students Learn about Young Heroes Through Story, Film and Art and Consider the Discussion Questions and Activities


Students read the story to learn more about climate activist Greta Thunberg, who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 16. She exemplifies the heroic traits of courage and perseverance. Greta started out protesting alone and ignited a global youth climate movement.

The story includes a link to Greta's Ted talk. 


Greta Thunberg

By: MY HERO Staff

On the first day, Greta Thunberg, a climate activist with aspbergers, protested outside of Swedish Parliament alone. Now, she's leading 1.5 million students globally.


Students watch the following film and read the story to learn about Vivienne Harr who, at the age of 8, founded Make a Stand Lemon-Aid to raise funds for organizations that fight child slavery.



Producer: Diane Namm

Young Vivienne Harr was deeply affected by the story of children suffering from human trafficking. So she founded Make a Stand Lemon-aid to raise fund for organizations that fight child slavery.

Vivienne Harr

By: Sue Glader

Vivienne Harr founded Make a Stand Lemon-aid to raise fund for organizations that fight child slavery.


Students read the story about Iqbal Masih, a child from Pakistan who was sold into slavery by his father when he was 4 and escaped slavery at the age of 10. He began speaking internationally and was awarded the Reebok Human Rights Youth Award when he was 12 years old.  


Iqbal Masih

By: Stephanie and Audrey<br> from Forest Hills

Iqbal Masih was a brave advocate for child labor laws in Pakistan.

Iqbal Masih by Sydney from Laguna Beach

Iqbal Masih was a Pakistani Christian boy who became a symbol of abusive child labour in the developing world


Students read the story about Samantha Smith, a grade school student and peace activist. Then analyze the portrait by Robert Shetterly, noticing the text used in the portrait. 


Samantha Smith

By: Abbie from Taipei

Story about Samantha Smith.

Samantha Smith

Samantha Reed Smith (June 29, 1972 – August 25, 1985) was an American girl who became known as "America's Youngest Ambassador" in the United States and the "Goodwill Ambassador" in the Soviet Union during her short lifetime.


She wrote : "If we could be friends by just getting to know each other better, then what are our countries really arguing about? Nothing could be more important than not having a war if a war could kill everything."

Grade school student and peace activist, (1972 - 1985) Samantha was just 10 years old when she wrote the premier of the Soviet Union to ask him about his intentions for waging war. Yuri Andropov invited her to visit the Soviet Union and the success of her trip launched a 3 year odyssey of traveling the world, advocating for peace. Tragically, she and her father were killed in a plane wreck while returning home after one of their numerous peace missions.


Americans Who Tell the Truth is sponsoring The Samantha Smith Challenge. The Samantha Smith Challenge (SSC) is a dynamic educational program for middle and high school students that uses the creative arts to build a bridge between the classroom and the world as students become compassionate, courageous, and engaged citizens. SSC projects teach students that, no matter what age, they can be part of solving the challenges and problems they see around them and work for the common good.


Students read the story to learn about Sadako Sasaki, who was two years old when an American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima near her home. Sadako inspired an international peace movement. Then analyze the artwork noticing the use of text. 


Sadako Sasaki

By: Amanda E.

Sadako Sasaki inspired an international peace movement.

Sadako Sasaki

By: Saint George

Sadako Sasaki was a Japanese girl who was two years old when an American atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, near her home next to the Misasa Bridge.


Students learn about Malala Yousafzai by reading the following stories, analyzing the artwork and watching the film trailer. 


Malala Yousafzai: The One With a Voice

By: Alex Zakoor

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for girls' education and the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala Yousafzai

By: Jane Wallace

Malala Yousafzai speaks out for the rights of girls to have an education. This story has both text and audio. 

Malala by Marilyn Huerta

By: Marilyn Huerta

Malala the young activist who champions girls' education worldwide is painted by Marilyn Huerta

Malala Yousafzai by Avery from Cochrane

By: Avery

Malala has really impressed this student with her bravery and unselfish nature. She acts courageously to help other young women

He Named Me Malala - Official Trailer

Produced by:Laurie MacDonald

HE NAMED ME MALALA is a portrait of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai.

Discussion Questions and Activities

1. Each of the young people featured have made a positive difference. How are these heroes alike? How are they different?

2. Which of these causes is important to you: climate change, ending child slavery, global peace, access to education for all, or another global issue? Research others working towards a solution and share their story with MY HERO.

3. Identify an issue that is important to you or your community. What can you do? Create an action plan, get others involved and share the story of your efforts with MY HERO.

Additional Stories about Young People Who Have Made a Difference

Nkosi Johnson

Nkosi Johnson was an orphan infected by HIV who spoke out on behalf of children with AIDS.

Nkosi Johnson (español)


Nkosi Johnson (French)


Emma González

By: Nikki F.

Emma González survived the Parkland high school shooting and successfully fought for improved gun legislation in Florida.

Alexandra Scott

By: Anna Feng

Alexandra Scott raised money for cancer research through her nationwide lemonade stands.

Great for ESL/EFF Students: the Following Stories are Available in Text and Audio so Students Can Listen & Read Along

Bilaal Rajan

By: Sean from Richmond Hill

Bilaal Rajan is the founder of Making Change Now and Canada's child ambassador to UNICEF.

Ruby Nell Bridges

By: Madison

One of the most important heroes in the fight against segregation in America was a six-year-old girl, Ruby Nell Bridges.

Ana Dodson

Ana Dodson formed Peruvian Hearts to provide Peruvian orphans an education.

Discussion Questions and Activity

1. How are these activists examples of how one person can make a difference regardless of his or her age? What issues did you feel a connection to and why?

2. What are important issues facing your community or the world that you feel passionate about? What can you do? Create an action plan, get others involved and share your story with MY HERO.

3. Who are young activists in your own community making a difference? Share their story with MY HERO.

Learning Objectives

Students will identify an issue that is important to them and create an action plan. Students will develop critical thinking skills as they work towards solutions. Students will understand that one person can make a difference. 


Laura Nietzer

The Universal Children's Day lesson plan was created by MY HERO Education Outreach Director Laura Nietzer.

MY HERO Related Resources

Global Youth Service Day Lesson Plan

By: Laura Nietzer

Classroom activity focusing on Global Youth Service Day celebrating youth who exercise their civic rights and to help youth identify a problem in their own community and solve them.

Malala Yousafzai Lesson Plan

By: Laura Nietzer

MY HERO celebrates the courage and strong principles of this young student from Pakistan who taught the world how to take a stand against injustice. 

International Day of the Girl Child Lesson Plan

By: Laura Nietzer

Multimedia Resources and Lesson Plan for Elementary, Middle and High School Students. Includes discussion guide and learning outcomes.

External Links

Learn about a New Hero Every Day of the Year: Visit the MY HERO Calendar

Students: Share Your Hero Essays, Films and Art through our Create Program

Outstanding essays submitted to MY HERO will be considered for a certificate/t-shirt prize or be featured on the Story Homepage.

Submit your artwork to be entered in the MY HERO art contest or to be exhibited on our Gallery Homepage.

Students can submit their films for free with a waiver to the MY HERO International Film Festival.

Organizer created on 10/1/2019 1:01:47 PM by Laura Nietzer

Last edited 11/18/2021 10:42:05 AM by Laura Nietzer