Ms. Marshall's Second Grade Class
Cumberland  Elementary School
Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin

John Henry, An American Legend  by Ezra Jack Keats

After reading John Henry as a read aloud, the class decided to rewrite the ending so that the hero, John Henry would live on to do many more wonderful feats with his two hammers.

We also discussed the qualities that made John Henry so special as a hero and thought about their own qualities that make them special.

Our activity was to compare John Henry’s qualities and to list their own special qualities.

Here is our new version of John Henry:

John Henry was an American Hero. He was born with a hammer in each hand. As a baby he was so strong that he would lift furniture to help his mom clean around the house. As he grew he would take his hammers and knock down trees and break them into firewood for his dad to sell.

 John Henry was good and kind even though he looked strong and gigantic. He never walked by someone with helping them out. When he heard about the new railroad being built across America, he took his hammers and went to help put down the tracks.

 He even beat the steam drilling machine in digging a road through a mountain of rock. It wore him out so bad that he passed out and slept for 2 weeks. When the President heard about how strong and fast he was, he hired John Henry to do some jobs for our country. Here’s a list of what he did:

  • He hammered out the Presidents’ heads on Mount Rushmore.

  • He dug out huge canyons in the Grand Canyon.

  •  He hammered a road through a gigantic redwood tree in California. 

To us John Henry is our American Hero!


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