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Grandfather's Journey Lesson Plan on Cross Cultural Differences

By Patricia Gable

On the list of Caldecott winners is Grandfather's Journey, a beautifully illustrated story of cross cultural differences within a family. Use this lesson plan with elementary students to help them learn more about Japan and its culture and the journeys of their own elders.

This is certainly a book worthy of being on a list of Caldecott Winners. The illustrations are exquisite and the text simple yet enlightening. Grandfather’s Journey lesson plan is perfect32932899.JPG  to use when your students are studying cross cultural differences and the blending of cultures as immigrants moved to a new land.

The Book

First use a globe or world map to locate Japan. Compare its location with where you live.

As you read, you may want to discuss with the students the following questions and observations:

1. (Page 4-5) How do the “European” clothes compare to his attire in Japan?

2. What is a steamship?

3. (Page 6) How would you feel if you didn’t see land for three weeks?

4. (Page 10) Why did the factories and tall buildings “bewilder” him?

5. (Page 12) Why is the text on this page still relevant today? (“He shook hands with black men, and white men, with yellow men and red men”)

6. (Page 19) Why was it important to take his daughter back to his homeland?

7. (Page 30-31) Is it possible to love both places equally? Discuss a time when you have felt that way, perhaps when you are on a vacation.

Activities

Student assignment:

Interview an older friend or family member. Find out where they were born or grew up. Ask them to describe a place they lived that was special or different. Have them talk about “the good old days”. From what you have learned, create a postcard on a 5"x8" piece of tagboard. On the front illustrate a memorable scene described in the interview. On the reverse side, write a short note to someone (as if you were sending someone a postcard) describing a memory of the location.

Art

Grandfather used many forms of transportation: steamship, train, riverboat, small boat and by foot.

1. Use watercolor paints to paint your favorite form of transportation with the appropriate landscape around it.

2. Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. Try some origami with the students to make a boat. This link will provide instructions:thumbnail.aspx 

http://www.origami-fun.com/origami-boat.html

Social Studies

Divide students into groups to research Japan in the early 1900’s. Here are some topics to guide them:

Map and topography of the country

Religions of the people

Types of jobs

Crops

Clothing

Cultural habits

Foods

Major Cities

Housing

Enemies

Complete the Journey

37590314.JPG To enhance the lesson of cultural differences between Japan and the “New World”, Grandfather’s Journey author, Allen Say, has another book to use with this lesson entitled Tree of Cranes. It is a beautifully illustrated story of a young Japanese boy who disobeys his mother. He cannot understand his mother’s attitude toward him when she finds out what he has done. (Could this be her cultural upbringing?) Later she displays a Christmas tree in their home and explains that it was part of the culture when she lived in California.