K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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  • Around the world, a multicultural unit: The students will listen to stories from different cultures. They will participate in directed discussion, followed by a related art activity.
  • Little and big houses: Using the book Little House on the Prairie and international keypals, students will learn about similarities and differences among children at different times and in different places.
  • Postcards of the past: Students will participate in Heritage Day activities that will enhance students' awareness of their heritage. They will take digital pictures of activities to include on a web page and research and report on information gathered. Students will create a web page to present their information.

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Learning outcomes

The student will:

  • read fiction and nonfiction material
  • read and interpret poetry
  • paraphrase information
  • use prewriting activities
  • compare/contrast with thinking maps
  • locate countries on map
  • learn basic geographic concepts
  • practice using spatial visualization/visual memory
  • organize information with a K-W-L Chart (What I Know, What I Want to Know, What I Learned).

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

12 days


  • Fiction and nonfiction books to provide background
  • Books about other countries to use for research - see list of supplemental resources for recommendations.
  • Encyclopedia for each country to be researched
  • World Map to display
  • Copies of poems
  • Overhead projector or document camera
  • Overhead transparencies of poem
  • Overhead transparency of Double Bubble Thinking Map to be used in comparing and contrasting another country with the United States
  • Video: Kids Explore Mexico
  • Video: Victor
  • Video: Where In The World, Kids Explore

Technology resources

  • Access to the internet
  • Kid Pix
  • HyperStudio or PowerPoint


  • The class will complete a K-W-L Chart for each country that we study to show what they know, what they want to learn, and what they learned as a whole group.
  • Students from other countries will name a country where they have lived and discuss how that country is different from life in the United States.
  • Students will choose one of the following countries that they want to learn more about: Mexico, Russia/Ukraine, Italy, and China.
  • The teacher will read a book about children from other countries to build background knowledge.
  • The students will share prior knowledge about other countries.


  1. The teacher and third grade students will read fiction and nonfiction books about different cultures to the first grade students.
  2. The teacher will provide students with a selection of newspapers and magazines.
  3. The third grade students will read to the first grade students newspaper articles and magazine articles about countries other than the United States and display the articles on a multicultural bulletin board.
  4. The students will choose a country they want to learn more about from the third grade students.
  5. The students will read poetry about other cultures and illustrate the meaning of the poem.
  6. The teacher and students will brainstorm an acrostic poem using the letters in OUR WORLD as a whole class.
  7. The students will make a list of cultural restaurants in the local area and obtain a menu from each restaurant. The first and third grade students will work together to name the countries in which the foods originated.
  8. The students will create a national symbol to represent the country they studied.
  9. Third and first grade students will work together to present a different country on a different day. Part of the presentation will be tasting food from that country.
  10. The students will add additional information to the multicultural bulletin board.
  11. The teachers will pair up the first and third grade students that studied the same countries to compare and contrast information on a double bubble-thinking map.
  12. The students will make a poster about how families from different cultures celebrate holidays.
  13. The students will take an imaginary trip to one of the countries that they studied and write what they think they will see and do.
  14. While reading Grandfather Tang’s Story students will create animals that are described throughout the story by using tangrams. Refer to the Tangram lesson plan by Dawn Coleman for further ideas.


  • Observe third and first grade students sharing information about the U.S. and their country. Make sure they compare and contrast at least three characteristics.
  • Kid Pix project that third grade students will help first grade students prepare. Each team’s slide must contain graphic, text, and sound.
  • Stories written about their life in another country and how it would be different.
  • Examination of Double Bubble Thinking Map.
  • Examination of the K-W-L Chart.

Supplemental information

  • The following poems from A Poem A Day by Helen H. Moore and published by Scholastic:
    • “Kwanzaa Time is Hear” on page 60
    • “Happy Chinese New Year” on page 61
  • The following poems from Poetry Place Anthology, which is compiled and edited by Rosemary Alexander and Instructor Staff and published by Instructor Books:
    • “Hanukkah Quiz” on page 34
    • “Martin Luther King, Jr.” on page 54
    • “Millions of People” on page 135
  • Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley and published by Dorling Kindersley Publishing, Inc.
  • Our Multiculture World by Mollie Brittenum, published by Instructional Fair, Inc.
  • Grandfather Tang’s Story by Ann Tompert, published by Crown Publishers, Inc., NY
  • South of the Border, Wonders of Mexico, published by The Rourke Book Co., Inc.
  • Take a Trip to China by Sally Mason, published by Franklin Watts Limited.
  • Pablo Remembers by George Ancona, published by Lathrop, Lee & Shepard Books
  • Hopscotch Around the World by Mary D. Lankford, published by Morrow Junior Books
  • Imani’s Gift, at Kwanzaa by Denise Burden Putman, published by Simon & Schuster Books
  • How My Family Lives In America by Susan Kuklin, published by Simon & Schuster Books
  • Come Home With Me: A Multicultural Treasure Hunt by Aylette Jenness, published by The Children’s Museum Boston
  • All the Colors of the Earth by Sheila Hamanaka, published by Morrow Junior Books
  • My Big Book of the World by Angela Royston, published by Smithmark Publishers, Inc.
  • Alyonushka (Russian Folk Tales), translated by Irina Zheleznova and Bernard Isaacs Raduga Publishers in Moscow.


A multicultural unit will help students better understand the life of students from other cultures. Some of the activities will be done in individual classes, some with first and third grade working together, and then the entire group making presentations.

This unit of study could be done for an individual class instead of a cross grade level lesson.

Most libraries will have books on different countries available, if you don’t have access to the books that are listed. In addition, you could do these activities with countries other than the countries listed for our students.

  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.C.1 Understand the diversity of people in the local community. 1.C.1.1 Compare the languages, traditions, and holidays of various cultures. 1.C.1.2 Use literature to help people understand diverse cultures.
      • Grade 2

        • 2.C.1 Understand how various cultures influence communities. 2.C.2.1 Explain how artistic expressions of diverse cultures contribute to the community (stories, art, music, food, etc.). 2.C.2.2 Recognize the key historical figures and events that are associated...
      • Grade 3

        • 3.C.1 Understand how diverse cultures are visible in local and regional communities. 3.C.1.1 Compare languages, foods and traditions of various groups living in local and regional communities. 3.C.1.2 Exemplify how various groups show artistic expression within...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

English Language Arts (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 3: The learner will make connections through the use of oral language, written language, and media and technology.
    • Objective 3.01: Elaborate on how information and events connect to life experiences.

Mathematics (2004)

Grade 1

  • Goal 3: Geometry - The learner will identify, describe, draw, and build basic geometric figures.
    • Objective 3.04: Solve problems involving spatial visualization.

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 1

  • Goal 1: The learner will analyze how individuals, families, and groups are similar and different.
    • Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast similarities and differences among individuals and families.
  • Goal 4: The learner will explain different celebrated holidays and special days in communities.
    • Objective 4.02: Explore and cite reasons for observing special days that recognize celebrated individuals of diverse cultures.