The Lost Children of Sudan | EL Education Curriculum

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ELA 2019 G7:M1

The Lost Children of Sudan

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Required Purchase Availability

NOTE: We are aware that there are challenges to ordering and availability of the DVD of "God Grew Tired of Us," a required purchase for Grade 7: Module 1 in the Second Edition 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum. For the 2021-22 school year, we have created alternative versions of the affected lessons, based on online clips from the film that are accessible for free online. The alternate lessons are available via downloadable zip file here: Adapted Unit 2 - Lesson 1, Lesson 2, and Lessons 5-6.

What can we learn from those who have survived the greatest tragedies and become even more determined to help others? How can we share these kinds of stories to inspire and educate? In this module, students develop their ability to analyze narratives and create their own stories as they learn about the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan and the lessons revealed through their journeys.

Students begin Unit 1 reading the novel A Long Walk to Water. The focus of the reading is on how the setting shapes the characters and plot, how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters in the text, and how themes are developed throughout the story. As they analyze and discuss the text, students also create discussion norms in order to have productive discussions about the text at the end of the unit.

Students begin Unit 2 researching to answer the questions generated while reading A Long Walk to Water during Unit 1, including questions about the Lost Girls of Sudan. While researching, they determine two or more central ideas in informational texts and provide objective summaries of them. Students also watch clips of the documentary God Grew Tired of Us about The Lost Boys of the Sudan, analyzing the main ideas and supporting details and explaining how the ideas clarify what they have been researching. In the second half of the unit, students write a compare and contrast essay looking at how an informational text about the Lost Children of Sudan and the novel treat similar subject matter.

Students begin Unit 3 comparing A Long Walk to Water to the audiobook version of the text, exploring how authors and readers develop tone, mood, and expression. Students draw on this exploration as they start the second half of the unit, planning and then writing a narrative children's ebook about a Lost Boy or Girl of Sudan. Through mini lessons and independent planning work, students focus on developing characters, settings, plot points, and narrative techniques such as pacing, description, and dialogue. For their performance task, students refine their narratives and convert them into ebooks to publish and share with others, especially elementary school children.

Notes from the Designer

A Long Walk to Water contains references to sensitive topics such as war (including the violent death of family members and children), displacement, family separation, hunger, dehydration (including death from lack of water), refugee camps, violent deaths from wild animals, and serious illness of family members. These issues must be carefully and sensitively discussed to give students context as they read the story. Speak with students and families in advance, especially those who may have sensitivity to topics discussed.

The ebook edition of Nasreen's Secret School is used as a model for the Grade 7: Module 1 Performance Task, for which students create an illustrated ebook to share with a younger audience. If students will be completing this task using digital tools, the ebook should be procured as a model. If digital tools for the Performance Task are unavailable, a copy of the print edition (978-1416994374) can be substituted to support students in making a picture book on paper.

Guiding Questions and Big Ideas

Who are the Lost Children of Sudan, and what is their story?

  • The second Sudanese civil war displaced millions of people, including hundreds of thousands of Lost Boys and thousands of Lost Girls who walked through Southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of a safe haven.
  • Some of the Lost Boys were sent to the United States to begin new lives in safety.
  • Most of the Lost Girls remained in the refugee camps, many of them working as unpaid servants for refugee families and/or being married off against their will.

What are the habits of character the Lost Children used to survive?

  • The Lost Children persevered to overcome the hardships of war, starvation, thirst, displacement, and threats by wild animals. Many of them show respect, empathy, and integrity as they help each other survive these same hardships. Some of them have also become leaders in the United States or in their home country (like Salva and his organization Water for South Sudan), using their strengths to help others grow, helping care for their environment and shared spaces, and using their learning to do so.
  • In Sudan there are water scarcity issues, which means many people do not have easy access to clean water. As a result, most girls and women persevere to walk all day to get water. They also show empathy and respect as they care for others as many people get sick from dirty water, which is the only water readily available.

Content Connections

This module is designed to address English Language Arts standards and to be taught during the literacy block. But the module intentionally incorporates Social Studies content that may align to additional teaching during other parts of the day. These intentional connections are described below.

College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

  • D1.5.6-8. Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of views represented in the sources.
  • D2.Civ.6.6-8. Describe the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people's lives.
  • D2.Geo.2.6-8. Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
  • D2.Geo.4.6-8. Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
  • D2.Geo.6.6-8. Explain how the physical and human characteristics of places and regions are connected to human identities and cultures.
  • D2.His.1.6-8. Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
  • D3.1.6-8. Gather relevant information from multiple sources while using the origin, authority, structure, context, and corroborative value of the sources to guide the selection.
  • D3.2.6-8. Evaluate the credibility of a source by determining its relevance and intended use.
  • D4.2.6-8. Construct explanations using reasoning, correct sequence, examples, and details with relevant information and data, while acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of the explanations.
  • D4.3.6-8. Present adaptations of arguments and explanations on topics of interest to others to reach audiences and venues outside the classroom using print and oral technologies (e.g., posters, essays, letters, debates, speeches, reports, and maps) and digital technologies (e.g., internet, social media, and digital documentary).
  • D4.5.6-8. Critique the structure of explanations. 
  • D4.6.6-8. Draw on multiple disciplinary lenses to analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.
  • D4.7.6-8. Assess their individual and collective capacities to take action to address local, regional, and global problems, taking into account a range of possible levers of power, strategies, and potential outcomes.

Independent Research Reading

  • The ability to read and comprehend texts is the heart of literacy instruction. Comprehension is taught, reinforced, and assessed in the module lessons.
  • In this module, students read research texts independently for homework. For accountability, students draw on this research to answer questions they generate about the novel.

Technology and Multimedia

  • Online word processingCompleting note-catchers. Students complete their note-catchers and write their essays and narratives.
  • Speech-to-text/text-to-speechAiding students in reading, writing, and note-taking. Students listen to audio (or text-to-speech) versions of texts to assist with fluency and comprehension. They also use speech-to-text technology to assist with writing and note-taking.
    • Many newer devices already have this capability; there are also free apps for this purpose.
  • Online illustrationCreating images online. Students create images for their ebooks.
  • Free stock image resourcesDownloading/using images. Students search for and download images for use in their ebooks.
  • Ebook creation platformBuilding ebooks. Students convert their narratives into ebooks.

Refer to each Unit Overview for more details, including information about what to prepare in advance.

Optional: Community, Experts, Fieldwork, Service, and Extensions


  • The novel relates the stories of those displaced by war and, more broadly, refugees who emigrated to America. Consider contacting local aid groups or other associations to arrange meetings with refugees or recent immigrants willing to share their stories with students.


  • Refugees and immigrants are experts of their own stories and would be a valuable resource to students. Consider inviting children's-book authors or illustrators or people with expertise in creating ebooks to assist students with their narratives and performance tasks.


  • Bringing students to cultural centers or meeting places for individuals from different countries and backgrounds could be a valuable experience in orienting students to a variety of cultural experiences. Students may also have the opportunity to meet individuals who can share their stories with them.
  • Since a central focus of the novel is on water scarcity and technology to retrieve water, students can visit water-treatment facilities in their own communities to begin thinking about the role water plays in their lives and how it is delivered to them.


  • There are many initiatives related to A Long Walk to Water and the water issues in Sudan and elsewhere. Students can take up the challenge to raise money or awareness for these initiatives, or they can investigate ways to be of service to refugee families more generally.


  • Throughout the module, students are provided with extension opportunities in the context of the classroom, but students eager to expand their engagement with the topic can record videos of their interviews with community members and work on "mini documentaries" or write stories of the people they interview in order to share with larger audiences.


Each unit file includes supporting materials for teachers and students, including guidance for supporting English language learners throughout the unit.


Each unit in the 6-8 Language Arts Curriculum has two standards-based assessments built in, one mid-unit assessment and one end of unit assessment. The module concludes with a performance task at the end of Unit 3 to synthesize students' understanding of what they accomplished through supported, standards-based writing.

Performance Task

Illustrated Ebook: Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan

Throughout Unit 3, students plan, write, and revise a narrative for third-grade students telling the story of a Lost Boy or Girl of Sudan. For the performance task, students create an illustrated ebook for their narrative with an informative foreword explaining the context of the story (the second Sudanese civil war) and the habits of character evident in the story they have written.


Texts and Resources to Buy

Texts and resources that need to be procured. Please download the Required Trade Books and Resources Procurement List for procurement guidance.

Text or Resource Quantity ISBNs
Nasreen’s Secret School
by Jeanette Winter
One per classroom
ISBN: 9781442441217
Brothers in Hope
by Mary Williams
One per classroom
ISBN: 9781584302322
God Grew Tired of Us (DVD)
by Christopher Quinn (director)
One per classroom
ISBN: 0043396198999
A Long Walk to Water (Audiobook)
by Linda Sue Park
One per classroom
ISBN: 9781501237553
A Long Walk to Water
by Linda Sue Park
One per student
ISBN: 9780547577319


Each module is approximately 6-8 weeks of instruction, broken into 3 units. The Module-at-a-Glance charts, available on the grade level landing pages, provide a big picture view of the module, breaking down the module into a week-by-week outline. It shows how the module unfolds, the focus of each week of instruction, and where the six assessments and the performance task occur.


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