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Grades 6-8
Overview:
Culture influences every aspect of life. The accumulated habits, attitudes, and beliefs of a group of people that define for them their general behavior and way of life, culture is all around us. This lesson emphasizes the importance of using material objects to discover things about the culture of a people.

In the first activity, students learn how to classify material objects according to three components of culture—Ideological, Technological, and Sociological—and apply their understanding to an object. In the second activity, students use the Five Ws and H to research and analyze a selected cultural object. In the closing activity, students present, share, and display their object and completed Five Ws and H Handout with the class.

Connections to the Curriculum:
Geography, Social Studies, Language Arts
Connections to the National Geography Standards:
Standard 4: The physical and human characteristics of places
Standard 6: How culture and experience influence people’s perception of places and regions

National Language Arts Standards

  • Language Arts Standard 3
  • Language Arts Standard 6

Time:
One to two hours

Materials Required:
  • Material objects from various countries or visual representations of those objects (photos, drawings, etc.).
    Examples of objects include:
    • Sari - Traditional garment worn by women in India
    • Chinese Knot - Traditional art object of China
    • Turban - Traditional long scarf that is wound around the head or an inner hat
    • Matryoshka or Russian Nesting Dolls - Traditional craft made in Russia

  • Notebook paper and pencils
  • Classifying Components of Culture Handout (PDF, Adobe Reader required)
  • Analyze Cultural Objects with the 5 Ws and H Handout ( PDF )
Objectives:
Students will:
  • learn how to classify material objects according to three components of culture—Ideological, Technological, and Sociological—and apply their understanding to an object;
  • identify, examine, and discuss material objects from various Asian countries; and
  • use the Five Ws and H as a guide to write and present about the cultural significance of a specific material object.
  • Geographic Skills:

    Acquiring Geographic Information
    Analyzing Geographic Information

    S u g g e s t e d   P r o c e d u r e
    Opening:
    Guiding Question: What can material objects used by a group of people teach us about their culture?

    Review the Five Ws and H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How) with the class. Discuss how students can examine an object using these question words. Tell the students to investigate material objects representing various countries of Asia.

    Explain to students that material objects have a history and reflect a cultural perspective. Therefore, material objects can be used to document the lives of a people. However, we must realize that it is not the material objects that distinguish one group of people from another, but how people interpret, use, and perceive those material objects. Understanding cultural groups prepares us to better listen to, respect, and celebrate those who seem different at first glance.

    Development:
    Activity 1:
    In this activity, students learn how to classify material objects according to three components of culture—Ideological, Technological, and Sociological—and apply their understanding to an object.

    1: Brainstorm with students to find words associated with the term “culture.” Take several answers. [Possible answers: traditions, customs, civilization, background, value sets, tools, art, theatre, sports, and religion .]

    Explain that all these ideas help connect specific material objects to a society's broader culture.

    2: Distribute the Classifying Components of Culture Handout ( PDF ) and go over the categories as a class. Discuss how they relate to the categories students brainstormed.

    3: Put the selection of material objects, or representations of them, on display so that students can view them. Show students each object or picture and, as you do so, share the country origin and the cultural significance of each object.

    4: Then, ask students as a class to analyze one of the objects using the Classifying Components of Culture Handout. Students should decide under which category it belongs—Ideological, Technological, and Sociological—and why.

    5: Next, have students consider the objects again to make any connections they can with material objects from their own culture.

    Activity 2:
    In this activity, students will use the 5 Ws and H Handout ( PDF ) to research and analyze a selected cultural object.

    1: Distribute a copy of the Analyze Cultural Objects with the Five Ws and H Handout to the class.

    2: Instruct individual or small groups of students to select a material object from the ones provided for analysis.

    3: Have students classify the object according to the components Ideological, Technological, and Sociological.

    4: Next, have students do library or Internet research to learn more about the culture represented by their material object. Ask students to consider the role of their chosen object in the culture it represents.

    5: Students should use the Analyze Cultural Objects with the Five Ws and H Handout to help them understand what is culturally significant about their object.

    Closing:
    In this activity, students present, share, and display their object and completed Five Ws and H Handout with the class.

    1: Students present individually or in small groups what they have learned about their chosen material object. In their presentations, students should explain what the object might tell us about a particular group of people and what it illuminates about the cultural heritage of those people.

    2: Display the completed handouts with the objects or representations of the objects.

    Suggested Student Assessment:
    • Teacher observation of student participation and completion of assigned activities.
    Extending the Lesson:
    • Have students select and analyze a material object representing their own culture. Then have them make a creative presentation of their analysis.
    • Request students go home and find a cultural object that has significance within their family. Have students compare their home object to the ones analyzed in class. How are they similar, how are they different?
    • Ask students if their personal definitions of culture have changed after analyzing objects using the Five Ws and H.

    This lesson was adapted from a lesson developed by DC Geographic Alliance Teacher Consultant Donna Grogan for Geography Action! Asia .

    Related Links: