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Journey to the Interior

These thematic units for use in elementary literature, social studies, and art classrooms have been authored by the participants of a Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad-funded summer seminar in Japan, Journey to the Interior, directed by Dr. Laurel Rasplica Rodd in summer 2009 or the Texts and Contexts: Japan through Children's Literature study tours led by Catherine Higbee Ishida in the summers of 2006-2008 and funded by the Freeman Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education.  Additional units designed for use in the Japanese language classroom are posted at the Association of Teachers of Japanese website

Chaco Sandals

By Jill M. Fenn, Jill E. Maxwell, and Axel Reitzig

After this lesson, students will have a deeper understanding of Japanese poetry, specifically haiku. Students will create their own haiku following specific haiku rules.

Chaco Sandals Lesson is found here.

KWL Chart is found here.

Rules of Haiku

By Carridy Koski, Rebecca Laverdure, Mandy Lover, Nina Marks, and Lynn Williams

Students will synthesize a chart with the rules of haiku poetry. They will be able to analyze poems using the class-generated chart and determine if they are haiku or not.

Rules for Haiku Lesson is found here.

If Basho Journeyed to Colorado

By Christine Cervera, Wendy Blasingame, Leah Ebel, Stacey Mandel, and Blanca Carbajal Rodriquez

Students will be assessed at the end of the lesson by noting similarities and differences between Colorado’s and Japan’s geography. Student haiku will be assessed.

If Basho Journeyed to Colorado lesson is found here.

If Basho Journeyed to Colorado-materials are found here.

Photographs are found here.

Exploring Haiku through Basho and the Fox

By Lynn Hannapel, Wendy Durst, Kelly Hirneisen, and Nancy Kelso

Students will be able to place Basho on a Japanese timeline as a prominent figure in Japanese literature. Students will write an individual haiku.

Exploring Haiku through Basho and the Fox lesson is found here.

Teaching Renku

Experiences from Culture: Teaching Renku is found here.

Keys to Renku is found here.

Haiku Hike

By Sherry Mills Donald

This lesson will teach students how to communicate through haiku poetry the connection with nature. Grade level: 4th and 5th is the grade level that I used the lesson for, but could be used for grades 4th through 12th.

Haiku Hike lesson is found here.

Texts and Contexts: Teaching Japan through Children's Literature

The Texts and Contexts: Teaching Japan through Children’s Literature online curriculum is a collection of teacher-developed, standards-based, cross-curricular K-6 lessons. The collection is designed to promote the teaching of cultural studies of Japan while developing students’ knowledge and skills in literacy and communication. Each of the six lessons features an authentic children’s literature book on an aspect of Japanese culture.

Visit the website for Texts and Contexts here.

Poetry Talk features The Girl Who Loved Caterpillars (1992), a story adapted by Jean Merrill from a twelfth-century Japanese story entitled Tsutsumi Chūnagon Monogatari. In this lesson, students learn about and write tanka, an ancient Japanese poetic form. Students exchange tanka to communicate messages and participate in a poetry competition as court nobles did in the Heian period ( 794-1185 C.E.). The suggested level for this lesson is grades 3-5.  See the lesson and materials here.

Hachiko: A Loyal Dog uses Hachiko: The True Story of a Loyal Dog (2004) by Pamela S. Turner for primary instruction or Hachiko Waits (2004) by Lesléa Newman for intermediate instruction. The Hachikō books are based on a true story that occurred in Tokyo in the twentieth century. In this lesson, students learn about a Tokyo commuter station and Japanese conceptions of loyalty and community. Students define loyalty through creative art and writing projects.  See the lesson and materials here.

Grass Sandals: A Mini-Unit on Haiku and Brush Painting features Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho (1997) by Dawnine Spivak. This story introduces Matsuo Bashō, the famous seventeenth-century traveling poet and provides highlights of several of his journeys. Part 1 of this lesson uses an inquiry-based approach: students analyze haiku to develop rules for writing a poem on their own. In Part 2, students learn about kanji characters and brush painting and, in a final art project, incorporate their haiku into a black-ink illustrated hanging scroll. The lesson was written for the early elementary grades but is easily adaptable for older students.  See the lesson and materials here.

Comparing Japanese Folktales with American Tall Tales suggests using The Adventures of Momotaro, the Peach Boy (1993) by Ralph F. McCarthy to have students compare the folktale well known since the eighteenth century, with the American tall tale, Paul Bunyan. As a class, students analyze the stories and develop criteria for the two literary genres. Individually, students write the story of Paul Bunyan as a Japanese folktale or write the story of Momotarō as an American tall tale. This lesson is intended for use in grades 3-6 but can be adapted for use in primary grades.  See the lesson and materials here.

Two Homes: Living in Two Cultures focuses on the experiences and perspectives of the bicultural child who is the main character of The Wakame Gatherers (2007) by Holly Thompson. The Wakame Gatherers depicts real-life scenes, experiences, and people who live in the Koshigoe district of Kamakura-city. In the lesson, students construct categories and make cross-cultural comparisons in regard to food and meals, transportation, and homes in Japan. Making text-to-self connections, students develop understandings and definitions of the concepts of culture and bicultural. This lesson is written for the early elementary grades but is easily adaptable for older students.  See the lesson and materials here.

Telephone Tanabata features the kamishibai (Japanese storytelling cards) format of The Story of Tanabata (Tanabata Monogatari, n.d.) adapted by Shin Kitada. Based on an East Asian story that explains the position of the stars of Altair and Vega, Tanabata (Qixi in Chinese or Chilseok in Korean) is a festival celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month in China, Korea, and Japan. In this lesson, students develop the concept of cultural borrowing by analyzing versions of the Tanabata story from these three East Asian cultures and writing their own adapted version in kamishibai format. This lesson is planned for use with a third- or fourth-grade class.  See the lesson and materials here.