Athlete Heroes Lesson Plans

athlete being carried from field on teammate's shoulders

Our students admire athletes, from their teammates in school sports to professional sports figures. Athlete heroes are a varied group, so every student can find someone he or she can admire. Use our lesson plans to work on research skills and to learn about health.

Create an ad.

Instead of an ad for soft drinks or shoes, let your athlete heroes support a character trait they embody. We put Wilma Rudolph on a cereal box to advertise persistence. Rudolph grew up in poverty, suffering from severe illnesses including polio, which left her without the use of her left leg. She wore a leg brace till age 9, learned to walk normally again by age 12, and won her first Olympic medal in track at age 16. Learn more about this heroic athlete:

Have students choose an athlete they admire and research that athlete’s life and work. They should then choose a character trait which their athlete could represent. Use any art techniques to make a cereal box ad for this character trait.

Write an essay.

Get to know the classic 5 paragraph essay form with an essay about an athlete hero. Have students research their hero and write three sentences explaining this person’s admirable traits. For example, here’s our list for climber Jordan Romero:

  • At 13, Romero became the youngest person ever to climb Mt. Everest, showing dedication to a difficult goal.
  • Romero inspired his family to join him in his goal of climbing the world’s highest mountains.
  • Romero gives credit to his family and his team, not just his own efforts.

Students should expand each of their sentences into a paragraph. Have students write each sentence at the top of a notecard and list events that show evidence for the sentence. For example, Romero’s interview at Global Green Travel has quotes in which Romero gives credit to his family and his team. Once students have a good list of evidence for their claims, they can write each one up into a paragraph.

Have students put their three paragraphs together to form the body of the essay, and add an introduction and a conclusion.

Develop goals.

Sports heroes inspire students with their dedication, persistence, and hard work. They should also be health role models. Help students learn how to create SMART goals by choosing a health goal inspired by their athletic hero.

Olympic snowboarder Hannah Teter has plenty of good health habits, but one she’s famous for is eating a healthy breakfast every day. Students who start their day with a Coke and a candy bar can learn from Hannah. Use this example for a SMART goal.

SMART stands for

  • Specific: A goal can’t be something vague like, “I want to eat better.” “I’ll eat a balanced breakfast every day” is a specific goal.
  • Measurable: Without a quantifiable goal, you can’t tell whether you succeeded or not. A healthy breakfast, according to WebMD, should contain 5 grams of protein and 5 grams of fber. That cuts out the Coke and candy bar, but still leaves plenty of options from fruit and yogurt to eggs and veggies in a whole wheat tortilla.
  • Achievable: A good goal is something the student can actually accomplish. Not all students have the capacity to win Olympic medals, but all students can make healthy breakfast choices.
  • Realistic: A SMART goal is not only within a student’s power, but can also be achieved with the resources available. Examine the breakfast choices available in your school cafeteria or in local groceries to identify realistic healthy breakfast options.
  • Timely: A goal is a dream with a timeline. Add a timeframe to the goal.

A student who chooses to follow in Hannah’s footsteps when it comes to breakfast might end up with, “I’m going to improve my health by having a balanced breakfast with 5 grams each of protein and fiber, such as the oatmeal and fruit in the cafeteria, each day beginning June 1st.”

Gather students’ goals and post them on the bulletin board.

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