Home Products Contests Training Support News About Us Navigation
Comparing Cultures
Grade: 4-5
Subject(s): Researching
Required products: Tool Factory Word Processor
  • Books on Japan today (ex: This Place is Crowded - by Vicki Cobb)
  • Books on Japan in the 1930ís (ex: Japan from True Books - by Ann Heinrichs)
  • A Jar of Dreams - by Yoshiko Uchida
  • Kidding Around San Francisco - by Bobi Martin (This will work for both modern and historical California - the book takes place in San Francisco)
  • Venn diagram
  • How My Parents Learned to Eat - by Ina Friedman
  • As many books on the subject as you can find for students to research on their own
  • (Optional) Video-conferencing materials to interview someone living in Japan and/or California
  • (Optional) On-line chat for interviewing
  • (Optional) E-mail
  • Overview
    Students will be able to compare life in California in the eyes of Rinko Tsujimura, to life in Japan during the 1930ís. Then look at life today in both places.
    1) Explain to your reading group that we are going to look at cultural differences between two cultures that we cannot see, so we need to be creative.
    2) Ask students what it means to look at cultural differences. Students should identify that in different places, cultures perform basic tasks differently. A good example is to discuss styles of eating. Briefly show the book "How My Parents Learned to Eat" -by Ina Friedman, which describes a Japanese woman learning to eat with a fork, and an American man learning to eat with chopsticks. Other good examples are, how they dress or how they greet each other.
    3) When students really understand what it means to have cultural differences, explain that we are going to use our books to identify more differences between the USA in 1930ís and today, to Japan in the 1930ís and today.
    4) Use the books on California and Japan to get some background information and have the students do research.
    5) (Optional) Set up a video conference with a Japanese class or student. Beware of the time differences, as it could be night time in Japan when you call. Video conferenceing can give students first hand experience at interviewing a real person using the latest in technology. Be sure to go over the rules of interviewing prior to making the call.
    5) If you donít have access to video conferencing, chat can be another alternative. Also students can find as many books as possible and do research. There are great videos on Japan as well. Try the "Dear America" series which discusses Japanese people living in the USA.
    6) As students are identifying cultural differences and similarities, have them fill out a four way Venn diagram created in Tool Factory Word Processor. They may work as a team or in partners to do this.
    7) When students have completed the Venn diagram, discuss their findings.
    Follow-up Activities
    If you are doing a class unit on cultural differences or on Japan or even just historical fiction, have students create a skit dealing with the places and time period they just learned about.
    Cross-Curriculum Ideas
    You can do this in Social Studies with many different cultures.
    Downloadable Worksheets
    Mac users: To download, ctrl-click on the worksheet and choose "save link to disk"
  • Venn Diagram made in Tool Factory Word Processor
  • Related Lesson - Making Timelines
  • Related Lesson - Historical Fiction
    Tessa Weiss
    4th Grade Teacher
    Georgian Forest Elementary School
    3100 Regina Drive
    Silver Spring MD 20906
    Phone: 301-460-2170 Fax: