Purpose of the project:
Learning about Japan's culture, traditions, geography, and ways of life
is fascinating and extremely educational. Students begin by brainstorming what they
already know, and questions about Japan that they would like answered. They view a number of videos that bring them into the lives of modern day
Japanese people. This Eastern culture is explored as children visit wonderful
web sites on the Internet.
Visits to a Japanese tea ceremony, the bonsai gardens at the Botanical
Gardens, and the Noguchi sculpture garden are other enriching experiences for the children. They learn calligraphy as they write Japanese characters
with brush paint. Art and math are incorporated through origami projects. Literature readings of The Big Wave and Sadako and A Thousand Paper Cranes bring the children into
the lives and tribulations of their Japanese counterparts.
The unit culminates with the students conducting
research on various topics
of Japan and creating a variety of projects, such as a travel brochure, a class test, or
Jeopardy questions for a class game
Standards addressed by this unit:
1. Students will study about how people live, work, and utilize natural
2. Students will gather and organize information from a variety of
sources and display in a number of ways.
3. Students read and comprehend informational materials to develop
understanding and expertise and produce written work that: (a) restates or summarizes information;
(b) relates new information to prior knowledge and experience; (c) extends ideas; and
(d) makes connections to related topics and information.
4. The students produce evidence that demonstrates the understanding of
changes in Earth, such as changes caused by volcanism and earthquakes.
Software materials used:
Variety of videos and CD-ROMs
About 150 third grade students from 5 classes of mixed ability levels
were involved in this project. They worked in pairs and small cooperative groups
throughout the unit on various activities and the research projects.
The students really immersed themselves in
the study of the various aspects of Japan. They enjoyed the trips and learned a lot of interesting information that
motivated them in their research. Integrating the arts, math, and science added dimension to the unit study. Exploring the
web sites on Japan captured their attention and enriched their communication skills with peers
and adults in group discussions.
Computer skills and Internet access are very useful throughout this
project. Field trips help to immerse the students in hands-on experiences. Integrating language arts, math, art, science, and social studies generates
lots of great activities and projects. The Land of the Rising Sun is truly fascinating!!!
Allison Okun has been teaching at P.S. 6 for 9 years in 2nd, 3rd, and
4th grade. Presently, she is the math staff developer. Her classes were part of an inclusion project with the resource room teacher.
Estimated class periods to complete: 10 or more
Subject areas: Social Studies;
Beginning grade level: 3
Ending grade level: 3