Social studies curriculum

Jackson and Tull’s Exploring the Earth

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Jackson and Tull’s Exploring the Earth

The Map Room. (1996). Arlington, VA: Edunetics Corp.

Music and Cultures. (1996). Clearvue/eav. Inc. and Zane Publishing Inc.

National Geographic: Picture Atlas of the World. (1995). Washington, D.C.: National Geographic


Rand McNally Children’s World Atlas. (1996). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally and Co.

The Nystrom Outline Map Library. (1997). Chicago, IL: Nystrom.

Where in the World is Carmen San Diego

Zip Zap World


African Journey: Wonder Works. Part 1 and 2; from the story by David Eames.

Kenya Safari; Video Visits. (1987). Video Travels Library. Invision Products.

Kids Explore Kenya: Chicago, IL: Clearvue Co.


Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments :

  • The following suggestions have been provided for teachers to select from as possible extension activities or enrichment for differentiated instruction. These activities are not required.

Map Skills:

  1. Identify hemispheres and regions of the world. (See World Geography; Basic not Boring, pages 13 –


  1. Use round cardboard pizza plates to create a model of the eastern and western hemispheres. Provide

students with directions as to features to include on their map such as continents, oceans, the

equator, the Tropic of Cancer, and the Tropic of Capricorn.

  1. Define geography terms and be able to find and record real examples of them in the world (See World Geography; Basic not Boring pages 10 – 11)

  1. Make a list of the continents, rank them in order by area and use the list to make comparisons.

  1. Write a paragraph on which continent they most / least would like to visit and why.

  1. Record locations / origins of tales read as part of the Folk Tale Interact Unit on a world map.

  1. Hold a “geography bee” with students competing as teams in base room or against teams from other grade five classrooms. Students can help to create geography bee questions.

  1. Participate in a “scavenger hunt” finding different geographical features on all continents. (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide p. 18).

  1. Complete activities on geographical features and map scale. (See Geography Simulations pages 8 – 10, 15 – 16 and 24 – 31)

  1. Complete activities on different regions of the world (See World Geography; Basic not Boring pages 16 – 27)

  1. Locate and label on a map the major mountains of the world. Students can create bar graphs showing heights of highest mountains in the world. (See Rand McNally student atlas pages 14 – 15)

  1. Locate and label on a map the major deserts of the world.

  1. Research the longest rivers in the world, put in a chart recording their continental location, and length from greatest to lesser. (See Geography Simulations pages 36 – 40)

  1. Create a brochure of tour locations (i.e. famous mountains, major rivers, seas of the world etc.)

  1. Create a web of Earth’s major land forms.

  1. Use CRISS Power Thinking Card activity to categorize geographical features.

  1. Find locations on maps or in an atlas using latitude and longitude coordinates or alphanumeric grids.

  • Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide pages 21 – 26

  • Teaching the Five Themes of Geography pages 4 - 5

18. Provide latitude and longitude coordinates for specific places.

19. Work with teams in a game to try to determine the name of places when provided with an

illustration and latitude / longitude coordinates.

Variation: Given the name of a country or place written on a piece of paper, students must locate their country then write clues for its location (latitude, longitude, bordering countries, bodies of water and physical features; See Rand McNally Teacher’s Edition p. 30)
20. Research famous land marks from around the world then give their latitude / longitude coordinates.

(See Teaching the Five Themes of Geography pages 6 – 16)

21. Complete a graphic organizer or two column notes on latitude / longitude. Use to write a paragraph

comparing / contrasting the two.

  1. Create an imaginary land (free hand or on a computer paint program). Their land must include a minimum of ten geographical features, a distance scale and a location grid. Students can use grids to create “treasure maps”. Direction clues can be given to classmates to help them find your treasure. The theme of the map can be based on a folk tale or fairy tale. (See also: Teaching the Five Themes of Geography pages 30 – 33)

  1. Create a travel itinerary, touring geographical features from around the world. List destinations and the route they will follow. Label locations on an outline map. List clothing and equipment they would need to take based on the climate and the environment they will visit. Students must stop at each continent once. [Challenge: Record the latitude and longitude coordinates for locations and keep track of distances traveled.] Students can create a “photo album” (illustrations) of tourist attractions or geographical features seen on their imaginary trip. Captions with factual information can be required.

  1. Read and interpret weather maps, charts, tables and graphs and use information to write weather reports for various locations and to compare climate regions of the world (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Edition pages 31-32 and Rand McNally student atlas pages 12 – 13).

  1. Match specific types of crops to climate regions of the world. (See Geography Simulations pages 47 – 49)

  1. Collect weather maps for a designated time period. Use the maps to complete a graphic organizer relating temperature of certain cities with geographical / physical features and location.

  1. Identify, describe, compare and contrast the major climate regions of the earth. Record information on a chart.

  1. Analyze how temperature, precipitation and elevation affect climate in a region.

  1. Write a paragraph / riddle using descriptions and clues about a particular climate regions. Have other students guess the region based on the clues.

  1. Internet Activity: Search for weather maps and click on an area to determine the day’s weather. Make a chart showing temperature, humidity, wind, pressure and weather throughout the day. Tell about weather patterns of an area. Try: (for forecasts)

  1. Study natural resources of the world (See Geography Simulations pages 65 – 67)

  1. Learn about the relationship between a land’s natural resources and its ability to participate in industry. (See Geography Simulations pages 71 – 77)

  1. Brainstorm and write a paragraph on how a particular geographical location can affect how people in the area live.

  1. Use population maps and almanacs to record population data and create bar graphs for comparing populations of different continents / countries / cities. Write interpretive statements.

  • World Geography; Basic not Boring pages 29

  • Rand McNally Student Atlas pages 16 – 17

  • Nystrom – GeoThemes pages 27 - 28

  1. List the three most populated continents and the three least populated continents. Choose one continent from each group and describe its land forms. Explain how those land forms affect population.

  1. Collect types of maps from newspapers, magazines etc. Post on a class bulletin board with a descriptive caption and label as to type of map.

  1. View and interpret photographs from around the world, trying to determine general location in the world. Use photos as a springboard to writing original adventure stories.

  1. View photographs from around the world labeled with the name of the place. Use an atlas to research and record five facts on their assigned topic. This could be done in teams with each team having locations on different continents.

  1. Compare features of different countries / continents using a Venn diagram or information charts. (can compare climate, population, resources, land area etc.)

  1. Learn about the movement of goods and products between countries by participating in the activity “Shipments for Sherlock”. (See Teaching the Five Themes of Geography pages 82 – 89) This involves problem solving and cooperative group efforts as students plan out best transportation routes and consider different forms of transportation.

  1. Solve geography / culture based questions of the day.

  1. Complete activities provided in the Geography Mini Centers resource packets:

  • “Kinds of Maps”

  • “Science of Geography”

  • “The Globe”

  • “Physical Features”

43. Be able to draw a map of the world without looking at a map. This can be done periodically

throughout the year to measure learning progress. (See also: World Geography; Basic not Boring page 12)

  1. Respond to geography / culture based writing prompts. (List of possible topics follows.)

Students will:

  1. Learn about geographical and cultural characteristics of Kenya by participating in the simulation Highlights Top Secret Adventures: Kenya using the Kenya puzzle book and Guide to Kenya text.

  1. Read about the geography of Kenya, then write a paragraph on where they’d like to live and why. Option: Students can create real estate ads featuring different locations in Kenya.

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya p. 7

3. Explain why most Kenyans live in highland areas.

4. Describe the coastal areas of Kenya and the nearby coral reef.
5. Create a relief map of Kenya (See A Trip Around the World p. 141)
6. Write global directions for the country of Kenya, placing it in the world in relation to landmarks such

as the equator, the Tropics, oceans, surrounding countries and nearby continents, and latitude and

7. Use a map distance scale to tell the distance from Nairobi to Mombassa.

  1. Describe the main characteristics of the Great Rift Valley and surrounding physical features. Tell about the natural forces that caused it to form (volcanoes and earthquakes). Tell what countries it passes through.

- Living Geography pages 7 and 8
9. Create a contour map of Kenya to show the Great Rift Valley and elevations of Kenya.
10. Compare and contrast the plains and highlands of Kenya in terms of animals, vegetation and soil.
11. Write a paragraph on how having a coastline helps the people of Kenya.

  1. Compare the life expectancy of people in Kenya to U.S. Explain possible reasons for the difference

(See Rand McNally student atlas p. 79)
13. Create a double line graph showing yearly temperatures and rainfall for Kenya.

  1. Describe the climate of Kenya and precipitation in different areas. Present information learned in

the form of a weather report.

15. Write a job description for becoming a herder in Kenya.

  1. Read a legend of how the Masai got their cattle. (See Africa: Customs, Cultures, Legends and Lore

p. 53)
17. Prepare a class newspaper or magazine featuring articles on various aspects of life in Kenya.

  1. Describe the life of a child in a rural Kenyan village. Students can write in the form of a diary entry

or autobiographical piece. Tell why so many Kenyan men move to Nairobi.

  1. Explain what “harambee” means in Kenya, then give an example of harambee in the Newington


  1. Compare / Contrast the top ten things kids do in Kenya with what kids do in Newington. Use a

Venn diagram. (See Internet Site: Kids Only – Africa on Line; Learn about Africa)
21. Read about city life vs. rural life in Kenya. Create a Venn Diagram to compare the two.

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya pages 15 – 16

  1. Create a diorama or mural showing life in a rural area of Kenya. Students can include huts, people

in native dress, plants and animals. (savanna, Rift Valley, Lake Nakuru)

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya p. 16

23. Write an essay comparing and contrasting daily life in Kenya to their life.

24. Research and create illustrations depicting the tribal dress of the Masai.

(See: Discovering Africa p. 3

Africa: Customs, Cultures, Legends and Lore pages 56 – 58
25. Research and design types of African huts to scale. Huts can be made from construction paper bent

into rounds. Stand it on edge and use dried grass to cover conical constructions paper roof. (See

A Trip Around the World p. 135 and Africa: Customs, Cultures, Legends and Lore p. 59)
26. Read about the art and music of Kenya then create some of their own artwork.

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya, pages 28 – 29

  • A Trip Around the World pages 143 – 144

  • Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa p. 7

  • Faces; Kenya pages 28 – 29

  • Thematic Unit: Multicultural Folk Tales p. 59

  • Create pottery samples

  • Create African masks

  • Create African jewelry / beads

  • Use dried gourds to create drums or water pitchers

  • Write a folk tale about Kenya

  • Make a bird, animal or fish headdress

  • Create African batiks on white handkerchiefs.

  • Make a kanga or kikoi

  • Africa: Customs, Cultures, Legends and Lore

- gourd carvings; pages 54 – 55, 58
27. Create African shields using large pieces of cardboard and spears using long cardboard tubes.

Decorate oval shaped shields with bold colors and tribal designs, raffia, etc. Spear heads may have

small bundles of dried grass or raffia attached. (See Discovering Africa pages 27 – 28)
28. Analyze African Proverbs:

  • Living Geography p. 19

  • Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa pages 4 - 5

29. Read about sports in Kenya. (See Time Traveler Series: Kenya pages 30 – 31)

  • Write descriptive paragraphs on specific events.

  • Write a biographical sketch of famous Kenyan athletes

  • Create a Kenyan athletes Hall of Fame

  • Learn about the Safari Rally.

30. Learn and use phrases in the Swahili language.

Create original crossword puzzles with Swahili words.

  • Living Geography pages 36 – 40

  • TCM: A Trip Around the World p. 137 – 140

  • Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa pages 14 – 15

  • Discovering Africa page 37

31. Prepare and enjoy East African foods

  • Living Geography p. 47

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya p. 17

  • Thematic Unit: Multicultural Folk Tales p. 66

32. Research then role play a Maasai dance.

33. Read about and play African games. (See Thematic Unit: Multicultural Folk Tales pages 61 - 62

  • Mankala - Jarabadch - Kuwakha

  • Ohoro - Nnunsa

34. Read about animals of East Africa and draw the animal in its natural habitat (See Living Geography

p. 31) Students can also read and take 2 column notes on poaching in Kenya and conservation

efforts. Students can prepare a speech opposing the poaching of animals and giving supportive facts

on problems that occur because of poachers.
35. Work in groups to create mobiles featuring animals of Kenya. (See Time Traveler Series: Kenya p.

25 and Thematic Unit – Folk Tales pages 52, 54)

Students could also create animal puppets for use in the retelling of an African folk tale.
36. Write letters (individual or class) to the African Wildlife Foundation for information on safaris.

- Time Traveler Series: Kenya p. 23

37. Create a post card telling about a safari they went on. Tell where and tell what they saw in terms of

animals and plant life.

38. Create a time line of Kenya’s history.
39. Read about and take two column notes on Jomo Kenyatta. (See Creative Activities for Teaching

about Africa pages 20 – 21). Have students work with partners to conduct an interview featuring

aspects of his life. Questions and responses should be planned out. Interviews can be recorded on

audio or videotape.
40. Read about Nairobi and create a travel poster featuring characteristics of the city.

  • Time Traveler Series: Kenya pages 20 – 21

41. Create travel posters, postcards, or brochures on the tourist attractions of Kenya.

42. Read about Kenya’s National Parks. Divide class into research teams. Prepare brochures or posters

telling about each.

- Time Traveler Series: Kenya pages 22 -23
43. Draw a flag of Kenya and write a paragraph or caption telling about the meaning of symbols and

44. Plan a trip through Kenya. Create a “photo album” and write captions to tell about your trip.

Students can write an itinerary listing where they would visit. Stops should be in a logical order.

  1. View a video of Kenya and then create an illustration with a detailed caption depicting their visual impressions of the country.

  1. Research another African country (Nigeria, South Africa) and compare it to Kenya.

  1. At the end of the Kenya unit students can create an alphabet book on what they have learned. Topics for books may include names of animals, countries, geographical features, groups of people, or a mix of all topics studied. (See Africa Geography Unit p. 14)

  1. Respond to writing prompts. (List of possible topics follows.)


Students will:

  1. Create a web or fill in a graphic organizer on the major geographical features of Africa.

  1. Estimate the dimensions of the major deserts in Africa (land area covered).

  1. Use an atlas or provided maps to estimate the lengths of major rivers in Africa.

  1. Complete a crossword on geographical features of Africa (See Creative Activities for Teaching About Africa; Activity 10, p. 17 and Africa Geography Unit p. 11)

  1. Identify well known locations in Africa based on descriptions provided (See World Geography: Basic not Boring p. 24)

  1. Respond to search card questions on the geographical features of Africa. (See Africa Geography Unit p. 10)

  1. Create a cross sectional or three dimensional map of Africa from clay, layered card board or papier-mâché, to show elevations of the African continent.

  1. Create postcards, travel posters, or tourist brochures featuring interesting geographical features / locations for an imaginary trip through Africa. Student products should include pictures and at least 5 facts.

  1. List several landforms in Africa they would like to visit. Explain in a paragraph why they’d like to go there and what they’d do on their trip.

  1. Summarize information on Africa presented in student atlases. Different sections can be read by students in small groups and information can be shared “jigsaw” style. (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide p. 62)

  1. Compare the amounts of land in Africa and in North America that falls within the two tropics. Brainstorm a list of possible differences in the lifestyles on the two continents based on the differences in climate. (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide p. 60)

  1. Create a booklet / flip book describing the different climate classifications or natural vegetation areas found in Africa. (See Rand McNally Student Atlas p. 76)

  1. Study climate and vegetation maps. Write a paragraph on how climate and vegetation affect how Africans make a living and can meet their needs for food.

  1. Examine and interpret an annual rainfall map of Africa. (See Nystrom Student Atlas p. 57 and Nystrom Student Activity pages 51 - 52)

  1. Write a paragraph explaining why there is little or no farming in much of North Africa and parts of South Africa.

  1. Complete a graphic organizer for the following regions of Africa; Desert, Tropical Savanna, and Uplands / Mountain Regions. Characteristics for comparison are amount of rainfall, temperature and crops grown. Regions can be labeled on a map. (See Africa Geography Unit pages 2 – 4)

  1. Learn about the interaction of climate, landforms and natural vegetation in Africa. (See Mapping Africa pages 37 – 45 and 59 – 68). Compare types of climates and vegetation found in Africa to that of the United States.

  1. Research a problem faced by Africans that is caused by Africa’s landforms or climate. Learn and give examples of how Africans are solving these problems. Information and ideas can be presented in the form of a speech or a newspaper article.

  1. Compare the climate of Africa along the equator to the climate most common near the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Information can be recorded in a chart or graphic organizer.

  1. Research droughts and tell how droughts affect many of the people of Africa. Connections should be made to precipitation, climate and vegetation maps.

  1. Study a resource map of Africa. Prepare a chart of African resources by country or region. Have students list some of Africa’s natural resources that they and their family use. Students can conduct a product search at home.

  1. Study Africa’s natural resources then pretend they are businesspersons who want to start a factory in Africa. They need to decide on the type of factory and where to build it. Students should consider natural resources available in Africa, products able to be manufactured from those resources, where they will sell their products, how they will get their products to markets and who will work in their factory. Students can work individually or in groups to write their proposals and design posters sharing their ideas.

  1. Research animals of Africa (including location) and then design a United States Game Park to exhibit a collection of these animals. Students will need to determine where to put the park and why. They need to consider the land’s environment for the animals chosen. Plans for the park can be presented on a poster and should tell about the park’s features, design and inhabitants. (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide p. 62)

  1. Use knowledge of Africa to write “Jeopardy” type clues on geographical or other features of Africa. Form teams and play a class game.

  1. Complete activity pages featuring questions on the geography of Africa, natural hazards of Africa, climate and its effect on population, transportation, and economies of Africa. (See Rand McNally Teacher’s Guide pages 23 and 24)

  1. Use data on select African countries to make comparisons. (See Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa pages 23 – 26)

Activities may include:

  • determining countries with highest percentage of arable land

  • making a chart featuring countries / regions mineral resources

  • charting countries’ population, per capita income and GNP

  1. Use power thinking cards to order characteristics of regions / geographical features of Africa. (i.e. rivers, lakes, deserts, mountains, climate regions)

  1. Bring in and summarize for short oral reports current events news articles on African countries. Post on a bulletin board.

  1. Complete a class or individual information charts (I – charts) comparing North Africa to Africa South of the Sahara. Headings on chart could include climate, environment, economics, physical features, countries major cities etc.

  1. Make a list of all countries in Africa and label them on a map. (See Africa Geography Unit pages 5 – 7 and Mapping Africa pages 23 – 35).

  1. Review names of countries by completing a word search. (See Africa Geography Unit p. 8)

  1. Label, read and interpret various types of informational maps of Africa.

See Milliken: Map Skills Africa pages 1 – 15a and accompanying overhead transparencies.

  • Elevations

  • Average Annual Precipitation

  • Land Use

  • Population Density

  • East African Countries

  1. Make bar graphs comparing the rainfall and population density of select countries or 4 main regions of Africa. Write a paragraph on conclusions drawn from analyzing data. An almanac can be used to find exact precipitation records for cities in Africa.

34. Respond to writing prompts. (List of possible topics follows.)

Optional Supplemental Cross Curricular Connections: Literature
Students will:

  1. Read an African folk tale in play form (See Creative Activities for Teaching about Africa pages 8 –

10) then rewrite another African tale in play form.

  1. Read Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters and complete the suggested lesson plan activities in

Multicultural Folk tales; Teacher Created Materials (See pages 5 – 24, 39, 45, 67 – 78))

Activities include:

  • learning words in the Bantu language

  • analyzing character traits and the actions of characters

  • story mapping

  • comparison of African tales through Venn diagramming

  • daily writing prompts

  • graphing languages of Africa

  • suggestions for researching folk tales

  1. Invite a story teller in to tell African folk tales.

  1. Create an original folk tale to explain the creation of a geographical feature.

  1. Hold a folk tale festival featuring African folk tales.

  1. Participate in aspects of the Folk Tale Interact Unit

Writing Prompts

Geography & Culture (General)

  • Imagine you are going to establish a new settlement. What factors will you consider when choosing a location? Describe the perfect place for your settlement.

  • How would life be different if money did not exist?

  • Seashore communities have a lot of tourists in the summer. Many businesses depend on serving the needs of the tourists. How does the geography of Connecticut affect local businesses? How does it affect your own lifestyle?

  • A person’s standard of living is how well they live. How is your standard of living different from someone who doesn’t have as much money as your family? How is it different from someone who has more?

  • A headline briefly describes a current event. Good headlines encourage people to read the article. Write five headlines for events you hope will happen in school next month. Choose your favorite one and write the first paragraph of the article that might go with it.

  • History is the story of the past. Create a timeline that shows all the major events in your own history.

  • The physical characteristics of an area include climate, soil type, plant and animal live, and bodies of water. Describe the physical characteristics of the area in which you live.

  • Describe some of the ways that people have made changes to the geography of the earth.

  • When would you consult a globe for information? When would a map be more helpful?

  • What are some reasons for building a dam? Pretend you are a politician and write a speech to rally support for building a dam.

  • What are some of the ways water has affected people’s lives throughout history? How does it affect your life?

  • An imaginary grid of latitude and longitude lines covers the globe. Who might use this grid? Why?

  • Why would groups living in different regions of the world develop different survival skills and different cultures?

  • Describe at least two businesses that would do well in our area during each of the four seasons. Explain why.

  • What are some of the reasons it is a good idea for the United States to stay on good terms with Mexico and Canada?

  • What area of the United States do you think is most different from the area in which we live? Why do you think so?

  • What are some of the reasons why early factories might have been built near bodies of water?

  • Imagine you have won a trip to another country, but you will not know which country until you get there. Write a list of questions you could ask in order to be sure you would pack the right clothes and supplies.

  • Households in India contain many family members, such as parents, grandparents, children uncles, aunts, and cousins. Such households are called extended families. American households typically consist only of parents and children. How might American families benefit by including more family members in their homes?

  • A minority is a group of people that is different in some way from everyone else. Think of a time when you were in the minority based on your age, sex, race, or another factor. Describe what it felt like to be different.

  • In many periods of history, the way a person dressed was a sign of his or her social status. What does the way you dress tell other students about you? In what other ways do you express your individuality?

  • Immigrants are people who enter a country from another country. Brainstorm some of the benefits of living in an area where people from many different countries have come together to live.

  • Describe one of your friends who has a different background from yours. How do your differing cultures add to your friendship? If you don’t have such a friend, write about why a friend with a different background might be fun to have.

  • List as many ways as you can in which the United States is different from most other countries.

  • Would you eat fried squid or soup made from a bird’s nest? These foods are considered delicacies in other countries. What unusual foods are considered delicacies in the United States? Why do you think some foods seem “gross” to some people?

  • The use of horses for transportation changed the way the Plains Indians lived. On horseback they were able to travel farther and faster. How might their lives have changed with this new form of transportation? What other forms of transportation have dramatically affected the way people live? Explain.

  • The Chinese philosopher Confucius believed that charity, kindness, hard work, faith, and courtesy were the five virtues that could help people achieve a perfect world. Choose one of these virtues and explain how it could contribute to a perfect world.

  • Discuss all the ways you can find out what is going on around the world. Which way is easiest? Fastest? Cheapest? Which is most interesting?

  • In early cultures people traded goods rather than using money or credit. For example, a farmer might have traded a chicken for a cotton shirt. Would you like to see our country go back to a trading system? Why or why not?

  • What foreign country would you most like to visit? Why?

  • Write a brochure that would encourage a resident of another state / country to vacation in our state.

  • Write a brochure that would encourage a resident of another state to move to our state permanently.

  • Describe some family traditions you hope to pass to your children someday.

  • A Chinese philosopher named Confucius said, “What you do not want done to yourself, do not unto others.” Why is this a good rule to live by?

  • What do you think future generations will learn about us from the remains of our cities?

  • Do you think it is important for young people to learn about current events? Why or why not? What kinds of current events interest you?

  • People from many different countries came to the United States to live. Each group brought their traditions and ideas with them. What evidence of various cultures do you see in Newington? What evidence do you see in the United States as a whole?

  • Discuss three concerns or worries you have that you believe are common to people your age around the world.

  • What are some of the reasons two countries may go to war with each other? In your opinion, are any of these reasons good enough? If so, which ones?

  • Culture includes the food, dress, language, traditions, and general way of life of a group of people. Describe your own culture in a way that would give someone from another country an idea of how you live.

  • Describe what you think people in other countries consider to be the typical American dress. Also describe what you consider to be the typical dress in a foreign country of your choice.

  • Describe at least two important values you have learned from your family.

  • “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” What does this expression mean? How could this idea be used to solve some countries’ hunger problems?

  • Do you think it is important to stand up for what you believe in when everyone else in a group feels differently? Why or why not? Have you ever done so?

Africa / Kenya

  • A famine is a shortage of food. Famines occur in some countries when disease or weather destroys a food crop. Do you think the destruction of any one crop could cause a famine in the U.S.? Why or why not?

  • Nomads are people who travel from place to place and have no permanent home. How would the everyday life of nomadic people differ from the life of a group of people that has settled in an area? Be sure to think about factors such as food, shelter, and belongings.

  • Write about your favorite African legend or folk tale.

Time Frame:

  • (7 weeks)

Achievement of expectations in Social Studies involves the reading and comprehension of various non-fiction texts. Instruction should, therefore, incorporate strategies for reading non-fiction.

Major Concepts:
East Asian Country

Island Country

Environmental Influences

Cities and Population Distribution

Manufacturing / Super Power in World



Daily Life


Student Expectations:
Students will:

  1. Identify Japan on a world map and know its location in relation to other Asian countries, G

continents, and bodies of water.

  1. Understand that Japan is a country made up of four major islands. G

  1. Understand the effects of earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons and other environmental G


  1. Identify the major cities and population distribution of Japan. C,E,G

  1. Understand that Japan is an economic superpower in the world due to manufacturing E

and technological abilities.

  1. Investigate one area of Japanese art. C

  1. Learn about daily life and customs of Japan. C

  1. Compare Japanese schools with American schools. C

Required Instructional Tasks and Assessments: (See Note 1)
Students will:

  1. Learn the vocabulary for the unit. (See Note 2)

2. Read about the geography of Japan.


  • Places and People, Japan pages 6 and 7

  • Japan, Traditions and Trends, Japan page 5

  • Time Traveler’s Series, Japan page 7

  • Rand McNally Atlas pages 69 - 74

  • The Nystrom GeoThemes World Atlas pages63 - 70

  1. Use an atlas to label an outline map of Asia, including Japan and bordering countries. Students should label the major islands and cities of Japan, surrounding bodies of water and other major features of the country. (See Note 3)

  1. Learn about the weather events that threaten Japan’s population (heavy snow, tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanoes).

  • Places and People, Japan pages 8 and 9.

  1. Read about Japanese cities and metropolis life.

  • Places and People, Japan pages 10, 11, 24 and 25.

  • The Time Traveler Series, Japan pages 13 and 15.

  1. Read, interpret, and respond to the following aspects of Japan:

  • Vegetation

  • Environments

  • Imports

  • Exports

  • Destination of exports

  • Population

Possible options include SLAMS, open-ended questions, posters, media presentations.

  1. Read about the arts and crafts of Japan. Each student is required to create one product to demonstrate learning (example: haiku, kokeshi doll, calligraphy, origami, fans, clothing).


  • Japan, Traditions and Trends page 55

  • Hands on Culture of Japan page 3.

  • The Time Traveler Series, Japan page 24.

  • Japan, the Culture pages 6 – 13.

8. Read about daily life in Japan and demonstrate learning.


  • The Time Traveler Series, Japan page 18.

  • Japan, Traditions and Trends pages 29, 46, 49, and 51.

  • Places and People, Japan pages 18 – 19.

9. Read about special holidays and traditions of Japan.

  • Japan, the Culture pages 17 – 23 (Festivals throughout the year).

  • The Time Traveler Series, Japan page 21

10. Read about Japanese schools and create a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Japanese

schools and American schools.

  • Japan, Traditions and Trends page 37.

  • Teaching about Japan: Lessons and Resources page 93, Lesson 37.

11. View a video on Japan and write a framed paragraph on one topic of interest. (See CRISS

Strategies, Manual pages 130 – 131)

  • NOTE: See Appendix B for Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments as well as possible

writing prompts.

  1. For some assessments (required or suggested) specific resources and pages have been listed for teacher reference. The sited activity pages would be useful in achieving specific expectations. Teachers may choose to use activities sited, adapt them to meet their needs, or substitute similar activities from other appropriate sources.

  1. Vocabulary:

kimono, origami, ceramics, calligraphy, tatami, Bonsai Tree, sculpted gardens, Ikebana, Sumo wrestling, kokeshi dolls, haiku, tea ceremony, teriyaki, sushi, Bon Festival, Shich-go-san Festival.

  1. Outline map requirements / vocabulary: Countries: Japan, the former Soviet Union, People’s Republic of China, North Korea, South Korea. Mountains: Mt. Fuji, Japan Alps.

Islands: Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu, Shikoku, Okinawa. Bodies of Water: Pacific Ocean, Arctic Ocean, Sea of Japan, Inland Sea, East China Sea, Sea of Okhotsk. Cities: Tokyo, Yokohama Osaka, Nagoya, Kyoto, Sapporo, Kobe, Hiroshima.
Resources: (Resources denoted with an *asterisk are available at both middle schools.)
*Allen, Carole. (1992). Japan: Traditions and Trends. Torrance, CA: Good Apple.

*Bernson, Mary and Wojtan, L. (1996). Teaching About Japan: Lessons and Resources.

Bloomington, IN: ERIC Clearinghouse for Social Studies/ Social Science Education and the

National Clearinghouse for US – Japan Studies.

*Bunce, Vincent. (1994). Places and People, Japan. Danbury, CT: Watts Books.

*Creative Activities for Teaching About Japan. (1998). Stockton, CA: Stevens and Shea Publishers,


*Fischer, Max. (1995). Geography Simulations. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials.

House, Scott R. and Patti M. (1993). Map Skills, Asia. St. Louis, MO: Milliken Publishing Co.

Jasmine, Julia. (1995). World Geography Series; Asia. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created


*Kalman, Bobbie. (1989). Japan, the Culture. New York, NY: Crabtree Publishing Co.

Mapping Asia. (1994). Stanford, CA: Leland Stanford Junior- University Board of Trustees.

*Nystrom: Geo-Themes [The Nystrom World Atlas; Student Activities]. (1999). Chicago, IL:


O’Halloran, Kate. (1997). Hands-on Culture of Japan. Portland, ME: J. Weston Walch Publisher.

Pofahl, Jane. (1996). The Time Traveler Series, Japan. Grand Rapids, MI: Instructional Fair.

*Rand McNally Classroom Atlas – Teacher’s Guide. (1997). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally and Co.

Internet Sites:
Oriental Museum: Electronic Samurai. The National Clearinghouse – Japan Studies. Database site of lesson plans and teaching resources that pertain to Japan. Includes information on locating a sister school classroom in Japan with whom to correspond. Kids Web Japan. Includes information on Japan’s schools, history, daily life, economy, traditions, geography and more. E-mail comments and requests to

Suggested Trade Books / Literature Connections:
*Billings, Melissa. (1993). Mosaics: Folktales from around the World. North Billerica, MA:

Curriculum Associates.

Coatsworth, Elizabeth. The Cat Who Went to Heaven.

Coerr, Eleanor. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

Davidson, Judith. Japan: Where East Meets West.

Paterson, Katherine. The Master Puppeteer.

Paterson, Katherine. Of Nightingales That Weep.

Paterson, Katherine. The Sign of the Chrysanthemum.

Sakade, Florence. Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories.

Soto, Gary. (1992). Pacific Crossing. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace and Co.

Living Treasures of Japan. (1988). Stamford, CT: National Geographic / Vestron, Inc.

Video Visits: Japan / Far East Collection. (1988). Huntsville, TX: Educational Video Network, Inc.



Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments:

  • The following suggestions have been provided for teachers to select from as possible extension activities or enrichment for differentiated instruction. These activities are not required.

Students will:

  1. Choose one of the four main Japanese islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu or Shikoku. Research the island and explain findings in an informational speech using at least three visual aids. (Excellent group project.)

  2. Make a three-dimensional map of the Japanese islands. Include mountain ranges and major cities.

  3. Make a mode of Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest peak. Include a written paragraph of facts about Mt. Fuji.

  4. Research and explain in an informational essay how the islands of Japan were formed.

  5. Read a legend about how Japan was formed (See Japan, Traditions and Trends, page 3). Students in turn write their own legends about how Japan was formed. Have students illustrate and color stories.

  6. Write an expository piece on the topic; “What island in Japan would you most like to visit, and why does it seem intriguing?”

  7. Plan an earthquake survival kit for the classroom. They must have enough food, water, and supplies to survive for 72 hours.

  8. Write a haiku poem about a moment in nature.

  9. Make a Yakko Kite and have a kite flying contest to see whose kite flies the highest and longest, and whose is quickest up or most maneuverable.

  10. Make origami designs.

  11. View examples of Japanese designs in Teaching About Japan: Lessons and Resources, pages 23 – 25 and then make postcards using chosen designs. Students may also design Valentine’s Day cards or other holiday greeting cards.

  12. Research the history of calligraphy and produce examples. Teachers may invite someone in from the community to demonstrate the art.

  13. Research the care of Bonsai Trees. Grow one and bring it in to show classmates.

  14. Choose one of the traditional Japanese sports (Sumo wrestling, Kendo, Kudo, or Karate) to study. Students will then write a two page report including at least two visual aids. Students can also demonstrate some moves. Teachers may want to plan an interdisciplinary lesson with the physical education teacher.

  15. Create a miniature Kare-saunsui garden. (See Hands on Culture of Japan, page 57).

  16. Find out the exact steps in the Japanese Tea Ceremony and then demonstrate before the class.

  17. Make a Kokeshi doll. Design a dress and add facial features.

  18. Create and design a Japanese fan. Decorate with appropriate Japanese artwork.

  19. Decorate a paper plate in the Japanese style of lacquerware (See Teaching About Japan: Lessons and Resources, page 28).

  20. Design and make a paper kimono (See Japan, the Culture, page 31).

  21. Make a chart showing the differences between a traditional Japanese home and an American home.

  22. Plan a menu for four featuring traditional Japanese food.

  23. Create a miniature Japanese home for a family of mice. (See Japan, Traditions and Trends page 50)

  24. Design a T-shirt that illustrates the friendship between the United States and Japan. (See Japan, Traditions and Trends page 36)

  25. Respond to writing prompts. (List of possible topics follows.)

Writing Prompts / Japan

  • Japan sometimes experiences fierce hurricanes called typhoons. What severe weather conditions have you experienced? How did your family and community prepare for the arrival of the severe weather?

  • The tea ceremony is an important part of the Japanese culture. Very specific steps are followed during the serving and drinking of the tea. Describe some of the different types of ceremonies you have seen or participated in.

  • A time of economic hardship is called a depression. Imagine you are a twenty-five-year- old factory worker who has just lost your job due to a depression. Write a letter to a relative in another country, explaining what the depression is like and how it is affecting your standard of living.

  • Foreign competition has forced American industry to improve its products. When you buy a product, do you check to see if it was made in the United States? Do you think the government should tax people for buying products that are not manufactured in the U.S.? Explain.

  • Because Japan is so densely populated, people have very limited living space. Consequently, the Japanese people have trained themselves to waste as little room as possible. They have bedding that unfolds onto the floor at night and stores away during the day. What other adaptations might the Japanese have to conserve space?




*(Integrated Unit – See also Language Arts

and Science Curricula)


Time Frame:

  • (6 weeks)

Achievement of expectations in social studies involves the reading and comprehension of various nonfiction texts. Instruction should, therefore, incorporate strategies for reading non-fiction.
Major Concepts:

  • Geography of the Amazon Rain Forest in Brazil

  • Relationship between humans and the Amazon Rain Forest; current environmental issues

  • Cultural aspects of the people of Brazil and the Amazon Rain Forest

Student Expectations:
Students will:

  1. Learn about the interaction between the geography/environment of the Amazon Rain G

Forest and the people living there; how geography affects people and their way of life, and

how people affect the rainforest.

  1. Learn about the different life styles of the people of Brazil, contrasting the city dwellers G,C,H

and the rain forest dwellers
3. Learn about the endangered animals and plants that live in the Amazon Rain Forest G,E
4. Identify the main threats that endanger wildlife species in the Amazon Rain Forest G,E
5. Understand the benefits of conserving the Amazon Rain Forest G,E

Required Instructional Tasks and Assessments:
Students will:

  1. Learn the vocabulary words for this unit. (See Note 1)

  1. Read texts and create a travel poster or postcard from Brazil. Focus areas could be famous beaches, businesses, the national sport, products, etc.

  1. Create a class list of “Rain Forest Treasures.” Add to the list as students read and study more.

  1. Explain how the rain forest is threatened by deforestation. (See also Science Text: Discovery Works. (1996). Parsippany, NJ: Silver Burdett Ginn pages D56 – D57)pages)

5. Debate the following issue: The need to earn a living from the resources of the rain forest vs.

protecting the resources from endangerment or extinction. (See Note 2)
6. Read aloud the book, The Great Kapok Tree. Discuss/respond to reading.
7. Research the rain forest by finding information on one animal, one plant, one tribe, and one product

found there. (For note taking forms see Rain Forest Extended Thematic Unit)

  1. Learn about the Yanomami people of the Amazon Rain Forest (or another tribe such as the Wayana

Indians). Students compare the way of life of Amazon Tribal people to their own life in the United


  1. Choose one of the following or similar art activities:

    1. Make a rain forest diorama showing the layers of vegetation and animal life.

    2. Create a rain forest booklet in layers. In each layer of the booklet, illustrate and describe a layer of the rain forest.

    3. Create a classroom mural, with groups working on the different layers of plant and animal life in the rain forest.

  • NOTE: See Appendix C for Additional Instructional Tasks and Assessments as well as possible

writing prompts.

  1. Vocabulary words:

Adaptation, biome, camouflage, canopy, carbon dioxide, cash crops, conservation, deforestation, ecosystem, emergent layer, endangered species, environment, erosion, extinction, forest floor, greenhouse effect, habitat, indigenous, jungle, ozone layer, photosynthesis, rain forest, resource, slash-and-burn farming, species, tropical rain forest, understory

  1. Loggers cut down rain forest land to get wood. Ranchers burn rain forests to create grazing land for their cattle. Poor people move from the cities to the rain forests in order to grow crops and make a living. All this means that rain forest lands are lost. However, it also means that people can make a living and that people all over the world have wood for use in hundreds of ways. Do you think the people who make their living from the rain forests have a right to destroy them, or should they be forced to make their living in other ways? Do you think it’s important to keep the rain forests from being destroyed? Why? Students can debate this issue.

Resources: (Resources denoted with an *asterisk are available at both middle schools)
*Adams, Cynthia. (1999). Time Traveler Series: Brazil. Grand Rapids, MI: Instructional Fair- TS


Campbell, Becky. (1994). Endangered Species; Integrating Literature Series. Torrance, CA: Frank

Schaffer Publishing, Inc.

*Cherry, Lynne. (1990) The Great Kapok Tree. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace & Co. (Carefully

researched picture book of the Amazon rain forest.)

Classroom Atlas (and Teacher’s Guide). (1997). Skokie, IL: Rand McNally & Co.

Cook, Shirley. (1993) Rain Forest. Nashville, TN: Incentive Publications, Inc.

*Davenport, Merle. (1998). Living Geography - Brazil: An Interdisciplinary Unit. Grand Rapids, MI:

Instructional Fair-T.S. Denison.

*Endangered Animals. (1997). New York, NY: Kids Discover.

Endangered Species. (1994). Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Franco, Betsy. (1995). Brazil. Monterey, CA: Evan Moor Corp.

Geography Mini Centers. (1989). Phoenix, AZ: Engine-Uity, Ltd.

Hands on Science - Rain Forest: Experiments, Games, Art and Writing Activities. (1998). Dana Point,

CA: Edupress.

*House, R. Scott and House, Patti M. (1993). Map Skills Latin America. St. Louis, MO: Milliken

Publishing Co.

Mapping Latin America. (1992). Stanford, CA: SPICE/Latin America Project, Stanford University.

*Markham, Lois. (1997). Rain Forests. New York, NY: Kids Discover.

Miller, Ilene and Agopian, L. (1995). Rain Forest—Extended Thematic Unit #674. Huntington Beach,

CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Moore, Jo Ellen. (1992). South America: Geography Unit. Monterey, CA: Evan-Moor Corp.

*Morrison, Marion. (1995). Guide to Brazil: Top Secrets Adventures. Columbus, OH: Highlights for


Our Environment. TCM#272. (1991). Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Shedlock, Robert. (1998). Lessons on Latin America Part 5. Scio, NY: Learning Center USA.

Thematic Unit #286: Ecology. (1999). Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, Inc.

Yoder, Carolyn. (Ed.) (Jan. 1989). Faces: Visiting Brazil. Peterborough, NH: Cobblestone

Field Trips:

  • Bronx Zoo

  • Science Museum of Connecticut, West Hartford

Internet sites: (Rand McNally)
ABC Wide World of Animals. (1995), Redwood City, CA: Creative Wonders.

Animals in Danger – Zoo Guides.

Animal Planet. (1996). Discovery Communications.

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