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Mapping Japan

Jump into Japan's geography with a 3-D topographic map! Students will proudly display these models of Japan's mountainous islands and bodies of water.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Invite students, organized in small groups, to research the islands of Japan. Prior to beginning this task, have students pose several questions they would like answered during this investigation. Where they are located in the world? What are the country's natural resources? Significant landforms? Identify the largest four islands' shapes, names, and characteristics.
    2. Once teams have completed their research, have each group use Crayola® Model Magic to create 3-dimensional scale models of Japan's islands. Show landforms such as mountains, rivers, and lakes. Allow to air-dry overnight.
    3. Paint the islands and their geographic features with Crayola Washable Paint. Allow time for paint to dry.
    4. Paint ocean waters surrounding the Japanese islands with Crayola Watercolors on a large sheet of paper. Suggest that students dampen paper first to try a wet-on-wet technique. Dry.
    5. Student groups place their four islands on the water in their correct locations. Label the Sea of Japan, Pacific Ocean, and island names if you wish.
    6. Display student artwork at prominent places throughout the school hallways. Students should write a summary of their Japan research to accompany their models.
  • Standards

    LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of grade level text's complexity band independently and proficiently.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience in an organized manner, using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

    SCI: Investigate the life cycles of plants and animals to compare similarities and differences among organisms.

    SCI: Develop, use, and share representations of weather conditions to describe changes over time and identify patterns.

    SCI: Analyze weather data to determine that some kinds of severe weather are more likely to occur than others in the local region.

    SS: Examine the interaction of human beings and their physical environment, the use of land, building of cities, and ecosystem changes in selected locales and regions.

    SS: Compare ways in which people from different cultures think about and deal with their physical environment and social conditions.

    SS: Locate and distinguish among varying landforms and geographic features, such as mountains, plateaus, islands, and oceans.

    VA: Use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories.

    VA: Use visual structures of art to communicate ideas.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Japan the Land by Bobbie Kalman; TIME For Kids World Atlas

    Students identify all significant landforms located in Japan. The country itself is an island. Students research and identify other countries that are islands, or a groups of islands. What do these countries have in common with Japan? Create a topographical map of these countries.

    Students collaborate to investigate the people of Japan, their culture, symbols of their culture, the economy of the country, etc. How does the fact that this is an island country influence its economy?

    Working in small groups, students investigate the relationship between the United States and Japan. In 1941, Japan attacked American land. How did this affect this relationship? What happened to Japanese American citizens as a result of this attack?

    Students create a topographical map of their country or state. Include its highest elevations, rivers, and other features.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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