Teacher Notes



Although the lesson above is written directly to the students, you will, of necessity at the first grade level, have to read, interpret and direct the lesson for them.

Lesson Purpose:

The purpose of this lesson is to develop an awareness of cultural diversity.

H/SS Framework:

Grade 1 : Developing Awareness of Cultural Diversity


Language Arts Grade 1: Reading Comprehension: Students read and understand grade level appropriate material. They draw upon a variety of comprehension strategies as needed, including generating and responding to essential questions, making predictions, and comparing information from several sources.

Writing Strategies: Students write clear and coherent sentences and paragraphs that develop a central idea.

Writing Applications: Students write compositions that describe and explain familiar objects, events, and experiences using writing that demonstrates a command of standard English.

Draft H/SS Grade 1: Students compare everyday life in different places and times.


The students will discover what life in Japan is like. They will focus on:

(1) home and daily life
(2) food and eating customs
(3) school life
(4) games and sports
(5) holiday customs and religion

The students will create a class book reflecting the similarities and differences between life in the United States and life in Japan.

Information Literacy Skills:

The student will:

Length of Lesson:

Depending on how detailed you wish to get, this lesson should take about ten 45-minute blocks, with half that time dedicated to the creation of the class book.

Resources or materials needed:

A Country Far Away by Nigel Hawkes is very helpful as a model. If you do not have a copy, all you need to know is that the text describes a common activity and the illustrations show the differences between a village in Kenya and city/suburb in the U.S. It is important to emphasize the city - country issue when showing the book to children. If you don't, the immediate reaction of the children may be that life for the Kenya children is primitive and that of the Americans is modern. In large part what is really the issue is that of city services present in one case and absent in another. If you have pictures of Nairobi it would help make that point. (http://www.safariweb.com/lexinda-travels/nairobi.htm)

With that in mind, show the students the page that shows children like to help their parents. The western child is shown vacuuming, and helping with yard work. The African child is herding goats and carrying water. Another page tells about going shopping with the western child visiting a supermarket and the African child going to street stalls. Have the students make a list of all the activities that are depicted. Guide them in brainstorming a list of other common activities that were not included. Use these ideas as a basis for their research on Japan.

Additional Internet resources:

Japanese Information


This listing of links to information about Japan is a good resource for additional background information for the teacher.

World Cultures - Internet Resources: Japan


This is a listing of links to information about Japan.

Lesson sequence:

It is important to spend enough time at the beginning to allow the students to become familiar with the style and format of A Country Far Away. Have them practice drawing pairs of pictures that illustrated the same words but tell a different version. The whole class should participate in the brainstorming for each group so that they can have as many ideas as possible to work with. When searching through the resources, the students should work in their topic groups to help each other find important information. If at all possible, have an adult work with each group while they are doing their research.

Interdisciplinary connections:

Art: Origami, illustration of class book

Math: Learn to count in Japanese

Science: Japan and California have in common volcanoes and earthquakes,

oceans and sea life, both items of interest to first graders

Language Arts: writing of class book, read folktales from Japan


If desired, an excursion to Kenya could also be a part of this unit. Students could rewrite the book, A Country Far Away, by setting the African child in an urban setting rather than a rural one or the country in the U.S, if your class has access to materials on farms.

Use the following resource list for more information and pictures of African life.

Say Hello to the World


Learn how to say hello in many languages from around the world.

Culture Quest: Jambo from Kenya!


Join Parsifal Penguin and Olivia Owl as they sample the food, play the games, see the museums full of arts, crafts and history, hear the folktales and learn about the holidays & festivals of many of the world's cultures, including Kenya.

Return to the Lesson

Konnichiwa, Welcome to My World