Rice and Ethnic/Religious Traditions

Overview

The lesson, Rice and Ethnic/Religious Traditions, looks at the ethnic and religious traditions involving rice. For example, in Thailand there are elaborate rituals to honor Mother Rice at the beginning of growing season, in India there are many traditional songs written to celebrate rice’s “magical” properties, and the list goes on.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

Gain a better understanding of the importance of rice cultivation around the world

Gain an appreciation for cultural nuances inherent in the way rice is prepared and valued

Learn to analyze charts and graphs to make global comparisons

Learn to analyze photos to learn the traditions of global cultures

Learn to analyze auditory material to learn the traditions of different cultures

Teacher Planning

Time: 3-6 hours

Materials Needed:

Computer with projector and internet access

A globe (optional)

Handout: A World of Rice Rituals

Vietnamese Water Puppet Show

Music from the Ricelands

Background Information to Activities:

Although we might think of rice as simply being a food, it has very significant religious and ethnic meanings in several world cultures. Especially in Asia, where rice is the main source of livelihood for many populations, rice has long-held ritualistic importance. In this lesson, we will explore a few of the many ways rice has ethnic or religious meaning in different cultures.

Activity I.

Pull out a globe or access Google Earth for all to see

Distribute copies of Handout: A World of Rice Rituals for students to read and go through one country at a time.  Make sure to have students locate each of the countries on a map, globe, or by using Google Earth.

Engage your students in discussion after each ritual presented.  Ask such questions as:

Why do you think rice has this particular meaning to this particular culture?

Does this ritual resemble any tradition you have ever seen?

What do you think if would be like to participate in this ritual?

After presenting all of the different rituals, have the students analyze the rituals as a whole, asking such questions as:

Are there any key similarities among the different rituals presented?

How do the variations in the rice rituals reflect the particular culture they belong to?

In what ways to these rituals strengthen group identity or unity?

Activity II.

Either prepare your computer to play the different clips for your students to hear OR have set up “stations” at different computers for students to work in groups to go through each of the sound clips.  Numerous rice songs can be heard at Music from the Ricelands There are six different countries represented on the website–try and choose songs from different places. LearnNC also has a great clip of a Vietnamese Water Puppet Show, which celebrates the rice harvest.

Once all of the students have heard all of the sound clips, bring the students back to a large-group setting to discuss their personal impressions and to make comparisons and contrasts between the clips.

Assessment

Assess student responses and adjust questioning and activities as needed. Students can be graded on completeness of work and participation during discussion. You may also gauge students’ level of thinking and understanding through the photographs and multimedia presented in the various activities. In addition, you can assess students based on their ability to completely and thoughtfully answer questions on the various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

Links

General Information on Rice:

Educational website on rice and its various uses across the globe.

Incredibly informative website on rice’s cultivation and cultural significance around the world.

Rice Growers’ Association of Australia: offers educational tools on rice.

A particularly interesting resource, especially in terms of cultural traditions.  This site focuses mostly on rice in Asia.

A site entirely dedicated to the rice traditions of Southeast Asia.

A great resource for exploring the many varieties of rice.

Interesting information on the origins of rice.

Gives an overview on the origins of rice, rice varieties, and rice cultivation.

Multimedia:

Database of rice songs

Mochi rice making in Japan

Sticky Rice Dumplings

Greek Wedding Rice tradition

The World’s Largest Paella

LearnNC: Vietnamese water puppet show

Wikipedia’s List of Rice Dishes

Graph of rice production

Rice Production Chart

CIA World Factbook

Google Earth

North Carolina Curriculum Alignment

Social Studies

Grade 6

Goal 1: The learner will use the five themes of geography and geographic tools to answer geographic questions and analyze geographic concepts.

Objective 1.01: Create maps, charts, graphs, databases, and models as tools to illustrate information about different people, places and regions in South America and Europe.

Objective 1.02: Generate, interpret, and manipulate information from tools such as maps, globes,charts, graphs, databases, and models to pose and answer questions about space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections.

Objective 1.03: Use tools such as maps, globes, graphs, charts, databases, models, and artifacts to compare data on different countries of South America and Europe and to identify patterns as well as similarities and differences among them.

Goal 12: The learner will assess the influence of major religions, ethical beliefs, and values on cultures in South America and Europe.

Objective 12.01 Examine the major belief systems in selected regions of South America and Europe, and analyze their impact on cultural values, practices, and institutions.

Objective 12.02 Describe the relationship between cultural values of selected societies of South America and Europe and their art, architecture, music and literature, and assess their significance in contemporary culture.

Objective 12.03 Identify examples of cultural borrowing, such as language, traditions, and technology, and evaluate their importance in the development of selected societies in South America and Europe.

Grade 7

Goal 1: The learner will use the five themes of geography and geographic tools to answer geographic questions and analyze geographic concepts.

Objective 1.01: Create maps, charts, graphs, databases, and models as tools to illustrate information about different people, places and regions in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Objective 1.02: Generate, interpret, and manipulate information from tools such as maps, globes, charts, graphs, databases, and models to pose and answer questions about space and place, environment and society, and spatial dynamics and connections.

Objective 1.03: Use tools such as maps, globes, graphs, charts, databases, models, and artifacts to compare data on different countries of Africa, Asia, and Australia and to identify patterns as well as similarities and differences.

Goal 12: The learner will assess the influence of major religions, ethical beliefs, and values on cultures in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Objective 12.02: Describe the relationship between and cultural values of selected societies of Africa, Asia, and Australia and their art, architecture, music, and literature, and assess their significance in contemporary culture.

Objective 12.03: Identify examples of cultural borrowing, such as language, traditions, and technology, and evaluate their importance in the development of selected societies in Africa, Asia, and Australia.

About the Author:

Amy Stelling majored in international studies at UNC Chapel Hill and graduated in 2009. Amy created this lesson plan as part of an assignment in “Intercultural Education in K-12 Classrooms,” a service-learning course taught by Tara Muller through the International and Area Studies Curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill.


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