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Lesson Overview
  • 90 Minutes
  • 1, 4, 5, 6, 8,
  • 3rd - 5th Grade
  • State Standards:
    Common Core: R.1, SL.1, SL.2, W.1 Social Science: 3.19, 4.23, 5.28

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Cultures, Food, and Communities Around the World

Categories: Easy Do-at-Home Activity , Primary Literacy , Literacy , Social Studies , Agriculture

Students will explore different cultures around the world, compare worldwide communities with local communities, and explain the interrelationship between the environment and community development.

Virtual learning version of this lesson can be found here.

  1. Begin by asking the students if their families cook any special meals for holidays. Allow the students to share what they eat for different holidays and why they eat that specific meal. Is it a meal that’s unique to their family? Is it a common meal that most families in the United States eat?
  2. Using the Holiday Foods Around the World PowerPoint, show the students examples of traditional foods other countries eat during different holidays. Use the following questions to guide a discussion:
    • Does anyone in class celebrate any of these holidays? (If students in class celebrate different holidays because of their culture or religion, allow them to share information about that holiday. Help encourage diversity in class and introduce students to other holidays and cultures.)
    • What types of foods were shown in the PowerPoint?
    • What ingredients do these foods contain?
    • Do you cook or bake with the same ingredients?
    • Would you try these foods? Why or why not?

Activity 1: What’s for Lunch?

  1. Ask the students what they like to eat for lunch. Allow the students to raise their hands and share some examples with you. Discuss where their food comes from. Did someone grow it? Was it produced from an animal? If possible, bring in examples of food eaten at school lunch that day.
  2. Project a map of the world that includes labeled countries on the board or use the World Fabric Map.
  3. Pass out one lunch card from the Lunch Cards handout to each student. (Cut and laminate each lunch card prior to the lesson.) If there are not enough lunch cards for each student, have students pair up and work as a team.
  4. Explain to the students that on their lunch card is a common lunch item eaten in another country. Allow the students to guess which country eats that lunch item by reading the clues located on each card.
  5. Using tape or magnets, have each student place their lunch card on the country where they think that food is eaten. If desired, a list of the correct countries can be written on the board to help students with their guesses. The correct countries and food items for the lunch cards are listed below:
    • United States: pizza, milk, fruit
    • Japan: miso soup, fish
    • France: cheese
    • Canada: packaged treats, sandwiches
    • Brazil: bananas, passion fruit juice, beans
    • England: roast beef and gravy, Yorkshire pudding
    • Russia: borsch, kasha
    • Peru: guinea pig, quinoa
    • Afghanistan: biscuits
    • China: hot soup, bok choy
    • Mexico: torta, toasted grasshoppers
    • India: dal
    • Kenya: porridge
  6. Share the book What’s for Lunch by Andrea Curtis with your students. Show students the photographs of lunches from different parts of the world. Discuss the contents of each lunch and the country where it is commonly eaten.
  7. Allow students to see if their initial guess was correct. If necessary, have students move their lunch card(s) to the correct country as you read.
  8. Discuss some of the reasons why different foods are more common in different parts of the world. Consider asking the following questions to lead a discussion:
    • Why do you think Canada and the United States eat very similar food? (Close to each other geographically, similar cultures, etc.)
    • Which countries provide healthy meals for their students? How can you tell? (Discuss certain countries banning soda from school vending machines, serving fresh fruit, etc.)
    • If you could choose to eat lunch from another country, which country would you choose? Why?

Activity 2: Building from the Ground Up 

  1. Divide your class into two to four groups or address the class as one group. Assign or allow each group to select a country in South America.
  2. Pass out a South America Agriculture Map to each group. Have the groups locate their countries on the map, color their assigned country, and put an X where their community will be located.
  3. Invite the students to pretend that they are the founding members of a rural, underdeveloped area in their selected country. Brainstorm as a class the things they might want to know about their countries before they can successfully build a community (climate, average rainfall, soil type, common crops, etc.) Use the South America Agriculture Map to guide students in their research. Allow students one or two class periods to research their countries.
  4. Provide each student with a Building From the Ground Up Group SheetHave the students establish their new communities by answering questions 1-7 on the group sheet. Allow students to share their new communities with the rest of the class. Encourage students to question one another about their communities. Is anyone able to develop a community without including agriculture?
  5. Throughout the next week, one day at a time, provide each group with scenarios affecting their communities. You may come up with your own scenarios or use the provided Building From the Ground Up Scenarios. (Keep in mind that some of the provided scenarios are region-specific and will only affect certain countries.) Each group should receive at least three scenarios throughout the week. Ask the groups to decide how they will personally be affected by the scenario and how their entire community will be affected. Allow the group to use problem-solving skills to decide how to deal with the different scenarios. Have groups answer the questions from each scenario. Encourage group members to work together and even suggest they “seek aid” from other communities in other countries. Some groups who have beneficial scenarios might consider helping out a struggling, neighboring community. Consider asking the following questions to lead a class discussion:
    • Did your scenario positively or negatively affect your community?
    • What crop/livestock was affected?
    • How did your community handle the situation?
    • Did you seek aid from another community? How were they able to help you?
    • How do these scenarios apply to supply and demand?
  6. At the end of the project, discuss how the communities evolved from the beginning to the end. Discuss the interdependence experienced throughout the project.