Grade: Elementary

#1919. Rice is Nice

Social Studies, level: Elementary
Posted Mon Aug 21 16:25:39 PDT 2000 by SuzAnne Payseur (
Oak Harbor Elementary, Oak Harbor, WA.
Materials Required: see lesson plan
Activity Time: several days
Concepts Taught: culture of China (food)

Rice Is Nice
Making Sushi

SuzAnne Payseur
1st Grade

Purpose: To teach first grade students about Japanese foods through fairy tales, fiction and nonfiction books, cooking meals and eating with chopsticks.

Time: Two days for two hours each day.


Denny, Roz. Rice.
Library Binding, 1998.

Dooley, Norah. Everybody Cooks Rice.
Minneapolis: Carolrhoda Books, 1991.

Japanese Cookbook for Kids
Legends of Japan
Web Site:

Wells, Rosemary. Yoko.
New York: Scholastic, 1998

Scher, Linda and Mary Oats Johnson. Culture Kit: Japan.
New York: Scholastic Professional Books, 2000.

Preparation: I will be introducing Japan at the beginning of the year through a yearlong theme on Islands. Rice Is Nice is one small lesson about Japanese foods, meal preparation and eating with traditional food utensils: chopsticks. It could easily be combined with a larger unit on Japan.

Day 1:

*Everybody Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley.
*Butcher paper and a marker
*Handout on "Cook and Eat Japanese-style" page 51, 52 in Culture Kit:
*Handout on making Japanese rice
*Handout on holding and using chopsticks
*Handout on eating foods with chopsticks
*1/2 cup vinegar
*2 tablespoons sugar
*1 teaspoon salt
*2 cups rice
*small glass bowl
*rice cooker
*25 Japanese bowls (if available) or any kind of bowl
*25 sets of wooden chopsticks
*25 plastic forks
*25 small rubber bands
*1 Japanese (optional) tray
*Rice by Roz Denny
*Folk tale: Hanasakajiisan

Day 2:

*Koko by
*Handouts about sushi making and a tea ceremony
*Sushi rice
*12 sheets of nori
*4 cucumbers (cut in 4" strips)
*4 avocados
*Wasabi (Japanese horseradish)
*3 or 4 additional adult volunteers (optional)
*25 Japanese (optional) small trays, tea cups, sets of chopsticks, forks
*1 spoon
*1 Japanese (optional) teapot
*1 ladle
*25 cushions (optional)
*powdered green tea called matcha
*25 napkins

Day 1:
1. Tell the children you will be teaching them about foods from Japan. Before reading the book Everybody Cooks Rice, tell the students they are to listen for the kind of food (maybe the name of the entre) the family from Japan was cooking. Read Everybody Cooks Rice.

2. Discuss what was the food that the Japanese family was eating, maybe the name and some of the ingredients. On butcher paper list the children's responses of all the recipes (entrees) they have eaten that have rice as an ingredient.

3. Making Japanese rice. Discuss information about rice and other Japanese foods from pages 51 and 52 in Culture Kit: Japan (see handout). Tell the children that they will be making Japanese rice. Gather the children around one big table so each child can participate in making the rice. (See pages on making Japanese rice.)

4. While the rice is cooking, have children go back to their seats and pass out a set of chopsticks to each child. Ask them what they know about the chopsticks. Discuss some etiquette of using chopsticks: 1. Never point them at people. 2. Do not lick or spear your food with the points.

5. Demonstrate how to use the chopsticks (see handouts). You may want to draw a diagram on the board on how to hold them. You may also want to twist a small rubber band around the very top ends of the chopsticks to make them easier to use. Have the children practice using the chopsticks.

6. When the rice is cooked explain how the Japanese people eat rice from a bowl (see handout). Demonstrate eating rice, noodles, and anything that may be on a small tray or plate.

7. Eating the rice. Encourage the students to use the chopsticks and to hold the bowl close to their mouth. Handout forks if it gets too difficult.

8. While the children are eating the rice, read Rice.

9. Later in the day read the Japanese folk tale, Hanasakajiisan (see handout).

Day 2:
1. Review what the kids learned the day before about rice and using chopsticks. Tell them you are going to read them a book about another specific Japanese food that they will be making and eating that day. Read the book Koko.

2. Making sushi. Discuss the theme of the book and try to elicit the specific food they would be making. Have the children gather around you while you demonstrate how to make sushi (see handout). It would be very appropriate to have three or four more adults present while rolling sushi.

3. Place each sushi roll on each child's individual small plate or tray. Place the tray at their individual place at their table. If the child wants to use chopsticks you may need to cut through their sushi roll.

4. Before the children start eating, you are going to introduce them to a Japanese tea ceremony (see handout).

5. Pass out chopsticks and/or forks to have their sushi meal.

1. Have a tea ceremony for parents in the classroom.

2. Visit a local Japanese restaurant and have a meal there.